From Norway to the Azores (PT)
Marit Johansson, 33 years old, Norwegian, is studying the impact of the World Heritage status, conferred by UNESCO to Angra do Heroísmo in 1983, through the "scientific look" required by a PhD thesis. In order to do so, the young researcher counts on a grant from the universities of Linköping, Sweden, and Telemark, Norway.
The grant from the universities of Linköping, Sweden, and Telemark, Norway, involves teaching and Angra do Heroísmo is part of the Norwegian researcher's study project.
Her thesis is entitled “Angra do Heroísmo, world heritage city and hometown – a study of the local effects of a world heritage status”.
For the time being, Marit Johansson has carried out around 30 interviews, but the fieldwork is not yet completed.
The main goal of her research, which should be complete in 2014, is to understand how the classification of World Heritage is affecting the city.
For Marit Johansson, who also has a Master’s in archaeology by the academy of Oslo, her interest in this matter resulted from her stay on Terceira Island, three years ago, under the professional exchange programme Eurodyssey.
Marit recalls that, at the time, she undertook many projects for the Regional Directorate for Culture in the field of support or documentation and also some archaeological surveys.
World Heritage here and there
Marit Johansson told our newspaper that she decided to come to Terceira Island after contacting some faculty colleagues.
At the time, she admits, she did not know much about this small Azorean island, even though her home-country is very familiar with UNESCO World Heritage sites, since in Norway there are many: the city of Røros, the city centre of Bergen, the Norwegian fiords or the emblematic wooden church Urnes Starkirche.
Without bringing forward any conclusion on her survey, the researcher is however sure that there are "common aspects" about life in World Heritage cities.
"Life in urban areas classified as World Heritage always deserves special attention." But the answers to the questions that this statement might raise will only be known after assessing the data being now collected. Also, the researcher wishes the people from Angra to know the outcome of her quality survey on the city: "Í hope people from Angra show interest in my work".
Angra taught in Norway
However, Marit still has a lot of work to do before reaching the final conclusions of her thesis. That is why next summer she will be back on Terceira Island to continue researching.
In the meantime, she will return to Norway to teach, as part of her PhD grant. Under the subject of Cultural Studies, Marit also teaches the case of Angra do Heroísmo, at the University of Telemark.
Besides interviews both to the people who live in Angra and to official entities, this academic work also involves bibliographic research: going to the Library and Archive of Angra, researching newspapers, and so on.
Marit Johansson states that, so far, everyone has been “very open and nice” regarding her interviews. Usually, she records them through digital sound.
“I want to deeply analyse people’s opinions, since everyone has a unique point of view”, admits Marit.
That is why she expects various conclusions to result from the survey, as the profiles of the respondents are as diversified as possible, from historians, to highly qualified citizens and less qualified ones: “It is important to talk to everyone in order to really understand how the city affects those who live there”.