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14.00  Transitioning into World Heritage: Liminality and Ambiguity in Pasargadae (Southern Iran)

Pasargadae is the symbolic capital of the Persian Empire (est. 580 BCE) and one of the most significant World Heritage sites in Iran (listed 2004). Since its inception, the site has had multiple layers of occupation and different functions including Royal garden-capital, religious shrine and national monumental site. In all its functions, the site has remained heterotopic, at the margins of the everyday. And yet throughout its history, various modes of settlement have appeared around the site including nomadic and semi-nomadic camps and villages that have now developed into townships. After acquiring World Heritage status, a buffer zone was imposed around the site creating problems similar to those already witnessed in buffer zones elsewhere including the imposition of extraordinary rules for developments and spatial transformations. These transformations caused or exacerbated socio-economic change in these settlements. The incapacity to develop or expand private residences has increased the emigration out of the settlement, a process already prompted by the country’s modernization and concentration of opportunities in urban centres. Presently, the buffer zone also functions as the tangible threshold to the heritage site which is accessed through an entry road off the main highway approximately four kilometres long. 

This paper will focus on this buffer zone. In examining the transformations of the buffer zone and indeed access to the site, the paper will analyze the liminal effect caused by the practices of heritage and their demands in this living zone. It searches for various manifestations of this condition within the settlement fabric and the broader repercussions flowing from it. It will also examine how, once inscribed in the tangible fabric, liminality implicates others in the narrative of heritage and identity and influences the types of performances that take place within space. As material for analysis, the paper will draw on systematic visual documentation of the place and firsthand experiences of visitation.

Deakin University, Curtin University
Research Fellow, Adjunct Research Fellow