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Identifying Intangible CulturalHeritageICH and Museums Field School 2011Lamphun, ThailandMichelle Stefano

• The diversity of ICH• Identification processwithin the UNESCOframework• Key Questions (Criticalthinking time!)• Community-basedidentification activitiesBAGPIPE PLAYERS,ENGLAND

Diversity of Intangible Cultural Expressions• ICH is embodied by people– Knowledge• History• Meanings / Messages / Secrets• Places / Sites– Skills / talent / techniques / know-how– Beliefs (e.g., Yao shamans)– Significance (why is it important?)– Values (collective messages / meanings)

Language as an example of ICH diversity- Diverse languages /Language Barriers- Different grammar- Different ways of expressingideas- Languages are dying- Languages are constantlychanging- Language is embodied bypeople and it changesthrough people- LOL, ROFL, BRB- “Tweeting” is a verb not justfor birds!

ICH FamiliesDanceStepsLocal AccentSWORD DANCECostumeMakingMusic

With all this diversity, how can ICH beidentified?

Street Calligraphy (paintedin water), BeijingStreet Mime, Antwerp

A Turkish dinner at my apartment, Newcastle

Nighttime Religious Procession, Pico Island, Azores, Portugal

Pico Island Vineyards (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Azores

Student learning folk music in Northern England

Luckily, we are at the local level!• This is where ICH lives and evolves and isembodied by its source communities, groupsand individuals• Work with communities and learn about theimportance of their living traditions• Identify the ICH that is considered mostvaluable to help safeguardWorking from the“bottom up”

Identification of ICH in the UNESCOReview:Framework- 136 States Parties (as of June 25 th , 2011)- The implementation of the 2003 Convention is theresponsibility of States Parties (nationalgovernments)Who is in charge of identifying ICH?Museums? Ministries of Culture/Tourism?Universities? Other agencies/orgs?

International + National Levels(“non-local level”)“TOP DOWN”Local Level – focus ofUNESCO efforts

Identification of ICH in the UNESCO FrameworkPart III: Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage at theNational LevelArticles 11 + 12:1. Identify and define the various elements of ICHin its territory with the participation ofcommunities, groups and relevant NGOs2. To ensure identification, one or moreinventories of ICH are to be drawn up(LEGAL REQUIREMENT)

In the UNESCO FrameworkIdentification = inventorying,listing, grouping, categorizingcultural practices and beliefsBut what is listed? How does ithappen? Who decides? Whatare the requirements? Whatdoesn’t get identified/listed?The annual harvest ofolives, Tuscany, Italy

Do ICH practitioners want to becomeinvolved?

Structure of Identification Process1. National Inventories--------------------------------------------------------------2. Representative List of the Intangible CulturalHeritage of Humanity (Representative List)– 2001, 2003 + 2005 Proclamations of the Oral andIntangible Heritage of Humanity (MasterpiecesProgramme)3. List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need ofUrgent Safeguarding (Urgent List)– First inscriptions October, 2009 (12 ICH „elements‟)

Criteria – Operational Directives, 2010Representative List:1. Meets the UNESCO ICH definition2. Serves to reflect cultural diversity worldwide3. Community participation / consent achieved4. On national inventory

Criteria – Operational Directives, 2010Urgent List:1. Meets UNESCO ICH definition2. ‘Viability at risk’Or:3. Cannot survive without immediate safeguarding4. Community participation / consent5. On national inventory

Nomination files for international lists aredrawn up by States Parties Intergovernmental CommitteeWho is making decisions? Who is nominating?Qiang New YearFestivalSichuan Province,ChinaUrgent List, 2009

National InventoriesKey Stakeholders1. UNESCO representatives (Committee)2. States Parties – representatives at the nationallevel (prepare nominations)3. Regional / local government representatives4. NGOs (as mentioned in the 2003 Convention)5. ICH Practitioners?

Community Involvement in theUNESCO framework?The extent to which communities are involvedin the safeguarding process is…VAGUE!“Each State Party shall endeavour to ensure thewidest possible participation of communities, groupsand, where appropriate, individuals that create,maintain and transmit such heritage, and to involvethem actively in its management” (UNESCO, 2003:Article 15).

ICH PractitionersOperational Directives, 2010:(Chapter III.1)“Participation of communities, groups and, whereapplicable, individuals, as well as experts, centresand research institutes”Why separate “communities, groups and individuals”from “experts”? Who are these „experts‟ then?

Can communities, groups and individualsbe considered „experts‟ in their own ICHexpressions?

ICH PractitionersChapter III, paragraph 79 (OD, 2010) :„…communities, groups and individuals whocreate, maintain and transmit ICH…‟“ICH bearers”- Passive, non-critical people- Expected to just „keep on doing‟ ICH- But they are agents of change!

Who should be identifying ICH?Who do you think shouldbe identifying ICH withinyour region/country?What professional skillsshould they possess?

• Ethnomusicologists• Linguists• Anthropologists• Folklore specialists…Specialists in:- Culinary skills- Dance- Religions- craftsmanshipPerhaps…(DON‟T FORGET: WE AREDEALING WITH DIVERSITY!!)

Critiques of ListsBasic premise: in order to safeguard ICH, it needs to firstbe identified…Categorization lists (inventories) is problematic:- Itemizes heritage expressions- Adds non-source/local values to expressions- Disconnects expressions from source communities,groups and individuals, as well as significance andvalues (Hafstein 2009, BKG 2004/2006)- Excludes heritage expressions (not everything isgoing to be listed!)

Key Questions1. How can one cultural expression represent another?2. What is the use of having ongoing, ever-expandinglists/selections of ICH?3. When a cultural practice or belief is designated as„intangible cultural heritage‟, how can its local levelsignificance, values and meanings be kept intact?(How can the relationships between the ICH element andits source communities, groups and individuals besafeguarded?)

Most importantly…How can localcommunities, groups andindividuals – the agentsof ICH – be involved inidentifying andinventorying ICH?

ICH in Scotland• The United Kingdom has yet to ratifythe 2003 Convention• However: Scotland has gone aheadas if it has been ratified• “ICH in Scotland” focusing oninventorying the ICH found within itsterritory (old + new „Scottish‟traditions)

Let‟s return to the local level

In an ideal world…• Experience, walk around, livein the area• Build rapport withcommunities• Observation• Note taking / digitaldocumentation• Informal interviews formal interviews

Community Maps• “…is a map producedcollaboratively byresidents of a certainlocale, often featuringlocal knowledge andresources” (Parker,2006)• Often incorporatesalternative knowledge(vs. more official maps)– Mapping of an area withold place names– Mapping memories andevents

Understandings of the ICH of an area canbe gained through mapping due to theirrelationships to certain places (ex. Wat TonKaew / Spirit House)

Geographic Information Systems(GIS)• “A computerized database management systemthat is capable of capture, storage, retrieval,analysis and display of spatial (locationallydefined) data” (NCGIA).– Allows users to work with different sets of datagathered for diverse purposes by severalorganizations, agencies or individuals– Think of it as combining/creating a layered cake ofdifferent kinds of maps of the same area.

Does the number of McDonalds correspond to the number of childrenunder 18 years living in the area?Street mapdata for acertain areaData onwhere all theMcDonaldsare locatedCensus data onages ofresidentsDefine area bypostcodeGISAPPLICATIONFindings can then be compared to other postcode areas



PPGISPublic Participation GIS• The use of GIS technology by citizens andcommunities– Benefits: Increase citizen engagement indecision-making, social inclusion,empowerment and democracy.– Problems: Access to this technology may belacking and learning the skills for using GIS

Wat Ton Kaew video presentation, 2011

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