Accepted Paper:

Intangible cultural heritage, mobility and safeguarding  


Johanna Björkholm (Åbo Akademi University / The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland)

Paper short abstract:

My case study concerns traditional music in the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland. I investigate how this genre has been discussed, transformed, standardized and objectified. What does this imply in terms of safeguarding and further possibilities of circulation?

Paper long abstract:

Cultural heritage is generally used as a token of value. Certain cultural components, both intangible and tangible, that are discussed in terms of cultural heritage. They will be perceived as valuable and should consequently be safeguarded. In my paper I will discuss how certain genres of traditional music were selected and ascribed with special status in the Swedish-speaking districts of Finland. Over time, these genres appeared to be objective intangible cultural heritage.

Intangible cultural heritage depends on performance, that is practitioners using their bodies to act out their traditional knowledge, here through song and musical execution. Intangible cultural components can be transmitted to other individuals in a performance situation, and they can also be documented. In Finland documentation and subsequent filing in archives have been associated with safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.

How does standardization, which is oftentimes an effect both of cultural heritage status and of documentation affect the vitality of intangible cultural elements? Can standardization and mobility even co-exist? If not, what does this imply for safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage? I will argue that solid fixation of intangible cultural elements should be avoided.

Panel P38
Cultural heritage, status and mobility