Understanding the complexities of residents’ support for cultural heritage preservation through an equity theory lens

The case of World Heritage Sites of Carthage, Tunisia

Authored by: Huda Abdullah Megeirhi , Manuel Alector Ribeiro , Kyle Maurice Woosnam

Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Africa

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138496088
eBook ISBN: 9781351022545
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter considers the ways in which the variation in equity perceptions among various social classes can either trigger or halt the process of cultural heritage preservation. Equity matters have the potential in preserving cultural heritage and consequently enhance tourism development’s goals and sustainability principles. Understanding the dynamics of residents’ behavioral support of cultural heritage preservation in Carthage World Heritage Sites (WHS) is faced with a serious dilemma. In this regard, Carthage residents raise their opinions, perceptions and judgments based on a spectrum of (in) equitable controversial considerations. In a heritage management context, equity perspectives have not received adequate consideration. Thus, this study seeks to reveal subtleties and give voice to local residents in order to understand the complexity of these dynamics through the lens of equity theory in exploring the perceptions of Carthage residents concerning their intentions to support cultural heritage preservation. The present qualitative research study is part of a larger project that investigates residents’ behavioral support for cultural heritage preservation of the WHS in Carthage. In-person, in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 residents, 5 officials and NGO representatives from the 9 communities comprising Carthage. This study contributes significantly to the existing literature of the cultural heritage preservation field by (1) utilizing qualitative research techniques in order to examine residents’ perceptions more closely and (2) introduce and consider equity theory as a valid framework for exploring residents’ perceptions of cultural heritage preservation in the context of tourism. Theoretical and practical implications of the study are discussed along with future research opportunities to develop the field of cultural heritage management. Various actors such as heritage managers, governance consultants, local residents, NGO officials, and decision makers need to work collectively in order to preserve the ancient city as a universal WHS destination, and more importantly, as a prosperous community.

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