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Dimitra Mazaraki


Dimitra Mazaraki is a doctoral student in Archaeology at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Her research explores the dynamics between local communities and archaeological sites, focusing on the representations of archaeology, public participation, and valorisation of archaeological heritage. She studied Archaeology in Athens (BA with honours, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, scholarship from the D. Arapoglou Foundation) and Cultural Heritage and Museums in Paris (MA with honours, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, scholarship from the I. Latsis Foundation). She has worked as a contract archaeologist at the Ephorate of Antiquities of Florina and Eastern Attica and as a museologist at the Directorate of Modern Cultural and Intangible Cultural Heritage in Athens. She currently works as a contract archaeologist in the Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in Athens. She also has participated in and co-organised mediation projects in archaeological heritage (Greece and France).

Discourses of archaeological heritage from non-archaeologists: The case of a local community in Malia, Crete

Theoretical considerations of the late 20th century in archaeology, such as postprocessualism critique, the emergence of archaeological ethics, and the awareness of the political role of the discipline, have highlighted the critical role of the public. At the same time, international charters and European conventions have also emphasised the importance of a value-based and anthropocentric approach and practice in archaeological heritage management, prompting engagement, participation, and collaboration in the heritage field. The public has since been acknowledged as having a collaborative and co-creative role. The archaeological practice has also been critically re-examined and evaluated to see how locals and the broader public understand the past and how archaeology might contribute to contemporary societal issues.

However, similar practices still need to be implemented in the southeastern European framework. Specifically, in Greece, archaeology is of great importance to identity and national building. However, it has yet to seek to create further meanings and demonstrate a social value to present-day people; the reasons why we preserve the archaeological heritage and the people for whom we preserve it have yet to be answered for too long. Issues of accessibility, inclusion, social cohesion, and political awareness have yet to problematise the discipline in a holistic, fruitful way.

In particular, presenting archaeological sites to the public in Greece has been focused on producing a specific image of the past, leaving little space for additional negotiation or consideration of alternative perspectives and issues. Interpretation of the material past has focused primarily on a site’s archaeological values. However, according to the various stakeholders, the values in an archaeological site could coexist or oppose those presented and narrated by the official archaeology and the state’s policy.

Through a case study of the city of Malia on the northern shore of Crete, this paper will explore the challenges of valorisation and interpretation of an archaeological site in Greece, questioning aspects of social relevance, accessibility and pertinence to the local community. The analysis will demonstrate the theoretical underpinnings of valorisation and interpretation of heritage, juxtaposing qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with locals about the material past and present-day archaeology. Values attributed to the archaeological heritage and barriers identified by the locals will be discussed, comparatively with the hierarchisation of cultural significance from official heritage discourse and mass tourism narratives.