Dr Reuben Grima studied archaeology at the universities of Malta and Reading, and read for his PhD at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL. He joined the curatorial staff of the Museum of Archaeology in 1992. From 2003 to 2011, he joined Heritage Malta as Senior Curator responsible for prehistoric Word Heritage Sites. In 2011, he moved to the Department of Conservation and Built Heritage at the University of Malta, where he lectures in cultural heritage management. His current research interests include cultural landscapes, the history of archaeology, and public engagement with the past.
Valletta today is a city in flux, and presents an instructive case of how urban space may become an arena for contestation between widely diverging interests. Over the past decade, there has been an exponential increase in appreciation of the qualities of the city. Valletta now risks becoming a victim of its own success. The desire to exploit the character of the city is resulting in progressive commodification of a significant proportion of its built fabric, in order to accommodate more and more boutique hotel accommodation, catering establishments, and self-catering accommodation for visitors. While this transformation is widely celebrated in several quarters, the impact it is having on established resident communities has been rather less widely commented upon. Here it will be argued that the progressive erosion of the qualities of the historic environment is a form of public impoverishment, and erosion of the well-being of the communities that live there.