Cultural Heritage and Representation in Jamaica: Broaching the Digital Age
Henry, Abigail Ruth-Ann
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This thesis discusses Jamaica’s cultural heritage management in the 21st century and questions how the country’s cultural heritage is represented in today’s digital age. Tracing the development of Jamaica’s cultural policies since the late-colonial period (beginning in the late 1930s), I consider the ways in which the state has managed cultural heritage historically and connect the evolution of theoretical understandings of heritage to explore evolving ideologies of policy and management. I then examine three digital cultural heritage projects in Jamaica to question their representation of heritage material to the local population and the wider world. I argue that these presentations of Jamaica’s cultural heritage illustrate a 21st century neoliberal interplay of cultural heritage, nationalism, and economic development. The projects put forward a restricted and exclusive form of heritage knowledge which re-inscribes historical inequalities. I conclude that cultural heritage organizations and policymakers must incorporate participatory methods to leverage digital technologies to ameliorate ongoing issues of hegemonic representation.