Author:Lee Haring (Brooklyn College)
Paper short abstract:
Conflicting conceptions of value perpetuate a fracture between rival claimants. A case study demonstrates the divide between management of heritage-related processes by UNESCO and the lively activities of local tradition-bearers.
Paper long abstract:
"The ancient world has become irrevocably detached from our own," wrote Jean Seznec before the outbreak of the second World War. Most worlds, most interpretive or textual communities, are now irrevocably detached from one another, if not internally fractured; hence the challenges of heritage-making (heritagization). A proposal for UNESCO recognition of a musical form practiced in the islands of the Southwest Indian Ocean demonstrates the fracture between management of heritage-related processes by official cultural authorities and the lively activities of ongoing performance by unofficial tradition-bearers. To theorize such fractures, one set of coordinates aiding comprehension is translation theory, which explores issues like the fidelity of a certain translation and the ethics of mediation between cultures. A second set is the well-established notion of ethnographic fiction, the synthesis of narrative techniques with field observation, problematic for anthropologists. A third set of coordinates is the conflict of theories around creolization (the renegotiation of culture under sociopolitical pressure), and its opposite, cosmopolitanism (the capacity to live easily among or above multiplicities). Today, at the same time that an international community of heritage makers is being born, local and national ownership of traditions is being claimed. If theorizing such fractures does not resolve contradictions, it at least does not repress them in the interest of a contrived mediation.
Theorizing heritage fractures, divides and gaps