Accepted Paper:

The making of local intangible heritage: jewellery making in Valenza, Italy  

Author:

Michele Fontefrancesco (Durham University)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on the case of jewellery making in Valenza and the recent institution of a geographic indication brands, i point out that the role of anthropology is to shed light and problematize the process of commodification and typization of the locale that a market-oriented definition of intangible heritage entails.

Paper long abstract:

Geographic indication brands [GIs] are fundamentally connected to a rhetoric of authenticity that highlights the existence and certifies the genuineness of a unique local intangible heritage. In this paper, I take in consideration the development and implementation of a GI for local jewellery production in Valenza, Italy. In so doing, I highlight the process that brought to the definition of such heritage, the jeweller's craftsmanship, and show the actors (State, local government, and goldsmith professional organizations) and actions that this process involved: from localizing the heritage to defining it. Drawing on the work of Heller (2007), I point out that this process of definition of intangible heritage enforced technoscientific quality standard, instituted in the regulations of the brand, over techne-oriented understanding of production that may exist on the local level, in order to achieve the demand of the global market. In so doing, I point out that such brands resulted into crafting local heritage and impose it over the local community. In my paper, thus, I emphasize that the role of anthropology is to shed light and problematize the process of commodification and typization of the locale that such a market-oriented definition of intangible heritage entails.

Panel P06
Intangible heritage and the challenges for the theory and practice of anthropology