Sitios de Memoria

Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean
Places of Memory of the Slave Route Project in the Latin Caribbean Methodology for Its Implementation



One of the most transcendental phenomena in the history of the Caribbean was the slave trade, the centuries-old basis for the colonial plantation economy and cultural foundation of our present societies and nationalities. There are still numerous valuable examples of this legacy disseminated throughout the region, many of them of universal significance. However, there has not been an impartial regional assessment of this legacy, of its diversity and dimension, of the cultural wealth associated with its communities, which is expressed in languages, beliefs, rites, cuisine, festivities and traditional techniques.

Documenting the full range of diversity through which the Places of Memory of the Slave Route manifest themselves in the Latin Caribbean is therefore fundamental to the implementation of regional strategies for the conservation, promotion, and thorough assessment of this cultural heritage.

Based on the logical differences existing in the study and protection between both tangible and intangible heritages, as a result of the 30 years between the Convention for the Protection of Cultural and Natural Heritage, and the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, differences evident in a greater identification of the properties associated with the Slave Route in the region in comparison to the intangible manifestations of this phenomenon, this Registry of the Places of Memory of the Slave Route gives greater weight to tangible heritage, without disregarding the intangible heritage of the bearer community.


  • to verify the diversity of material evidences of the Slave Route in the Caribbean, their relationship with the communities and their intangible dimension expressed through the various manifestations of live cultures;
  • to assess the conditions of these properties and the management policies regarding them. To contribute to increase the value of such legacy to serve the development strategies of local communities, including tourism and educational projects for youth and children;
  • to propitiate the study and conservation of such legacy, and stimulate State parties of the Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage to nominate the most relevant property in the region to the World Heritage List;
  • to make a selection of the most significant places of memory as well as the masterpieces of the oral and intangible cultural heritage of humanity in the region and include them in a publication that will help to fulfill other objectives previously described.


The methodology to prepare the Register consists of three key elements: the Methodological Instruction, the Site Registration Form and the Form in Text Format. All three elements are on paper and digital support.

The Methodological Instruction aims to provide a vision of the inventory’s objectives and rules for gathering and processing the information to be included in the Form, as well as the format for submitting the information, the working schedule and the publication of results.

The Site Registration Form: will be used to record both on paper and digitally the information requested in each field, once the parameters to be registered according to the definitions in the methodological instruction have been fully analyzed and understood.

The Form in Text Format: aims to facilitate the edition of the final publication, which will summarize the most significant features of the property, its historic evolution as well as its associated tangible and intangible values, drafted in a very explicit way.

Site Registration Form:

Description of the fields:

One of the most important elements when registering a property is the definition of the terms to use in each field. Though defining terms like country or address are obvious, at times it is necessary to work with other less usual terms, and sometimes new, or specific terms, adopted from less known typologies, such as cultural landscapes and cultural itineraries, making it necessary to restrict their scope whenever possible. However, the impossibility of restricting certain fields such as uses or denomination, for example, suggests that it is not always advisable to define a rigid group of variables, which might yield false or insufficient information.


The information to be included in the form is structured in seven chapters:

  • Identification: contains the basic information for the search and identification of a property registered in a database;
  • General Information: collects the most general information about the property, related to any of the inventoried categories and which does not require a high degree of specialization for processing;
  • Intangible Manifestations Associated with the Property: according to the categories acknowledged by the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, manifestations associated with the property will be registered;
  • Specific Information: the diversity of the categories integrating the places of memory within the Slave Route, requires that more specific data be included in each Category. Each registered property will require only information about its own category;
  • Information for Assessment: though this is also general information, it requires greater specialization. It could even be subject to later assessments at the national or regional level since its objective is to help differentiate properties of outstanding value in the region;
  • Management of the Property: because of the importance of management for the conservation of heritage, a separate chapter is devoted to this topic, with emphasis on the management of the property, resources and education;
  • References: this contains basically the management of information, bibliographical sources available, who is responsible for the information provided, notes, as well as any observation or comment considered necessary by the specialist filling in the model.

Description by Chapter:

I - Identification:

 I-1: Entry code: a consecutive number of four digits beginning with 0001. The sequence will be according to the order in which the models have been filled in. Its objective is simply to organize the work and it is basically conceived for the automated database, though it could also be very useful for those who carry out the field work.
I-2: Code: it is a key identification when searching for information. The code has the following structure: _ _ _ . _ . _ _ _  that is, seven spaces separated by two dots: the first three spaces correspond to the code of the country according to the UN Standard Country or Area Codes for Statistical Use, which establishes for Aruba: ABW, Cuba: CUB, Haiti: HTI and Dominican Republic: DOM. The space between the two dots is the Classification of the Property, and uses small letters as follows: cultural landscapes: l; cultural itinerary: r; population settlement: t; agro-industrial complex: a; building: c; and site: s. The three last spaces correspond to a consecutive number of three digits for the cultural properties of the same country with the same classification. For example: HTI. l. 001 corresponds to a cultural landscape in Haiti.
I-3: National Code: probably each country already has a preliminary inventory in which the property being registered already has a code. It is thus important to include it in the form to facilitate the reference to existing or future national inventories. If there is no previous code, do not fill in this item.
I-4: Present name: write down the denomination or name through which the property is known.
I-5: Historic name: previous names of the property, specifying the original one.

II - General Information:

 II-1: Location: indicate the country; the fields “province” and “municipality” are internal territorial divisions that will be filled only according to the internal structure of the country’s territorial divisions, always taking into account that the country is divided into or contains the provinces, and that the province is divided into or contains the municipalities.
II-2: Uses: present and historic uses of the property will be identified, putting emphasis on the main uses and those more related to the presence of slaves and slavery in the place.
II-3: Classification: write an “x” in the box that corresponds to the correct classification of the property. Each box is exclusive, only one can be marked. Determining the correct or proper classification is crucial for Chapter IV- Specific Information, as in this chapter only the data of the corresponding Classification will be specified.
II-4: Categories of protection: this refers to the legal protection within the national scope or to international categories in which the property is already included. Mark the corresponding category of protection with an “x”. Several categories can be marked, and if you mark Others, explain which.
II-5: Function – testimony: this item aims at differentiating the properties registered, based on their purpose from the point of view of slavery or from the point of view of the evidences contained in the property. Mark the corresponding box with an “x”. The selection is exclusive.
II-6: Specify if the property is included in the Indicative List of the State Party of the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
II-7: Accessibility: mark the suitable term characterizing transportation to the property. Properties will be considered accessible when it is possible to reach them by regular transportation systems; not easily accessible when a regular transportation system is not an option and it is therefore necessary to arrange a special transport to reach the place; inaccessible for those that cannot be reached by means of automotive transportation. Mark the adequate classification with an “x”. The selection is exclusive.
II-8: Ownership: mark the adequate classification with an “x”. The selection is exclusive. Specify if you mark Others.
II-9: Level of accessibility: level of physical protection of the site. It will be free when the site can be accessed and visited freely, such as public spaces, vacant or non delimited plots lacking vigilance; restricted are those sites that can only be visited or accessed through a specific request, but that are delimited or care for by the owner; exclusive are those that are under strict control and that can be visited exceptionally (military areas, for example).

III - Intangible Cultural Manifestations Associated with the Property:

III-1: Ethnic composition of the community: specify the presence of a population of African ascent, ratio and degree of mixing. If possible, give details of the specific region of Africa they come from. Give details about the development of everyday community life.
III-2: Type of intangible heritage manifestations: detailed description of the manifestations present in the community settled in the place that make it a cultural space, as well as their most significant characteristics, such as nature, periodicity, manner of implementation, etc.
III-3: Substantiate the assessment of the site as a cultural space.

IV - Specific Information:

 IV-1: Cultural Landscapes:

IV-1-a: Location: specify coordinates of the property in degrees, minutes and seconds, taking its geographic center as reference.
IV-1-b: Area: the surface area of the property will be expressed in km2.
IV-1-c: Population: specify the number of inhabitants in the site according to the most recent census; specify in case the figure is an estimate.
IV-1-d: Type: the type of landscape will be specified according to the definitions established in this regard by ICOMOS and by the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the Convention on Cultural Heritage. There is only one possible choice.
IV-1-e: Eco-geographic characteristics: briefly describe the most important features of the vegetation, fauna, topography and geology of the landscape. For example, autochthonous species and, if there are any, endangered or vulnerable species, configuration of the relief, geological structure, etc.
IV-1-f: Environmental conditions: define minimum, average and maximum temperature, in 0C, exposure to sun and predominant winds.
IV-1-g: Landscape surroundings: considering that landscapes in the region generally have three key components, namely, natural, urban and agro-productive surroundings, a brief description of each is required, including dangers and vulnerabilities.

When characterizing each type of landscape, please take the following into account:

  • In designed landscapes, such as historic gardens, botanical gardens and others, describe in detail the design, types of plants, decorative elements, sculptures, hydraulic facilities, buildings.
  • In fossil evolving landscapes describe in detail the archaeological components, buildings and other man-made elements, vestiges of ancient agricultural productions and others on the natural environment, land uses, etc.
  • In continuous evolving landscapes describe in detail agricultural systems or other traditional productions and their effects on the landscape, land use, persistence of traditional production implements, transportation, storage, isolated buildings or domestic, industrial or other types of compounds, hydraulic and energy facilities.
  • In associative landscapes describe the natural components (mountains, rivers, caves or others) of the landscape that could be related or associated to traditional or ancestral beliefs, cults as well as rites and the elements built by man that are now part of the system, such as commemorative monuments, landmarks, signs, buildings or other compounds like shrines, sanctuaries or others.

IV-1-h: Importance of nature and landscapes: describe the most significant natural and landscape elements, landmarks, visuals, evolution in time and by season.
IV-1-i: Historic-cultural importance: substantiate the cultural value of the landscape, the relationship man-nature, its evolution, how the landscape conditions the actions of man and vice versa.

IV-2: Cultural Itineraries:

For a better understanding of this category of monumental heritage, the document "Ideas for Drafting an International Map of Cultural Itineraries. Sixth Approach- December 2005” is attached.

IV-2-a: Location: describe the route of the itinerary, taking as reference geographical accidents, fluvial currents, population settlements or ways of communication.
IV-2-b: Area: the surface area will be expressed in km2.
IV-2-c: Extension: specify the length of the route in km, considering the sum of the whole network.
IV-2-d: Width: specify the average width in km.
IV-2-e: Classification: there are several ways to classify cultural itineraries, depending on the territorial framework in which they occur, their structure, function, natural environment and duration; in each case the classification of the itinerary in question must be specified. The selection is exclusive, that is, only one box can be marked per classification.
IV-2-f: Natural context: describe the natural environment in which the itinerary occurs.
IV-2-g: Content: describe the ways of communication along which the itinerary is structured and the most important elements that are part of it, such as population settlements, industries, workshops, plantations, ports, etc.
IV-2-h: Importance: substantiate the historical and cultural significance of the itinerary, its contribution to the development and to the socio-economic evolution of the territory.

IV-3: Population Settlements:

IV-3-a: Location: specify the coordinates of the population settlement in degrees, minutes and seconds, taking as reference its geographic center.
IV-3-b: Area: the surface area of the settlement will be expressed in km2.
IV-3-c: Population: specify the number of inhabitants of the settlement based on the most recent census. In case an estimate is given, specify.
IV-3-d: Date of foundation: date of foundation of the settlement.
Description: describe briefly the morphology, evolution landmarks, and urban layout, its significance as a place of memory.

IV-4: Agro-industrial Complex:

IV-4-a: Location: specify the coordinates of the complex in degrees, minutes and seconds, taking as reference its center or nucleus, that is, the place where the most important buildings and facilities are located.
IV-4-b: Area: the surface area of the complex will be expressed in km2.
IV-4-c: Population: report the number of inhabitants based on the most recent census. If an estimate is given, specify.
IV-4-d: Date of foundation: date of foundation of the complex.
Description: describe the structure of the complex, major buildings and elements as well as significant features of the production process, communications infrastructure and historic evolution.

IV-5: Buildings:

IV-5-a: Address: specify official address of the property, and if it is located in an urban or rural area.
IV-5-b: Type: depending on the original use of the building, mark the corresponding type. The selection is exclusive.
IV-5-c: Period of time: specify the year of construction and later modifications or expansions.
IV-5-d: Levels: maximum number of floors of the building.
IV-5-e: Area: specify in m2 the built area of the construction property.
IV-5-f: Lot area: specify in m2 the area of the lot occupied by the building.
IV-5-g: Characteristics of construction and materials: define the solutions of the structure and the main materials used in the roof, walls and woodwork.
IV-5-h: Description: detail the aspects that refer to the evolution of the building, decorative elements, original furniture, uses throughout history, etc.

IV-6: Sites:

IV-6-a: Location: specify coordinates of the site in degrees, minutes and seconds, taking as reference the geographic center.
IV-6-b: Type: explain the type of site according to the reason for which it is included in the Register of the Places of Memory, that could be: historic, archaeological or natural. Selection is exclusive, and according to the choice, you need to provide the information for each particular case.
IV-6-c: Area: the surface area of the complex will be expressed in Km2.
IV-6-d: Habitability: if the site is inhabited or not.
IV-6-1: Historic site: define relevant events and/or personalities associated to the site that make it relevant from a historic point of view. Give further details about the dates when the event or events occurred and the existence of commemorative constructions related to the event(s) or the personality(ies). The types of constructions to be referred to are: statues, plaques, obelisks, mausoleums, fountains, busts, sculptures, arcs of triumph and the like.
IV-6-2: Archaeological site: explain the context where the site is located, if on land or submerged, if research has been carried out, date of excavations or explorations and if there are any findings of interest.
IV-6-3: Natural site: provide information about its geomorphology, soils and period of formation.
IV-6-4: Brief report:

For historic sites: put emphasis in the event occurred, its historic significance, associated personalities, and details about any commemorative construction, author, materials, and formal characterization.
For archaeological sites: give information about the archaeological and scientific potential of the site, the excavation and exploration process and the final destination of the findings, their anthropological and sociological significance.
For natural sites: emphasize the value of the flora and the fauna, biological diversity and ecological systems, categories of environmental protection implemented and so on. Also provide information about the relationship of the site with manifestations of intangible heritage present.

V- Information for Assessment:

V-1: Values: values attributed to the property will be numbered in hierarchical order, beginning with 1 for the most relevant. Selection is not exclusive.
V-2: Conditions: depending on the conservation condition, state Good, Fair or Poor taking into account the physical behavior of its main components, their degree of deterioration and existing problems, if they are irreversible or not. Only one of the choices may be marked depending on the condition; the selection is exclusive.
V-3: Authenticity: it weighs the degree of transformations suffered by the property and expresses whether the property still bears the values identified in item III-1. Only one of the options will be marked depending on the authenticity of the property; the selection is exclusive.
V-4: Exceptionality: this comparative parameter is part of the value of the property and of its condition and authenticity, to underline its exceptionality at different levels: local, national, regional and global. Only one classification will be marked in each territorial scale, but they do not necessarily have to coincide; for example, a property can be exceptional at the local levels, relevant at the national level and ordinary at regional and world levels. This section can be subject to changes in the regional and global levels once the information of the whole region is processed. Item III-4-a will be used to describe the criteria by which the property is considered exceptional.

VI - Management of the Property:

VI-1: Management Plan: state if there is a management plan for the property, agency responsible for the Plan and who provides the funding for the conservation of the property, as well as the threats and pressures the property is subject to.
VI-2: Tourism: specify if there is tourism on the property, potentials, modalities, future projects and present infrastructure.
VI-3: Transmission: detail if there are educational programs that include the study of the property in question (Breaking the Silence, for example), type of school (elementary, secondary) and number of schools of each type, as well as any other form of transmission in place.

VII - References:

 VII-1: Control of information: specify who provided and monitored the information contained in the form as well as the agency responsible and date when the work was carried out.
VII-2: Bibliography about the property: include all the scientific or literary bibliography that has contributed to the study or assessment of the registered property.
VII-3: Notes: detail aspects that clarify the data in the model and other information attached.
VII-4: Observations: this is the place to include whatever aspects the experts wish to specify but cannot be registered in the ordinary fields of the Form.

Documents and information each country must submit:

The information to be submitted in each country as a report includes:
- An introduction about the Places of Memory in each country (one page, Times New Roman, 12).
- A map of the country with the location of each property proposed.
- One registration form with the information for each property proposed (each country can propose five properties, besides the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity and the world heritage sites related to the slave route).
- One model in text format for each property proposed (up to three pages, Times New Roman, 12).
- A map of the property proposed.
- Digital images of each property proposed, as well as others to be included with the introductory text submitted by each country.
- It would be advisable to complement the information with videos and/or music recordings, mostly in the case of works of the oral and intangible heritage.

In no case will the information submitted imply payment of copyrights, nor will it be subject to restrictions that could hinder the objectives of the project.

The preliminary report should include:
- A list of the property or properties proposed by each country.
- An introductory text on the Places of Memory in each country
- A map of the country with the location of each of the properties proposed.


a) Validation of the Project and working schedule- May 2006
b) Appointment of experts per country- June 15, 2006
c) Formal agreement on the working commitments - June 30, 2006
d) Preliminary report on the situation of each country’s report - September 30, 2006
e) Submission of the final report by each country- between February and July 2007.
f) Presentation of the publication- December 2007