Accepted Paper:

Saviours or traitors? The ambivalent position of ethnomusicologists in implementing UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH in Serbia  


Danka Lajić Mihajlović (Institute of Musicology SASA, Belgrade)

Paper short abstract:

Based on my personal experiences of implementing UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH in Serbia, the presentation will focus on ethical and professional dilemmas regarding this kind of participation in cultural policy.

Paper long abstract:

On a general level, the experience of Serbia in the implementation of UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH is marked by its position of a candidate for EU membership and the influences of local multiparty policies in the field of culture, and, consequently, by unarticulated roles of experts, including academically trained ethnographers. In the beginning, ethnomusicologists were not recognized as relevant experts for the heritage safeguarding and they were not included into the processes of education and institutionalisation at the national level. This kind of marginalisation led to the problems already at the level of inventorying music and dance heritage. However, the most delicate problems have been those on the relation between the local communities and the experts, so they will be in the focus of the presentation.

A personal experience of invetorying the epic singing with the gusle accompaniment as an element of ICH, in particular regarding the relationship with fieldwork collaborators, has been the source of many dilemmas, both ethical and professional, which led to much self-reflection on the purpose of this type of professional engagement.

Having in mind the actuality of ICH safeguarding, a reflection on both the influence of applied ethnomusicology and ICTM activism on ethnomusicologists' and ethnochoreologists' dedication to the Convention implementation, as well as the related influences of these experiences on researchers' profiles, my aim is emphasise the responsibility of scholarly organisations in the humanities, taking into account the market value of this type of knowledge, and a general social position of a researcher working in this field.

Panel Heri009
The program of intangible cultural heritage, a market niche for ethnographers or a symptom of their infirmity in the early 21st century?