Reflexions on the key dispositif(1) adopted by Unesco’s Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Article 2.3). In these Comments, I initially situate the notion of ‘safeguarding’ in the context of transformations of other preservation instruments which it dialogues and to whose semantic field it belongs. Challenges to its implementation and possibilities opened by this treaty for the protection of what has been designated as ‘folklore and traditional (and popular) culture’(2) are addressed. After offering an interpretation of its textual meaning in the Convention, I seek to explore how this device is articulated to others in this Convention, and to reflect on its possible practical reach.
The expression ‘safeguarding intangible cultural heritage’ was formed within the context of transformations in the instruments and strategies for protecting cultural elements usually designated ‘folklore and traditional (and popular) culture’.(1) The adoption of a ‘cultural heritage approach’ to this subject was a somewhat turbulent process that drew, since the mid-twentieth century, a winding path of dialogues with, and divergences from, common sense notions and mainstream preservationist culture. Throughout this process, political and conceptual possibilities for social engineering were envisaged, some were discarded, choices were legitimized and, no less importantly, networks were formed of agents and narrators of the political and legal negotiations that eventually lead to designing UNESCO ICH Convention as officially adopted. This path will be explored in the following comments on the formation of safeguarding as a cultural heritage policy dispositive(2) and significant contrasts to other instruments, in relation to which it has acquired specificity, meaning and scope.
The final report of the 2018 Living Heritage Conference is available for download (in French). The conference celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Conseil québécois du patrimoine vivant and attracted over 250 attendees. The report outlines the discussions of the various thematic working groups on elements of intangible heritage in Canada as well as reflections on the use of the Global Result Framework of the 2003 Convention.
The Report demonstrates the benefits of involving ICH practicing communities and artists as intermediaries between the diverse groups of bearers and cultural organisations, in order to forge an equitable tripartite curation that might make collections and museum spaces alive and relevant to contemporary society. It also shows why, as a consequence, museums could benefit from reviewing and recasting their physical and practical boundaries. Bearer communities are guardians of our rich and diverse cultural traditions, collective memories, history, stories and rites and ritual practices.
Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee ICOMOS UK © 2018 – all rights reserved
The Participation in the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage: The role of Communities, Groups and Individuals
The aim of this book is to understand whether participatory methodologies are being applied in the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) or not. If it is possible to identify problems, advantages, good practices or clues that support new and more effective participatory techniques.
Confronting the theory with the practices, the author concluded that the participation of communities, groups and individuals (CGIs) is still residual. In the scope of ICH safeguard projects, Filomena Sousa identifies five aspects that make this difficult to achieve: 1) excessive centrality of the States in the heritagization process; 2) diversity of interpretations of the concepts; 3) deficit of information among the CGIs; 4) deficit of experience in the improvement of teams composed of different actors and 5) deficit of methods and professionals to operationalise the participation.
After describing each of these obstacles, the author presents a methodological suggestion that can be adapted to different moments of the safeguarding process, which should be understood as flexible and adaptable according to the cultural contexts.
O objetivo deste livro é perceber se as metodologias participativas estão a ser aplicadas no âmbito da salvaguarda do Património Cultural Imaterial (PCI). Nesta obra a autora identifica dificuldades, vantagens, boas práticas e pistas que sustentam novas e mais eficazes técnicas de participação.
Do confronto da teoria com as práticas conclui-se que, sendo a participação das comunidades, grupos e indivíduos (CGIs) enfatizada nos discursos, na realidade, esse envolvimento ainda é residual. A autora identifica cinco aspetos que dificultam essa concretização: 1) a excessiva centralidade dos Estados nos processos de patrimonialização; 2) a diversidade das interpretações dos conceitos; 3) a falta de informação entre os CGIs; 4) a falta de experiência na dinamização de equipas compostas por diferentes atores e 5) a falta de método e de profissionais para operacionalizar a participação.
Filomena Sousa apresenta ainda uma sugestão metodológica que poderá adequar-se às diferentes fases do processo de salvaguarda e que deve ser entendida como modal e adaptável conforme os contextos culturais.
After the establishment of nation states, the process of decolonisation and the formation of supranational unions after the Second World War, the concept of intangible heritage became the response to the heavy focus of heritage discourse of protecting monuments and sites. In 1992, UNESCO recognised “Cultural Landscapes” as the combined work of nature and man, establishing the important role of people in shaping the land. Cultural communities started to be integrated to the process of heritage making, which includes their associated traditional customs and spiritual beliefs. At the end of the 20th century, the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted in 2003, which was aimed at promoting cultural diversity and protecting traditional practices, belief systems, knowledge & skills of communities, amidst the formation of homogenous global societies. This paper looks into the intangible heritage of some cultural landscapes inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, showing the deep-seated connection between people’s identities and traditions that are found in heritage sites. It identifies cultural identity as a central concept to the discourse of heritage, both in its tangible and intangible forms. It points out to the need for a holistic view that practitioners and researchers now require to document cultural practices and protect heritage sites, which goes beyond the confines of traditional academic disciplines. Comprehensively mapping the cultural significance of different heritage typologies can provide a deeper understanding of the formation of identities of cultural communities.