Conceptualizing coastal and maritime cultural heritage through communities of meaning and participation

Kristen Ounanian*, Jan van Tatenhove, Carsten Jahn Hansen, Alyne E. Delaney, Hanne Bohnstedt, Elaine Azzopardi, Wesley Flannery, Hilde Toonen, Jasper O. Kenter, Laura Ferguson, Marloes Kraan, Jordi Vegas Macias, Machiel Lamers, Cristina Pita, Ana Margarida Ferreira da Silva, Helena Albuquerque, Fátima L. Alves, Dimitra Mylona, Katia Frangoudes

*Corresponding author for this work

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Coastal zones are historically rich with unique land/seascapes, tangible artifacts, and intangible cultural heritage. Coastal and maritime cultural heritage (CMCH) contends with various constraining conditions of the sea and shore—both geophysical and socially constructed—which we delineate to identify risks and threats to its sustainable management. In response to calls for the greater incorporation of CMCH in the name of regional development and blue growth, we propose a conceptual framework as a means to identify risks and sustainably manage CMCH. We develop the concepts of communities of meaning and communities of participation to address how CMCH is created and contested and identify key considerations for its management. Building on theories of space, place, and identity, the paper constructs communities of meaning in order to elaborate the various opportunities but also tensions in preserving CH and cultivating reliant enterprises as a part of wider regional development strategies. Working from this understanding of place and identity in degrees of inclusivity/exclusivity, the paper draws upon literature on deliberative and participatory governance, framed as communities of participation. These two concepts provide a vocabulary for managers to address calls for the promotion of CMCH and determine appropriate management strategies and governance based on policy objectives and the will of potentially multiple communities of meaning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105806
JournalOcean and Coastal Management
Early online date03 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was completed in connection to the EU Horizon2020 Research & Innovation project, Preserving and Sustainably Governance Cultural Heritage and Landscapes in European Coastal and Maritime Regions (PERICLES) , grant no. 770504 .

Funding Information:
AMFS was supported by Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) with a PhD Grant ( SFRH/BD/145485/2019 ), and CP was funded by FCT 2020.02510.CEECIND . Thanks are due to FCT / MCTES for the financial support to CESAM ( UIDB/50017/2020+UIDP/50017/2020 ) and GOVCOPP ( UIDB/04058/2020 ) +( UIDP/04058/2020 ), through national funds .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Coastal communities
  • Cultural heritage
  • Deliberative governance
  • Resilience
  • Risk
  • Sense of place

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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