What did Confucius eat? China’s struggle with culinary heritage

By Philipp Demgenski

Paper to be presented at the American Folklore Society 2017 Annual Conference in Minneapolis, USA, October 18-21, 2017.

Panel: Traditions in Transition: Intangible Cultural Heritage in Asia

Abstract:

In this paper, I focus on the example of Confucian Family Cuisine (kongfu cai), which was selected as a potential nomination for the UNESCO ICH list, but which also remains strikingly unknown to the general Chinese public. The case reflects a struggle at national and local level, among and within different heritage bodies to get the UNESCO label attached to elements of Chinese cuisine. My paper illustrates some of the frictions that exist at the nodes where a global (food) heritage regime intersects with national and local heritage policies and discourses and also reflects upon some general problems pertaining to the meaning and purpose of food as ICH.

 

 

 

ICH and development: a controversial relationship

Paper presented at the International Academy on UNESCO Designations and Sustainable Development, UN Campus, Turin, 8-13 October 2017.

The Academy consists in a mix of lectures, working sessions, seminars and debates, together with visits and meetings with relevant stakeholders. Local case studies have been selected considering their specifi
c relevance and their capacity to show good practices in relation to the role of cultural and natural resources towards the attainment UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

CfP: Heritage, beyond materiality: intangible cultural heritage, collaborative methodologies and imaginations of the future

We would like to invite you to submit your paper proposals to the panel ‘Heritage, beyond materiality: intangible cultural heritage, collaborative methodologies and imaginations of the future ‘(P063). The panel is part of the Royal Anthropological Institute
(RAI)’s conference, The Art, Materiality and Representation, which will take place between the 1st and the 3rd of June 2018 at the British Museum, Clore Centre and SOAS, Senate
House.

The 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. Below you can find a more detailed overview of the panel and its scope.

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.

*The Call for Papers is now open. It closes on 8 January 2018.*

All proposals must be sent via the online form that can be found on the
panel page: http://nomadit.co.uk/rai/events/rai2018/conferencesuite.php/panels/6120

Proposals should consist of a paper title, a (very) short abstract of 300
characters and an abstract of 250 words. On submission the proposal, the
proposing author will receive automated email confirming receipt. If you do
not receive this email, please first check the login environment (click
login on the left on the conference website) to see if your proposal is
there. If it is, it simply means confirmation got spammed or lost; and if
it is not, it means you need re-submit, as process went wrong somewhere.

Proposals will be marked as pending until the end of the Call for papers.
Decisions on the papers proposed will be communicated by 20 January 2018.
If you have any questions about the panel or the submission process, please do not hesitate to contact one of the panel convenors below

Many thanks,
The convenors

Raluca Roman (University of St Andrews), rr44@st-andrews.ac.uk

Panas Karampampas (EHESS), p.karampampas@ehess.fr

When research impacts governance unintentionally

By Simone Toji

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In being simultaneously an official responsible for the national intangible cultural heritage policy in São Paulo/ Brazil and a researcher of the UNESCO frictions project, some activities I get involved may gain unexpected developments.

Because one of the main questions in the project refers to the problem of scales, I began by observing the intangible cultural heritage policies at the municipal and state level in São Paulo.

In Brazil, cities and states are autonomous bodies that together with the federal government compose the Federative Republic of Brazil. In this way, cities and states have their own executive, legislative and legal branches, which are concurrent to and, to a certain extent, independent from the federal government.

In the case of the intangible cultural heritage, cities and states in Brazil are creating their own intangible cultural heritage initiatives.

Historically, the Brazilian federal government, through its Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN), was the first to establish an intangible cultural heritage policy with national scope in 2000. Since then, numerous cities and states in Brazil have been tailoring their own local and regional policies.

The city of São Paulo and the state of São Paulo are examples of this tendency. Both of them approved legislation towards intangible cultural heritage in 2007 and 2011 respectively.

In order to understand how intangible cultural heritage policies were being developed at the state and municipal levels, I requested access to materials and files at the organisations appointed to implement the mentioned policies. The Departamento do Patrimônio Histórico (DPH) works on the municipal level, while the Unidade de Preservação  do Patrimônio Histórico (UPPH), on the state one.

My visits to learn from the documents of these two organisations raised the interest from DPH’s and UPPH’s directors and officials for establishing a partnership with IPHAN, as I am an IPHAN’s civil servant too. Staff from both organisations believes that IPHAN has a more consolidated intangible cultural heritage policy and assume that they can gain expertise from IPHAN’s experience.

For IPHAN, this can be an opportunity to discuss cultural heritage policies as a system of collaboration and possible distribution of responsibilities in the field of intangible cultural heritage governance.

The convergence of all these interests led to the installation of a work group on intangible cultural heritage in São Paulo on the 3rd of August 2017 under an agreement between IPHAN, DPH and UPPH, comprising officials from the three organisations.

This repercussion provides some food for thought. An UNESCO frictions project’s research activity – gathering documentation – resulted in the administrative decision of establishing collaboration between the three governmental organisations responsible for intangible cultural heritage policies at different levels in the national governance scale. As I am one of the appointed officials to participate in the work group as IPHAN representative, being at the same time a researcher in the UNESCO frictions project as well, some questions emerge:

  • Can my research abilities contribute to provide good and feasible proposals for the work group?
  • Can the experiences at the work group offer opportunities to observe phenomena on the topic of scales that otherwise would not be available?
  • At what points are the positions of official and researcher convergent or divergent?
  • Can my colleagues in the work group become research partners?

These will be some interrogations to be faced from now on by me and the work group.

 

Fossilisation, Commercialisation or Participation? Exhibiting Intangible Cultural Heritage in China

By Philipp Demgenski

Paper presented at the “Museum Collection, Exhibition and Interpretation: in Anthropological Perspective” Museum Anthropology Conference organised the Chinese National Museum of Ethnology, held in Beijing, China, August 1-2, 2017.

Abstract:

The 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has opened up a discursive space and provided a distinct value framework to state parties, enabling them to conceive, define and appraise their Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). The Convention can thus not merely be seen as a neutral tool to identify and safeguard existing cultural practices and traditions, it has to also be regarded as an active agent in (re)shaping and (re)making “culture” under the label of ICH. In China, for instance, ICH or what is locally known as feiyi (非遗) introduced a new category, a new value system, under which different stakeholders (government, scholars and bearers alike) have been able to operate and get a grip on what was previously indistinctly labelled as “folk culture” (民间文化) or “folk ways” (民俗). It is for this reason that the question of how to exhibit ICH can only be addressed with reference to and within the specific context of the Convention. Based on currently ongoing ethnographic research on the implementation of the Convention in China, in this paper, I discuss different forms and contexts in which ICH is being exhibited and displayed in China. I provide examples from so-called ICH Exposition Parks (非物质文化遗产博览园), Cultural Theme Parks, Ecological and other Museums. I show that the majority of these ways of exhibiting ICH either lead to the fossilisation or to the commercialisation of a given ICH element or to both. I also show that the participation, as defined by the Convention, of the heritage bearers is often only minimal. In this regard, ICH as it manifests itself through exhibitions and displays in China diverts from the spirit of the Convention that particularly emphasises the widest possible participation of ICH communities, groups or individuals in the maintenance, transmission and management of heritage. However, viewed from a different perspective, in the context of China’s larger development and modernisation programme, ICH exhibitions actually offer heritage bearers an opportunity to actively participate in and benefit from national economic development.