‘Safeguarding’, a key dispositif of the ICH convention
Arantes, Antonio. 2019. ‘Safeguarding’, a key dispositif of the ICH convention. Vibrant, Virtual Braz. Anthr. vol.16 Brasília.
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.