IV-14. “Reconsideration of the global standards of Angkor’s world heritage status: Discovering local knowledge by using informatics analysis” (R1 FY2019)

  • Project Leader : Marui Masako (Sophia University, Faculty of Global Studies)
  • Collaborators : Kobayashi Satoru (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)
  • : Kosaka Yasuyuki (Kyoto University, Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies )
  • : Im Sokrithy (APSARA National Authority, Angkor Training Center)

Outline of Research

At the end of the 20th century, “landscape” was added as one of the universal values of cultural heritage. The “landscape” in this context composes not only tangible properties, but also surrounding villages. This new concept became another global standard on a par with the conventional standard of cultural heritage conservation. The cause of introducing “landscape” (with villages) was the inscription of Angkor on the world heritage list in 1992. During the 25 years since these two standards appeared, the various difficulties that local communities face need to be considered. The research project focuses on Angkor and the local knowledge that has been passed down over several generations. On the assumption that knowledge defines the direction that safeguarding heritage will take in the next generation, this project calls for a reconsideration of the historical development of the relationships of communities to their land and the environment by using informatics analysis.



Since the beginning of the 21st century, the Cambodian government has pushed large-scale land development projects in the Angkor area. Most projects are carried out under the slogan of “rehabilitation of the landscape to one of the Angkor period.” However, no consensus with the local community has been built. Most villagers in this area live by producing wet-rice and by utilizing plant resources, and are therefore impacted by the projects.


Based on the above, our research group expresses doubt regarding the social justice and fairness of the process of landscape rehabilitation. The purposes of this joint international and interdisciplinary research are:
1. The creation of a mosaic of aerial photographs of the Angkor area for a revival of spatial information
2. The collection of memories and experieces of villagers and archives that describe the relations between local communities and surrounding environments.


The significance of the research is to unearth and gather spatial and local knowledge key to solving various problems that local communities are facing due to landscape and heritage conservation.

Expected Results:

Through the studies, a new effective method will be developed to build sustainable mutually-beneficial relations between cultural heritage efforts and community life. Furthuremore, after reconsidering the social justice and fairness aspects of landscape rehabilitation, the research project will be able to connect administrative and community actors to build a platform for their future visions.


Ritual holding by local for the deceased in Angkor monument, September 2019.

The 25th anniversary committee, December 2018, pictured by Mr. Satoru Miwa