Local Perceptions of Heritage, Development and Identities in Post-War Croatia

The Ph.D. project focuses on how perceptions of heritage, identity and development are constructed, negotiated and re-constructed in the post-war Croatian society. The project analyzes the impacts of social change and the experiences and effects of tourism on the local community in the UNESCO heritage listed city, Dubrovnik. The project is based on ten months ethnographic fieldwork in Dubrovnik.

Foto: Celine M. Loades.

About the project

Motzfeldt Loades’  Ph.D. project focuses on how perceptions of heritage, identity, ethnicity and development are constructed, negotiated and re-constructed in the post-war Croatian society, in particular in Dubrovnik where she will carry out 1 year anthropological fieldwork. The project aims to examine the close-knit relationship between heritage, power, politics, culture, history and identities, and deconstruct the ways in which local perceptions of ‘heritage’, ‘identities’, ‘development’ and ‘social change’ are constructed, embedded and naturalized in the particular cultural-historical milieu of post-war Croatia.

Duration: 2013


The thesis will assess the relationship between individual and collective representations of heritage and cultural identities, and to what degree individual representations reflect larger narratives mediated by the government, in education, by the media, in popular culture, and by national and international organizations, such as UNESCO.

The Ph.D. project will furthermore explore heritage management in a developmental perspective, seeking to analyze the local negotiations which take place in Dubrovnik and the motivations behind the different different models of conservation, restoration and development proposed. The project will furhter explore local perceptions of social change (from communism to market-liberalism) and tourism’s impact on the local community and identities.

The Ph.D. will address questions such as:

  • How are cultural heritage perceptions incorporated and embodied in the formation of cultural identities in post-war Croatia, and to what extent does ‘heritage’ become reified in the attempt to shape a bounded national identity?
  • How are local identities and heritage perceptions shaped, negotiated, re-shaped and appropriated in a cultural context marked by large-scale tourism (and consequently by the increased commoditization of cultural artifacts, localities and traditions which follows tourism)?
  • In which ways are local understandings of ‘us’ and ‘the Other’, and the population’s identification/alterity with concepts such as ‘Europe’, ‘the Mediterranean’ and ‘the Balkans’ incorporated into contemporary heritage perceptions? To what extent might these perceptions operate as potential impediments and/or as assistance for inter-cultural/inter-ethnic communication in the post-war period and for Croatia’s accession to the EU? 
  • How have UNESCO’s heritage perceptions, ideas, as well as involvement in Dubrovnik’s post-war restoration of the urban environment synthesized with local heritage perceptions and practices?


  • Center for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo
  • Ella og Robert Wenzins legat
  • Ingmund Kirkeruds legat
  • Legatet Patrik Giddens samlingen
  • Institutt for sammanliknende kulturforskning 


  • University of Dubrovnik, Croatia (Institute for Comminucations, Department of Art and Restoration)
Published Aug. 30, 2011 10:25 AM - Last modified Jan. 4, 2013 9:41 AM