“Cutting-edge. Builds on innovative fieldwork across three continents to offer a sophisticated take on the political and cultural complexities of landscapes exploited by resource-extraction industries.”—Laurajane Smith, author of Uses of Heritage 

“An engaging overview of how large multinational companies use the concept of heritage to reposition their work within discourses about environmental sustainability and resilience.”—Paul Lane, coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology 

This book explores the sociopolitical contexts of heritage landscapes, paying special attention to sites with deep indigenous histories—Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the Burrup Peninsula along the Pilbara Coast in Australia, the Altai Mountains of northwestern Mongolia, and Prince William Sound in Alaska. For many communities, landscapes such as these have long been associated with cultural identity and memories of important and difficult events, as well as political struggles related to nation-state boundaries, sovereignty, and knowledge claims.

Drawing on the emerging field of critical heritage theory and the concept of “resource frontiers,” Melissa Baird shows how these landscapes are sites of power and control and are increasingly used in development and extractive projects. As a result, heritage landscapes face social and ecological crises such as environmental degradation, ecological disasters, and structural violence. She describes how heritage experts, industries, government representatives, and descendant groups negotiate the contours and boundaries of these contested sites, and recommends ways such conversations can better incorporate a critical engagement with indigenous knowledge and agency.

A volume in the series Cultural Heritage Studies, edited by Paul A. Shackel

Available at University Press of Florida or on Amazon

Refereed Journal Articles

2014          “Heritage, Human Rights, and Social Justice.”  Heritage & Society 7 (2):139-155.

2012          “The Breath of the Mountain is my Heart”: Indigenous Cultural Landscapes and  the Politics of Heritage.  International Journal of Heritage Studies. 19 (4): 327- 340.

2008          Baird, Melissa F. and Ruthann Knudson. “In the Spirit of Old Friends: Reflections on Repatriation at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.” Heritage  of the Great Plains XLI (2).

2006          “Frederica de Laguna and the Study of Pre-Contact Pictographs from Coastal  Sites in Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound, Alaska. Arctic Anthropology 43 (2): 136-147.

2004          “Whales, Boats and Anthropomorphs: Iconographic and Contextual Analyses of   Two Pictograph Sites in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska. Journal of Northwest  Anthropology 38(2):179-194.


2015   Resource Frontiers in Western Australia.” Hot Spots. Cultural  Anthropology Online (co-editor Jane Lydon).

 Book Chapters

2017   “Extractive Industries, Corporate Discourse and Indigenous Heritage.” In  Archaeologies of “Us” and “Them”: Debating History, Heritage and Indigeneity, International Library of Essays on Rights. Charlotta Hillerdal, Anna Karlström, and  Carl-Gösta Ojala (eds.). Routledge

2015          Baird, Melissa F. “Indigenous Cultural Landscapes and the Politics of  Heritage.” In Cultural Heritage Rights, International Library of Essays on Rights.    Anthony J. Connolly (ed.). London: Ashgate.

2015          “Heritage Ecologies and the Rhetoric of Nature.” In Heritage Keywords,   Kathryn Lafrenze Samuels and Trinidad Rico (eds.). Boulder: University Press  of Colorado Press.

2015          Coombe, Rosemary and Melissa F. Baird. The Limits of Heritage: Rights- Based Struggles on Resource Frontiers.” In A Companion to Heritage Studies,   William Logan, Ulrich Kockel and Máiréad Nic Craith (eds.). Wiley Blackwell.

 Refereed Articles (Other)

2015  “Aboriginal Country and the New Heritage Landscapes of the Pilbara.” Hot  Spots. Cultural Anthropology Online.

2015   “The Pilbara Crisis: Resource Frontiers in Western Australia.” Hot Spots. Cultural  Anthropology Online. (co-author, Jane Lydon)

 Encyclopedia Entries

2014   UNESCOs World Heritage List Nominations and Processes. Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology (EGA), Springer Publishers.

Associate Professor of Anthropology, Michigan Technological University