Accepted Paper:

Tangible categories: "intangible heritage" as an instrument of sustainable development  


Marta Kucza

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the influence of the project-management scheme and the policies of safeguarding as "a force for sustainable development" (UNESCO) on the practices that are being represented as "intangible heritage".

Paper long abstract:

This paper addresses the paradoxes of policies and schemes of safeguarding intangible heritage as a « force for sustainable development », as formulated by UNESCO. Orality, one of the strongests features of artistic practice in the Republic of Congo, a critical agency conveying representations of the past and shaping relationships between various actors, materializes itself as « intangible heritage » as soon as it gets implicated in the network of policy, management and control.

The core of Espace Tiné's enterprise was to create a place for artistic residences, where a video archive of oral performances might be a source of inspiration for other performative art works. Its approach was influenced by the liberty of transforming existing practices, as well as the dialogic character of artistic expression. What shape did these oral practices take in writing when they became « intangible heritage », entangled in the project-management matrix ?

With this paper I will provide an ethnography of conceiving, writing and reformulating complex proposals for funding, namely for the EU-ACP Support Programme to ACP Cultural Industries and UNESCO, with Espace Tiné, an association from Brazzaville working in the field of collecting and transforming oral performances in Congo. Drawing from semiotic analysis and actor-network theory (Latour 2005), I will investigate the tensions between the policies defining intangible heritage as a force for sustainable development, the project-management methodology required by the donor agencies, and the « intangibility » of the practices in question.

Panel Heri004
From folklore to intangible heritage