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Accepted Paper:

‘Inappropriate vocabulary’: practices of patterning the discourse on Intangible Cultural Heritage  

Author:

Anita Vaivade (Latvian Academy of Culture)

Paper short abstract:

The paper questions how the rules for the inventorying of ICH are put into administrative practice, what are the implications of expert status in co-producing knowledge on ICH and what practices of patterning the discourse on ICH, such as accumulating ‘inappropriate vocabulary’, can be observed.

Paper long abstract:

Since several years, a corpus of ‘inappropriate vocabulary’ has been accumulating in the decisions taken at UNESCO on nominations to the international lists of intangible cultural heritage (ICH). It encompasses inter alia terms relating to authenticity, uniqueness, ownership and origin. This far it has not reached ‘folklore’ although concerns on the varieties of its meaning and connotations have been raised. These practices of patterning the discourse on ICH at international level are grounded on the concerns to be consistent with the principles of the UNESCO 2003 Convention. Such and other considerations in patterning the discourse can be observed also at national level in the way ICH inventories are being established and gradually expanded.

The role of researchers is prominent in some decision-making structures, while more observant in others – in drafting nominations, evaluating them, participating in fine-tuning narratives etc. This invites to ask what the level of inclusiveness in such inventories is, and what are the dynamics and implications of expert status in co-producing knowledge on ICH. The paper will be based on the postdoctoral research project ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage as Resource for Sustainable Development in Northern Europe: Rights-Based Approach’ (No.: 1.1.1.2/VIAA/3/19/476) and will reflect in particular the experiences of ICH inventory-making and respective expertise practices in Latvia, Finland, Norway and Sweden, questioning how the domestic rules for the inventorying of ICH are put into administrative practice of patterning.

Panel Heri08a
ICH on the ground: the fine art of rules and measures I