Author:Nina Graeff (Universidade Federal da Paraíba)
Paper short abstract:
The inventory-making of Samba de Roda seems to fixate something that is highly dynamic and flexible, while excluding many of its fundamental aspects as well as reducing and defining the way it shall be practiced, as examples from ethnographic fieldwork in 2010 and 2014 show.
Paper long abstract:
The Samba de Roda from Recôncavo da Bahia, Brazil, was nominated Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005. This presupposed the inventory-making of the music and dance tradition in a book with a CD and led to its institutionalization: a samba association was founded in which samba groups must be registered for being recognized as such and a center of reference with a museum was created, among other implementations. What does it imply to circumscribe something intangible, a dynamic practice, a process and not a product, into geographical, historical and terminological boundaries? Some examples from fieldwork in Bahia in 2010 and 2014 show that inventory-making, which intends to map and thereby represent an expression form, fixates something that is highly dynamic and flexible, while excluding many of its fundamental aspects - sometimes very arbitrarily - as well as reducing and defining the way it shall be practiced. Such paradoxes correspond well to the difference pointed out by Connerton (1989) between "inscribing" and "incorporating practices" followed by Taylor (2003) in the dichotomy "archive" vs. "repertoire". It seems that the archive, the documentation, the inventory, i.e. the institutionalized knowledge about a practice ends up shaping its repertoire.
Inventorying intangible cultural heritage: a new utopia?