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"Reconciling Risk Management and Exploitation of Cultural Heritage: The Angkor Site"
Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris
LabEx DynamiTe - Laboratoire d Excellence « Dynamiques Territoriales et Spatiales »
Full Description:

Research Proposal:

A major tourism site in Southeast Asia,
notably since its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1992,
Angkor is currently faced with a number of societal and environmental

These risks are first anthropic in
nature, notably due to its designation as a world heritage site
(Thibault, 1998; Esposito, 2012) that caused twofold demographic
pressure. This is manifest by the spread of the city of Siem Reap (pop.
nearly 200,000) towards the classified site following the boom in
tourist hotels (Siem Reap/Angkor Urban Observatory, 2010); and by
population growth among people living within the classified site
(Hauser-Schäublin, 2011).

Environmental risks, arising partially
from demographic pressure, come from a certain number of actions that
generate considerable uncertainty as to the structural stability of the
edifices (Hydratec, 2012). On the scale of the classified site, canals
and reservoirs are elements of a hydraulic system that maintain constant
soil humidity, the only guarantee of survival for temples built on
loose ground (Groslier, 1974, 1979; Pillot, 2008; Bourdonneau, 2010).
Yet, the lack of maintenance tends to dry the soil, which seems to be
sinking under the weight of the temples, weakening the archeological
structure. The hydraulic system is in the process of being restored
under the auspices of APSARA (a Cambodian body created at the request of
UNESCO to manage the classified site); in turn, this is at risk of
running up against a phenomenon throughout the catchment basin—erosion.
Indeed, because of biomass needs (heating and lumber), deforestation
seems to be speeding up on the Kulen mountain range that stands over the
site (Hydratec, 2012). This is causing permanent soil erosion and
threatening landslides, which would be catastrophic for the heritage
site (André et al., 2008a & b) and all of the associated economy if a major event were to happen.
How then can heritage classification,
touristic draw and the preservation of the stability of the ground and
archaeological sites be reconciled on the regional and local scales? How
can a population that earns its living from tourism be able to protect
its jobs, investments and environment? These are the general questions
that the doctoral student should attempt to answer.
In order to allow the administrators to better manage the
paradox between protecting the site and exploiting this heritage, this
thesis aims to: (1) draw up a report on the current natural and
anthropic risks weighing on Angkor; and (2) propose actions to mitigate
these risks, taking a clearly systemic and (if possible)
multi-disciplinary approach.

The doctoral student will be asked to
set up a methodology based on: in-depth field work in physical geography
and satellite image processing to model the erosion on the Kulen
mountains; a detailed map of the hydrographic network upstream from the
site and the hydraulic network within the site, notably by creating a
GIS; and surveys of managers and the populations that utilize the site
and the Kulen mountains on a daily basis.
Modeling of water flows could then be
compared to climate variations in order to understand how the
hydrosystem and ground behave based on the monsoon and its inter-annual
variability. Later, the doctoral student will integrate demographic
pressure variables into the models in order to propose possible ways to
mitigate this risk.

Posted on: 29 March 2016Deadline to apply: 04 May 2016Start Date: 01 September 2016 Duration: 36 months
The Fund category is Mixed Funding and the salary is 15-20k€ annual gross
Doctoral School is Economy, spaces, societies, civilisations : critical analysis, political and social practice in the Ile-de-France Region.

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