Intangible Cultural Heritage Safeguarding and Marketisation

This special issue is the outcome of an international workshop on “Intangible Cultural Heritage: Reconceptualisation, Uses, Marketisation” held on May 8 and 9, 2019 in Hangzhou, China. It is a joint cooperation between between the “UNESCO Friction” project and the Institute of Anthropology of Zhejiang University. Scholars from different disciplines and geographical regions explore questions related to the challenge of using intangible cultural heritage as a market resource.

Short summery (Chinese):

2003年《保护非物质文化遗产公约》颁布实施后,各缔约国基于各自的国情和文化立场,践行各种形式的保护行动。当国际标准遇到各个国家各自的遗产制度时,经常出现被挪用,重新解释,甚至被改变的情形。非物质文化遗产的商业化和经济考虑是一个经常被讨论的问题。本期专刊立足于《非遗公约》在全球和地方的具体实践,从跨国界、跨学科和跨文化的视角,通过个案研究的实证方式,从概念诠释、专属权、国家政策、司法实践和代表性传承人的商业实践等视角,审视和检讨非遗商业化的现象、过程、特征及其社会后果。本期专刊五篇文章选自2019年5月在中国杭州召开的由浙江大学人类学研究所与法国巴黎高等社会科学学院(EHESS)的“联合国教科文组织Friction”项目合作举办的“非物质文化遗产:再概念化、利用与市场化”的参会论文。专刊论文不在于寻求非遗商业化的价值判断,而是希望因此引起批判和反思非遗商业化过程中,隐匿在不同行动者之间的认知差异和实践背后的社会机制和行动逻辑,以推进非遗保护的可持续性发展。(刘朝晖 Philipp Demgenski)




As a result of the debates held during an international workshop that took place on March 9th and 10th 2020 in São Paulo, Brazil, the special issue “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development” explores the present challenges associated with these themes, bringing together the contribution of public policy managers, researchers, experts and professionals in cultural heritage.

The special issue is an initiative of the “UNESCO frictions: making heritage across global governance” project, based at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris, which was embraced by SESC Center for Research and Training Journal and had the support of the National Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage (IPHAN), Ministry of Tourism.

Commercialization without over-commercialization : normative conundrums across heritage rationalities

Chiara Bortolotto, 2020. Commercialization without over-commercialization : normative conundrums across heritage rationalitiesInternational Journal of Heritage Studies 


In aligning its priorities around the Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO officially acknowledges the need to reconcile the market and heritage. Yet inscriptions of commercial practices on the Intangible Cultural Heritage lists are qualified as ‘traumatic’ by actors that design normative principles for ‘good’ heritage governance. Based on ethnographic observations of the meetings of the governing bodies of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, I analyse the controversies generated by the ‘risks of over-commercialization’, shedding light on the disputed entanglements between ICH and the market. In exploring the notion of ‘commercialization without over-commercialization’ meant to resolve the tension between heritage and the market, I highlight how ‘over-commercialization’ refers to notions of ‘misappropriation’ and ‘decontextualization’ and the ways it, therefore, intersects with the logics of Intellectual Property. This allows to elucidate a constitutive ambiguity in the implementation of the Convention, torn between the rationalities of heritage and property regimes.


(Re)inventing intangible cultural heritage through the market in Greece


Culinary Tensions: Chinese Cuisine’s Rocky Road toward International Intangible Cultural Heritage Status

Demgenski, Philipp. 2020. “Culinary Tensions: Chinese Cuisine’s Rocky Road toward International Intangible Cultural Heritage Status.Asian Ethnology 79 (1): 115–35.


This article focuses on the so-far unsuccessful attempts to inscribe elements of Chinese cuisine on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Food designated as heritage has sparked a heated debate among academics and heritage experts, while being embraced by state parties. In China, food-related ICH nomination initiatives have come mainly from private businesses, local governments, and the China Cuisine Association. Only recently have national-level ICH experts taken several initiatives to make Chinese culinary ICH fit the ideas of the Convention, thus making it a potential candidate for a submission to UNESCO. This article discusses different actors’ ideas about food and heritage, how they conceive of culinary ICH, and for what purposes they are pursuing it. The story of Chinese food-related ICH is one of commercialization and the mushrooming cultural industry, but it is also very much a story about different understandings of the concept of ICH and provides insights into how a global concept gets localized in China and is appropriated by different governmental and non-governmental actors, to then be realigned and adapted again to fit the criteria for international inscription.