The complexity of heritage and societal development – The example of Gjirokastra, Albania
Albania is formerly the most closed country in Europe and has suffered from severe economic and political problems during the last two decades. In the southern part lies Gjirokastra, birthplace of former dictator Enver Hoxha, and home to diverse communities of Albanians and Greeks. Gjirokastra Old Town, proclaimed “Museum City” by the regime in 1961 and later turned into a UNESCO World Heritage City, climbs the steep western side of the Drinos valley. During the communist era the city was heavily industrialized with a metal work factory as well as factories for products such as shoes, refrigerators, and umbrellas. On the eastern side is the archaeological site of the ancient city of Antigonea, thus defining a landscape with long historical processes and a multitude of narratives and interpretations.
In recent years this landscape has witnessed increased efforts to secure what are perceived heritage values, focusing on the older structures i.e. the world heritage part of the city and the archaeological site. However, the structures of post-war era of Albania contribute significantly to the full context of the landscape, but since the mid-1990s and the collapse of Albanian post-communist economy the former industrial sites are increasingly deteriorating. Parallel with severe economic problems with massive volumes of unemployed, a criminally based economy on drug trafficking is increasing.
This paper will discuss the societally based problems in securing different heritage assets for a positive societal development.
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