UNESCO and poetics of global heritage regime: from safeguarding measures to creative destruction of cultural heritage
Mustafa Coskun (University of Tübingen)
Paper short abstract:
This paper focuses on international cultural heritage policies and practices with a view to exploring the legacy of authorizing heritage institutions, namely, UNESCO, and the role its Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) program plays in the global cultural processes.
Paper long abstract:
This paper focuses on international cultural heritage policies and practices with a view to exploring the legacy of authorizing heritage institutions, namely, UNESCO, and the role its Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) program plays in the global cultural processes. As proclaimed in the 2003 UNESCO Convention text, a representative list of ICH of humanity was created to ensure healthy maintenance and cultural transmission of humanity's creative diversity. By doing so, the program aims to tame the far-reaching impacts of globalization by introducing safeguarding measures which are deemed crucial as distinct cultural "practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills" across the globe face the threat of deterioration and cultural loss stipulated by processes of globalization. The paper seeks to problematize the safeguarding mentality and preservation program put forward for the UNESCO policies of ICH to argue that such politics of global cultural management could facilitate the very "harmful" processes of globalization that UNESCO initially sets out to thwart. As such, the paper will inquire the discordance between the aims and outcomes of such global cultural management agenda, and will ask whether such programs paradoxically enable the very processes of globalization to penetrate into the most peripheral locations where the impacts of globalization would otherwise have the least foothold, rendering globalization culture-friendly. It will provocatively conclude, asking whether such global programs could be producing a global norm and predetermining the course global cultural flows take, leading possibly to their creative destruction, rather than allowing creative accommodation of cultural change.