Managing a Hybrid Institution: The Evolving Case of Robben Island World Heritage Site, Western Cape, South Africa

  • Pascall TaruvingaEmail author


Robben Island, an infamous place of banishment, isolation and political imprisonment, became a World Heritage Site in 1999 under the category of cultural landscapes. The site symbolises the “triumph of human spirit against great adversity” illustrating the experience of Political Prisoners incacerated on the Island for fighting against apartheid; a racially segregated governance system which marginalised the majority of South Africans. Apart from this, Robben Island was intially used as refreshment station by sailors, and later was a banishment place for indegeneous chiefs resisting colonialism, home to lepers isolated to the island and a defence line for 2nd World War. As a result, Robben Island World Heritage Site (RIWHS) is a place of spiritual reflection, hope, solidarity, transformation, healing and pilgrimage for a broader spectrum of society. These multilayered values requires a sustainable management approach. Conservation, tourism and social mandates of the site makes it a hybrid institution, requiring an integrated management system. This chapter critically reviews the 2nd Integrated Conservation Management Plan (ICMP) of Robben Island World Heritage Site as an evolving management system of the site since 1995. The chapter provides a historical context of the site, defines its multilayered values and traces the evolution of the management planning framework. The governance system and funding model, and implications of multiple compliance with national and international heritage protocols is explored. The evolving management system balances conservation, tourism and social responsibility, which are complex but complementary mandates. The emerging challenges, lessons and futuristic thinking are important in defining the management of cultural landscapes in Africa. The chapter concludes that heritage management should have the fluidity of being responsive to the dynamic socio-economic environment in which it operates without losing its traditional mandate of conservation.


Robben Island Integrated management system Conservation Hybrid institution Stakeholders 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Robben Island MuseumCape TownSouth Africa

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