By focusing on various roles that academically trained ethnographers play either overtly or covertly in the UNESCO's program of intangible cultural heritage, the panel aims to comprehend the current profile of ethnographic disciplines and, especially, their prospects in the early 21st century.
UNESCO's program of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) figures as an exemplary compound of the congress keywords - i.e., of retro-utopias, mundane realities, heritage production, and the role of ethnology, cultural anthropology, folklore studies, ethnomusicology and ethnochoreology in the early 21st century. This panel focuses on the last component, asking whether the ICH program functions as just an additional market niche for the application of ethnographic knowledge or is, rather, a symptom of a broader transformation of ethnographic scholarship into facilitation of collaborative strategies (including advocacy and activism) and new forms of education (in particular so-called "capacity building"), mediation between communities, governments and various stakeholders (including private sector enterprises), and unspecified expertise that is still necessary for writing and examining a growing amount of various ICH documents. Significantly, although the program deals with the subject matter of ethnographic disciplines and relies on their contemporary canon (in particular by positioning communities as central authorities), the names of the disciplines very rarely appear in ICH material (and then frequently in negative sense), and academically trained ethnographers, although they do participate in the program, are hidden under the umbrella of NGOs, governmental bodies, communities concerned or, at best, make a part of "experts". The panel participants are invited to provide in-depth description of the roles of academically trained ethnographers in the ICH program, with a special focus on their contribution to the program's (as well as disciplinary) utopian potential and/or the realities on the ground (e.g. harmonious humanity, commercial expediency, sustainable development, etc.).