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Paper short abstract:
The paper provides an autoethnographic perspective on possibilities offered by an academic project aimed for safeguarding of the local weaving tradition of the Hancavičy district (Belarus) as an element of intangible cultural heritage within the framework set by the UNESCO 2003 Convention.
Paper long abstract:
Since its adoption in 2003 the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has been continuously changing the framework of dealing with living cultural practices. Reaching far beyond the cultural domain safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) among other includes education with universities being one of the important actors actively facilitating not only learning about ICH itself but also training of those involved in its safeguarding and management. As part of the Master’s project in “Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies” at the University of Tartu I explored the possibility of practical application of new heritage policies on the example of nomination of the local weaving tradition of the Hancavičy district (Belarus) on the national ICH Inventory.
Considering my role as both a participant and an observer in academic setting I utilise the autoethnographic perspective to reflect on the project’s design and outcomes. I particularly focus on multidimensional relations between me as a researcher and the community of practice with its different stakeholders who play a leading role in the safeguarding of the ICH. In addition, I examine how broader Belarusian context with its top-down state system of ICH management and ongoing confrontation between the regime and civil society affected various aspects of the project and contributed to its (un)achieved results. Looking at the multifaceted nature of the project from different perspectives opens up a possibility to revalue whether it had a chance to become a true community initiative or rather an outside intervention.
Autoethnography as an (uncertain) methodological experiment: suturing personal and collective experiences
Session 2 Friday 9 June, 2023, -