Communities of Practice, Identity and Tourism: Evidence on Cultural Heritage Preservation in World Heritage Sites


  • Francesc Fusté-Forné University of Girona
  • Thuy Nguyen Lincoln University



Community Development, Local Governance, Spain, Tourism Development, Vietnam


A “community of practice” (CoP) is a mechanism of holding, transferring and creating knowledge, where practices and identities are developed in the frame of the socio-cultural dynamics of a community. Thus, CoP brings together concepts of history, identity, values, practice, and community. Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) communities are networks of people whose sense of identity and interconnectedness emerge from a shared historical and geographical relationship. This background is rooted in the practice and transmission of the ICH. The goal of this paper is to explore the interfaces amongst these two concepts: CoP and ICH, by identifying the correlations between identity and place attachment in ICH sites and the practices of their communities, such as the case of tourism. With two selected intangible cultural heritage communities in Spain and Vietnam, the paper particularly highlights the similarities of community processes albeit distinctive characteristics of different places and people.


Aas, C., Ladkin, A. & Fletcher, J. (2005). Stakeholder collaboration and heritage management. Annals of Tourism Research, 32 (1), pp. 28-48. DOI:

Bakar, A.A., Osman, M.M., Bachok, S. & Ibrahim, M. (2014).

Analysis on Community Involvement Level in Intangible Cultural Heritage: Malacca Cultural Community. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 153, pp. 286-297. DOI:

Barret, G., Caniggia, M., Muñoz, A. & Read, L. (2005). “Nadie es profeta en su tierra”. Community, Civil Society and intervening institutions in rural Chile. Human Organization, 64, pp. 89-102. DOI:

Bessière, J. (1998). Local development and heritage: Traditional food and cuisine as tourist attractions in rural areas. Sociologia Ruralis, 38(1), pp. 21-34. DOI:

Bott, S., Cantrill, J.G. & Myers, O.E. (2003). Place and promise of conservatory psychology. Human Ecology Review, 10(2), pp. 100–112.

Breakwell, G. (1986). Coping with threatened identities. London: Methuen.

Brown, J.S. & Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning, and innovation. Organization Science, 2(1), pp. 40-57.

Buysse, V., Sparkman, K.L. & Wesley, P.W. (2003). Communities of practice: Connecting what we know with what we do. Exceptional Children, 69(3), pp. 263-277.

Cang, V.G. (2007). Defining intangible heritage and its stakeholders: The case of Japan. International Journal of Cultural Heritage, 2, pp. 45-56.

Carbone, F. (2016). An insight into cultural heritage management of tourism destinations. European Journal of Tourism Research, 14, pp. 75-91.

Cobb, P. & Bowers, J. (1999). Cognitive and situated learning perspectives in theory and practice. Educational Researcher, 28(2), pp. 4-15.

Deacon, H., Dondolo, L., Mrubata, M. & Prosalendis, S. (2004). The subtle power of intangible heritage: Legal and financial instruments for safeguarding intangible heritage. Cape Town: HSRC Publishers.

Debenedetti, A., Oppewal, H. & Arsel, Z. (2014). Place Attachment in Commercial Settings: A Gift Economy Perspective. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(5), pp. 904-923.

Di Giovine, M.A. (2009). Revitalization and counter‐revitalization: tourism, heritage, and the Lantern Festival as catalysts for regeneration in Hoi An, Vietnam. Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, 1(3), pp. 208-230. DOI:

Eckert, P. (2006). Communities of practice. Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2, pp. 683-685. DOI:

El Periódic d’Andorra (2016). Les falls ja són patrimoni immaterial de la humanitat. El Periódico, January 26, 2016.

Fusté-Forné, F. (2015a). El turisme gastronòmic: autenticitat i desenvolupament local en zones rurals. Documents d’Anàlisi Geogràfica, 61(2), pp. 289-304. DOI:

Fusté-Forné, F. (2015b). Cheese Tourism in a World Heritage Site: Vall de Boí (Catalan Pyrenees). European Journal of Tourism Research, 11, pp. 87-101.

Fusté-Forné, F. (2015c). Internacionalització de les destinacions rurals i de muntanya: idees per a la Vall de Boí del turisme gastronòmic de la regió de Canterbury (Nova Zelanda). Revista Iberoamericana de Turismo-RITUR, 5(2), pp. 3-26. DOI:

Fusté-Forné, F. (2016). Tasting cheesescapes in Canterbury (New Zealand). New Zealand Geographer, 72(1), pp. 41-50. DOI:

Galla, A. (2012). World Heritage in poverty alleviation: Hoi An Ancient Town, Viet Nam. In A. Galla (ed.), World Heritage: Benefits Beyond Borders. London: Cambridge University Press.

Giuliani, M.V. (2003). Theory of attachment and place attachment. In M. Bonnes, T. Lee and M. Bonaiuto (eds.), Psychological theories for environmental issues (pp. 137-170). Aldershot: Ashgate.

Gobierno de Aragón (2015). Patrimonio cultural aragonés “fiestas del fuego del solsticio de verano en el pirineo oscense”. Zaragoza: Gobierno de Aragón, Departamento de Educación, Universidad, Cultura y Deporte.

Gu, H. and Ryan, C. (2008). Place attachment, identity and community impacts of tourism – the case of a Beijing Hutong. Tourism Management, 29, pp. 637-647. DOI:

Hall, C.M. (2016). Heirloom products in heritage places: Farmers markets, local food, and food diversity. In D. Timothy (ed.), Heritage Cuisines: Traditions, identities and tourism (pp. 88-103). Abingdon: Routledge.

Hall, C.M. and Rath, J. (2007). Tourism, migration and place advantage in the global cultural economy. Tourism, ethnic diversity and the city, pp. 1-24. DOI:

Handley, K., Sturdy, A., Fincham, R. & Clark, T. (2006). Within and beyond communities of practice: making sense of learning through participation, identity and practice. Journal of Management Studies, 43(3), pp. 641-653. DOI:

Hemmasi, M. & Csanda, C.M. (2009). The effectiveness of communities of practice: An empirical study. Journal of Managerial Issues, pp. 262-279.

Hughes, G. (1995). Authenticity in tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 22(4), pp. 781-803.

Huong, P.T.T. (2015). Living heritage, community participation and sustainability: redefining development strategies in Hoi An Ancient Town World Heritage property, Viet Nam. In S. Labadi and W. Logan (eds.), Urban Heritage, Development and Sustainability: International Frameworks, National and Local Governance. London: Routledge.

ISTM (2010). Hoi An City’s Ecotourism Development over the Past Ten Years and Its Vision Towards 2030: An Eco-City. Paper presented at the APEC Ecotourism Conference, Sendai, Japan.

James, M. (2006). Assessment, teaching and theories of learning. Assessment and Learning, 47-60.

James, U. (2010). “Real Culture” Preservation, Authenticity, and Change in Hoi An’s Heritage Tourism Industry. Independent Study Project Collection, 873.

Jensen, S. (2004). Claiming community. Local politic on the cape flats, South Africa. Critique of Antropology, 24(2), pp. 179-207. DOI:

Kurin, R. (2007). Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage: Key factors in implementing the 2003 Convention. International Journal of Intangible Heritage, 2, pp. 9-20.

Lave, J. and Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Leach, E. (1984). Further thoughts on the realm of folly. In Bruner, E.M. (ed.), Text, play, and story: The construction and reconstruction of self and society (pp. 356-364). Washington: American Ethnological Society.

Lewicka, M. (2011). Place attachment: How far have we come in the last 40 years? Journal of Environmental Psychology, 31, pp. 207-230. DOI:

Low, S.M. and Altman, I. (1992). Place attachment: a conceptual inquiry. In I. Altman, and S.M. Low (eds.), Place attachment (pp. 1-12). New York: Plenum Press.

Macdonald, S.J. (2012). Museums, national, postnational and transcultural identities. Museum studies: An anthology of contexts, pp. 273-286.

Oosterbeek, L. & Pollice, F. (2014). Cultural Heritage and Local Development. Local Communities Through Heritage awareness and Global Understanding. Territori della Cultura, 18.

Palmer, C. (1999). Tourism and the symbols of identity. Tourism Management, 20, pp. 313-321. DOI:

Pine, J. and Gilmore, J. (1999). The experience economy. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Raymond, C.M., Brown, G. & Weber, D. (2010). The measurement of place attachment: Personal, community, and environmental connections. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, pp. 422-434.

Relph, E. (1976). Place and placelessness. London: Pion Limited.

Roberts, J. (2006). Limits to communities of practice. Journal of Management Studies, 43(3), pp. 623-639. DOI:

Ruiz, E. & Hernández, M. (2007). Identity and community - Reflections on the development of mining heritage tourism in Southern Spain. Tourism Management, 28(3), pp. 677-687. DOI:

Scannell, L. and Gifford, R. (2010). Defining place attachment: A tripartite organizing framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30, pp. 1-10. DOI:

Shumaker, S.A. & Taylor, R.B. (1983). Toward a clarification of people - place relationships: A model of attachment to place. In N. Feimer & E.S. Geller (eds.), Environmental psychology: Directions and perspectives (pp. 219-251). New York: Praeger.

Sims, R. (2009). Food, place and authenticity: Local food and the sustainable tourism experience. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 17(3), pp. 321-336.

Smallbone, D., Kitching, J. & Athayde, R. (2010). Ethnic diversity, entrepreneurship and competitiveness in a global city. International Small Business Journal, 28(2), pp. 174-190.

Smith, L. & Akagawa, N. (2009). Intangible heritage. London: Routledge.

Snyder, W. & De Souza Briggs, X. (2010). Communities of Practice: A New Tool for Government Managers. Arlington, VA: IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Stebbins, R. (1997). Identity and cultural tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 24, pp. 450-452. DOI:

Tran, P. (2016). The geography of the ancient kingdom of Champa in Central Vietnam, Vietnam. Retrieved from: [March 13, 2016]

Trentelman, C.K. (2009). Place attachment and community attachment: A primer grounded in the lived experience of a community sociologist. Society and Natural Resources, 22, pp. 191-210. DOI:

Trinh, T.T., Ryan, C. & Cave, J. (2014). Souvenir sellers and perceptions of authenticity – The retailers of Hoi An, Vietnam. Tourism Management, 45, pp. 275-283. DOI:

Tuan, Y.F. (1975). Place: An experiential perspective. Geographical Review, 65, pp. 151-165.

Tuan, Y.F. (1977). Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Ujang, N. (2010). Place attachment and continuity of urban place identity. Asian Journal of Environment - Behavior Studies, 1(2), pp. 61-76. DOI:

UNESCO (2001). UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. Retrieved from: [October 12, 2015]

UNESCO. (2008). The Effects of Tourism on Culture and the Environment in Asia and the Pacific: Cultural Tourism and Heritage Management in the World Heritage Site of the Ancient Town of Hoi An, Vietnam. Bangkok: UNESCO.

UNESCO (2015). Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Paris: UNESCO.

UNESCO (2016). Hoi An ancient town. Retrieved from: [March 13, 2016]

Vidal, M. (2008). Intangible heritage tourism and identity. Tourism Management, 29(4), pp. 807-810. DOI:

Wang, S. & Chen, J.S. (2015). The influence of place identity on perceived tourism impacts. Annals of Tourism Research, 52, pp. 16-28. DOI:

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R.A. & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.

Wenger, E. & Snyder, W. (2000). Communities of practice: The organizational frontier. Harvard Business Review, 78(1), pp. 139-146.

Wong, C.U.I. (2014). The Preservation of Macau's Intangible Colonial Heritage: the Case of Patúa. Tourism Culture & Communication, 14(2), pp. 91-102. DOI:

Yang, C.-H., Lin, H.L. & Han, C.-C. (2010). Analysis of international tourist arrivals in China: The role of World Heritage Sites. Tourism Management, 31(6), pp. 827-837. DOI:

Yin, R. (1994). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.




How to Cite

Fusté-Forné, F., & Nguyen, T. (2018). Communities of Practice, Identity and Tourism: Evidence on Cultural Heritage Preservation in World Heritage Sites. Almatourism - Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development, 9(18), 1–22.