This panel will explore ethnographic contributions to uncovering the processes of institutionalisation attendant on the incorporation of culture into the global challenges agenda, and its impact on local arts practice and arts-related activism.
Recent global agendas signal a shift towards a seemingly revised politics of development and activism across North and South, with the Hangzhou Declaration providing a particularly strong programmatic statement of the scope for culture to contribute to goals such as poverty reduction, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability (UNESCO, 2013). Traditional art practices, skills and knowledge, also recognised as intangible cultural heritage, today are involved in changing the practices of 'development' in response to Global Challenges. The extent to which communities, through their traditional knowledge and arts, respond to urgent global issues, and the mechanisms by which these responses are becoming institutionalised initiatives, is still under-investigated. We are interested in discussing how cultural traditions and practices rewrite (and are reworked by) global-local initiatives in response to issues of poverty, environmental degradation, unemployment and inequalities. What are the uncertainties, disruptions and impacts imposed by development agenda on performers and their art practices and traditional knowledge? How do new practices of development institutionalise, discipline or exclude traditional art practices? We invite contributions from anthropologists, practitioners and those who use ethnography in applied contexts to engage in a discussion about the challenges of using traditional practices and knowledges to reach sustainable development goals, and the contribution anthropological investigation can make to understanding local answers to global challenges. Reference: UNESCO, 2013, 'Culture: Key to Sustainable Development', Proceedings from the Hangzhou International Congress. Hangzhou, China: UNESCO Press.