Accepted paper:

Reworking Culture, Identity, and Community: UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in a Glocal Context


Tomiyuki Uesugi (Seijo University)

Paper short abstract:

Globally recognizing the nomination of cultural items on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list necessitates reworking culture, identity and community in a glocal context. The consequence is that the long-standing concepts of culture, identity and community themselves have been challenged.

Paper long abstract:

In my presentation, I will examine the joint efforts of local people in Korea and Japan to invent and/or redefine the culture of female fisher-divers known as haenyeo (Korea) and ama (Japan), in preparation for the nomination of this activity for inscription on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Analyzing these movements in the glocal context, as examples of both globalization and localization, it becomes apparent that they are illustrative of how culture, identity and community are constantly produced and reproduced in response to the ever-changing world. While these movements may be considered simply as reflecting an interest in redefining local culture, identity and community within the framework of a globally-recognized organization such as UNESCO, the deeper, broader and socio-cultural implications of the movements are much more visible when considering them from the glocal point of view. We can see, for example, that the movements represent continuous efforts to define and redefine culture, identity and community over time; moreover, they highlight a shift in conceptualizing culture, identity and community themselves, from monolithic (one country, one culture) concepts to pluralistic, multi-sited ones comprising local and global networks.

panel WMW05
Intangible cultural heritage, memory and self-hood (IUAES Commission on Intangible Cultural Heritage)