(P063)
Heritage, beyond materiality: intangible cultural heritage, collaborative methodologies and imaginations of the future
Location SOAS Senate House - S311
Date and Start Time 02 Jun, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Raluca Roman (University of St Andrews) email
  • Panas Karampampas (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) email

Mail All Convenors

Short abstract

This panel discusses the ways in which Intangible Cultural Heritage is defined, shaped and recognised by communities, researchers and policy-makers and the collaborations and creative (or not) frictions between them at local, national and international levels.

Long abstract

This panel explores the relationship between Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), collaborative methodologies and local identity construction. The analytical drive of this panel is that of looking at ideas of heritage not only through museum representation but through the practices themselves: the ways in which the 'immaterial' itself is constitutive of local and international representations of identity and belonging. Therefore, a central focus point is the shaping and understanding of ICH on a local level: the ways in which ICHs are defined, shaped and recognised by communities, local and interventional.

A second aim of the panel is to better understand the collaborative relationships embedded within ICH knowledge-making in connection with the collaborative (and, at times, conflictual) relationships between the former and the practices of defining them as ICH.

We therefore invite papers that engage critically with the ways in which ICHs are defined, shaped and reshaped locally, as well as with the political implications of these processes. Some questions to be explore can be: What are the consequences of economic and other forms of 'crisis' regarding ICH? How do members of local communities themselves shape the discourse surrounding practices and knowledge deemed as ICH as well as the forms of participation in ICH policy-making? Finally, can ICH be a platform through which a broader, global connection is established between communities sharing similar practices?

We welcome both theoretical and ethnographic studies of ICH, with a particular focus placed on collaboration between local communities, researchers and policy-makers.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

The role of the UNESCO declaration in developing an ethno-nationalism in the Andes

Author: Jonathan Alderman (St Andrews) email

Short abstract

This paper examines the role of UNESCO, through ICH, in projects of ethnonationalism. It focusses on the 2003 0UNESCO declaration of Kallawaya culture as Oral Heritage of Humanity, and the ethnonationalist project that followed, alongside the redefinition of Bolivia as a plurinational state.

Long abstract

This paper will examine the role of ICH in the development of ethnonationalism. In 2003, UNESCO declared 'The Andean Cosmovision of Kallawaya Culture" as Oral Heritage of Humanity. The Kallawayas are a collection of indigenous Andean Bolivian communities best known for exercising their profession as healers. Exercising their profession as healers was illegal in Bolivia until 1987, and the Kallawayas were often regarded either as charlatans or wizards and witches (because their healing frequently involves making offerings to the local mountain gods). The postulation to UNESCO to recognise the value of Kallawaya culture was part of a concerted effort made by Kallawaya authorities over several decades to rehabilitate the reputation of the Kallawayas. From 2006, in the lead up to the writing of Bolivia's most recent constitution, which redefined Bolivia as a plurinational state, the Kallawayas have been identifying as a nation. The declaration by UNESCO is seen by many Kallawayas as significant in the construction of an ethnonational consciousness, because by giving the Kallawayas a platform to revindicate their cultural practices, it not only assisted a blossoming Kallawaya self-confidence, but became a weapon in a struggle to decolonise local social relations. The candidature was part of a deliberate effort to manage the image of the Kallawayas, and to change the discourse regarding what it means to be Kallawaya. However, it can also be seen as creating an orthodoxy of Kallawaya practices and freezing Kallawaya culture.

Intangible Heritage and International Development Networks: Actors, Agency and Representation around Intangible Heritage for Development.

Author: Stefania Cardinale (London Metropolitan University) email

Short abstract

Through a case study presentation, the paper discusses the ways in which the practice of intangible cultural heritage safeguarding interlinks with development aims and creates larger and complex collaborative networks impacting the nature, actors and community of the intangible heritage.

Long abstract

The practice of safeguarding intangible heritage calls for researchers to look beyond scalar dichotomies of global-local, materiality and intangibility and to reach for a more fluid and fibrous interpretation of intangible cultural heritage networks. It is certainly not only a matter of defining the boundaries of the heritage community, as a departing point. It is much more important to focus on what kind of relations are established to highlight the nature and agency of these connections over the cultural element. To this end, the paper presents an ethnography of intangible heritage practice that interlinks with 'project of development' practice, focusing on a project implemented in West Bengal (2009-2011) and linked to the heritage of Purulia chhau dance. It discusses the extent to which key aspects of the network (power relations, actors' interests, project's ideas, etc.) enact the heritage of chhau into an alternative livelihood, positioning the heritage in the practice of culture for development. Through understanding how various actors make sense of their role under the project investigated we can shed light on the processes of negotiation that actors use in attempts to control the ordering of the intangible heritage as a livelihood for development. The paper suggests the heritage of chhau is also an effect of the project and that with regard to safeguarding practice and participation, there is limited scope for self-determination given to artists, when they are inscribed into an action as 'beneficiaries' and subjected to the 'project of management' structure, typical of international development action.

The Process of Preservation and Re-construction of Musical Heritage in Contemporary Cambodia

Author: Francesca Billeri (SOAS) email

Short abstract

This talk aims to show the ways in which the Cambodian intangible cultural heritage, with a focus on traditional music and theatre genres, is shaped, promoted and restored by local NGOs and performers from different ages and backgrounds in an effort to re-construct the Khmer cultural identity.

Long abstract

The on-going process of preservation and revival of traditional performing arts in Cambodia leads to a phenomenon of canonization of music; this heritage building process can be defined as the use of music as a trait of cultural identity in order to characterize local communities within a larger nation and, at the same time to foster economic process of which local communities may benefit. It is a controversial trend that implies nationalistic views and the freezing of cultural process with the aim of keeping repertoires and practices that are gradually disappearing with a different function. Connected to this issue is the term of heritage including the controversial action of UNESCO with its Intangible Cultural Heritage. Despite the community and non-government sector efforts to restore and protect traditional performing arts, many traditional musical genres are endangered. It is estimated that 90% of the Khmer artist were killed during the Khmer Rouge regime and those alive are few in number. In addition to the limited knowledge for traditional arts, the rapid process of social and technological change, urbanisation and modernisation draw the cultural crisis of Khmer arts sector. UNESCO attributes the endangerment and disappearance of intangible cultural expressions to "long-lasting conflicts, the declining number of performers and the clear tendency among the younger generation to cultural influences from outside the country". This talk aims to show the ways in which the intangible cultural heritage is shaped and restored by local NGOs and performers in an effort to re-construct the Khmer cultural identity.

'We don't need any safeguarding. We're already doing this': Grassroots and State safeguarding "Intangible Cultural Heritage" practices and plans for Greek Aeróphona (bagpipes)

Authors: Panas Karampampas (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) email
Panayiota Andrianopoulou email

Short abstract

This paper examines and compares the safeguarding practices of the actors engage with the safeguarding of a type of bagpipes in Greece and the creative frictions in the heritagisation process of the bagpipes.

Long abstract

The UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) requires from countries that have ratified the convention to plan and support the safeguarding of elements, which the state has recognised as ICH. In parallel to this scheme, safeguarding practices are done by individuals and groups, which in some cases are not informed or deliberately ignore the Convention. This is the case of Greek Aeróphona that revitalises the practice of Greek bagpipes. Central to this is the use of social media by Greek Aeróphona in organising their activities and disseminating and embodying their craft. However, the Greek State is currently starting the process of engaging Aeróphona musicians and crafters to discuss and create a safeguarding plan, aiming to inscribe Greek Aeróphona on the National ICH list. A part of bagpipers and crafters are against this for various reasons while others are not informed about the intention of the State. We examine and compare the safeguarding practices of the actors engage with this ICH elements as well as the creative frictions between them.

Art Interventions in the Service of (In)Tangible Heritage - The Case of Kufr Birʽim Community

Authors: Irit Carmon Popper (Technion - Institute of Technology Israel ) email
Alona Nitzan-Shiftan email

Short abstract

Located in a national park in Israel, the remains of Kufr Birʽim village fall into ruin. Regularly yet temporarily, its Palestinian community performs participatory art interventions on site that counteract official preservation models by referring to tangible and intangible community heritage.

Long abstract

Bar'am is a national park in northern Israel that contains the remains of an ancient synagogue and the ruins of a Palestinian village. While the synagogue is preserved as a symbol of Jewish roots in antiquity, the houses of the village Kufr Birʽim, depopulated in 1948, are neglected and crumbling. This official discriminatory policy has led the village's former inhabitants to initiate independent activities to preserve its cultural heritage. The paper examines their artistic practices focusing on a series of participatory art interventions performed on site by a member of the displaced community, artist and architect Hanna Farah-Kufr Birʽim.

The artist's temporary interventions apply a dry connections technique so as not to interfere with the structural integrity of the ruins. He uses components that constitute an ephemeral alternative to lost architectural elements, such as cloth windows, a woven ceiling or a floor reorganized using kitchen materials. These are symbolically linked to daily culture, thereby enlivening the village's ICH and at the same time embodying its tangible historical presence by filling in the architectural blanks. In their necessarily temporary presence as "park visitors" in their own home, the participants themselves contribute an additional layer of meaning to the symbolic preservation act.

The paper proposes to critically engage with the ways in which ICHs are redefined and reshaped locally and with regard to policy-making. It draws on the intellectual climate the discipline of preservation shares with art, calling for the incorporation of values related to locality and community-based collaborations in the latter.

Collaboration and preservation of intangible heritage: The case of Haining Shadow Play, China

Authors: Mengting Fei (Zhejiang University) email
Yi Fu (Zhejiang University) email

Short abstract

This paper discusses how multiple communities collaborate to construct the Haining Shadow Play as intangible heritage. It argues the audiences take the significant role in preserving Haining Shadow Play. They not only affect the presentation of shadow play but also the policy-making of governments.

Long abstract

Haining Shadow Play has transformed from theatre drama, religious ritual, propaganda performance to UNESCO intangible heritage since the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). As a cultural symbol of Haining, Haining Shadow Play mirrors the local history and constructs the local identities of Haining in Zhejiang, China. Preserving and transmitting Haining Shadow Play in contemporary Haining has become a collective cultural practice or process (Smith, 2006), which reflects the collaborative efforts of multiple communities including policy-makers of governments, heritage experts, shadow play artists, local community and other stakeholders. Based on the fieldwork combined with multiple research methods including direct observation, semi-structured interviews and documentary, this paper explores how multiple communities collaborate with each other to preserve and transmit Haining shadow play. The paper argues the audiences of Haining shadow play, both local residents and tourists, take the significant roles in the process of constructing Haining shadow play as intangible heritage. They not only affect the presentation of shadow play artists, but also affect the policy-making of governments. Thus, this paper also highlights the approach of community participation and tourism bring positive effects to the contemporary practice of intangible heritage.

The Lost City: How do we learn from spaces and places that no longer exist? an exploration of London's genius loci and sites of emotional heritage

Author: Jenny Wedgbury (UCL, Institute of Education) email

Short abstract

I'm interested in stripping back the notion of heritage sites being vessels of emotion by looking at heritage places that no longer exist. If no stones, brickwork remain, how can we learn of a site's past? Do places where events have taken place retain some kind of embedded emotional experience?

Long abstract

In this paper I'd like to critically explore the ways in which we describe heritage sites as 'holding' or 'containing' a spirit of place or genius loci. I want to explore and examine the way we talk about spaces and places being receptacles for past emotions, where past actions have seeped into the very stonework of a building or public space, into the grass, mud, pavement.

I want to examine the way in which we talk about places holding echoes of fear, love, power, greed, pain etc. Is this just a narrative hook we use to engage audiences or is there something more in terms of seeing emotional heritage as akin to other types of intangible heritage? Can the vestiges of past emotional experience be read in a way in which we can group them together as part of our shared intangible heritage?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.