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To renew heritage conservation policies in conjunction with local populations:
To identify them, understand their concept of ownership and ensure they are recognized and valued by public authorities.

Specific actions

– Collect information on local heritage
– Integrate the data into a geographic information system (GIS)
– Organize data into a hard copy and online encyclopedia
– Organize appropriate mediations and conservation uses for the local areas

Project created
  • Indonesia
  • Timor-Leste

East Timor: island of Atauro Indonesia: Tanjung Bunga peninsula, Flores

Type of project : Field

Participation period : Participating population limited to local populations



grenier dans l'île d'Atauro

Project description

Heritage practices in non-Western countries generally draw from Western methods, and local adhesion to these principles rarely goes beyond tourism-based economic prospects. Whether heritage policies are driven by international or national authorities, they rarely take into account the “emic” (endogenous or local) perspective on objects, places and knowledge that are meaningful to populations who attribute a symbolic or identity value to them. 

The POPEI-coll project seeks to analyze the local relevance of the idea of heritage and other standards of culture and identity in order to collaboratively explore original solutions for conservation and transmission, in cooperation with regional policymakers. The research is taking place in two areas of Southeast Asia with contrasting political situations but comparable cultural backgrounds: the Tanjung Bunga peninsula in Flores, Indonesia, and the small island of Atauro in Timor-Leste. Tourism development projects are in the works for the entire region, which means that major transformations are likely to occur in the coming decades in these insular areas and their communities.

The project aims to analyze the requirements and opportunities of a collaborative approach to attribute value to practices and local knowledge. This approach disrupts traditional research relationships, where researchers are potentially subject to issues they cannot control, but where they may also impose their own views on local groups. It also questions the levels of collaboration (which group to consider, which scale, etc.). Finally, consideration is given to the purposes, methods, limits and value of collaborative research where scientific and targeted research come together, in a region where tourism prospects are driving urgent demands for research. 

Most heritage policies take a top-down approach and are poorly understood by local populations. A participatory – or even collaborative – approach needs to be developed so that local populations take ownership of the project, which seeks to promote their own objects and views. Local participation is the way to guarantee sustainable heritage policies, and it will also help renew both heritage objects and the policies meant to promote them. 

This project also takes a reflexive approach, with an analysis of the

scales and means of participation, as well as the methods, biases and limits of a collaborative approach.

This project is part of Particip-ARC network.


Dominique GUILLAUD

Dominique GUILLAUD

Directrice de recherches IRD - Coordinatrice du projet POPEI-coll, responsable équipe PALOC


PALOC Patrimoines locaux, environnement et gouvernance



Co-coordinatrice, Responsable de l’équipe CASE