Association of Critical Heritage Studies, Hangzhou, China, 1-6 September 2018


UNESCO frictions: the social lives of international heritage norms

UNESCO heritage policies are often associated with the spectre of cultural globalisation grounded on what Michael Herzfeld calls a  “global hierarchy of values”. Indeed, anthropological research on the social impact of the inscription on UNESCO World Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage lists provides evidence of the “UNESCOisation” (Berliner 2012) of local ways of representing culture and conceiving cultural transmission and emphasizes the top-down influence of “good” governance international principles on local logics and priorities.

At the same time, a close analysis of the institutional mechanisms and procedures underpinning the whole chainof the implementation of UNESCO heritage conventions sheds light on the agency of particular human and nonhuman actors involved in this process across the different scales of UNESCO-driven heritage governance : laws, institutions, policies, civil servants, local authorities, heritage experts, civil society, heritage “bearers”.

This session explores this agency, showing how international norms come to life through their national and local interpretations, uses and adaptations to different political, institutional, economic and socio-cultural situations.This session aims at exploring the different lives of international heritage norms focusing on the original outcome of the encounter between their universal aspirations and the diversity of the interpretations given to them, that is to say the “creative friction” (Tsing 2005) whichmakes these lives possible. We are interested in analyses that unpack the global/local dialectic looking in particular at the complex process of legislative, institutional, social and cultural translationsthat simultaneously globalize and localize international policies. How does the travel of an international standard change its meaning? How does an international norm engage and compromise with existing heritage regimes? What does the complexity of these practical interconnections tell us about the universal ambitions of global heritage governance?

Introduction (Chiara Bortolotto École des Hautes Études enSciences Sociales) 

ICH Backstage: Navigating the Heritage Bureaucracy in China (Philipp Demgenski École des Hautes Études enSciences Sociales)

Mobilizing for ICH safeguarding: The political and social  indigenization of UNESCO norms in China (Christina Maags SOAS, University of London)

When the connections are not obvious: diverted meanings in heritage-making between the global, the national and the local in Brazil (Simone Toji Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN) École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS))

Following the 2003 Convention social life in the Portuguese panorama ( Ana Carvalho, University of Évora, Portugal)

Intangible Heritage (Contra)Versions: From ‘Folklore’ into Best Safeguarding Practices (Pedro Antunes ISCTE-IUL; FCSH-UN

Space F(r)ictions. The Politics of Scale and the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage List (Bernard Debarbiex & Hervé Munz, University of Geneva)

The Flight of the Condor: A Letter, a Song, and a Couple of Lessons on Intangible Cultural Heritage (Valdimar Tr. Hafstein University of Iceland)

Negotiating methods and navigating positions: between expertise and research on UNESCO heritage policies

Kristin Kuutma and Chiara Bortolotto

This paper presents a first reflexive analysis of collaboration with our research partners within the UNESCO apparatus as a methodological approach to study International Organisations. By investigating UNESCO from within, we contemplate a world organisation as a field and elaborate on the method and accountability of anthropological approach. The discipline of social anthropology holds the study of organisations at the heart and has a long record of exploring organisations as sites where systems of meaning are produced and circulated. Our analysis is based on long lasting fieldwork and observant collaboration to explore policy-making and governance related to the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). For us, the field has been a site for collecting data as well as a space that embodies strategic intervention in organisational activities, which allowed us to investigate procedural and arbitrational mechanisms or negotiations in order to unravel the entanglement of relationships at play and to recognize also subjective factors in the process. The international policy setting scene of the Intergovernmental Committee meetings to the Convention and its subsequent ad hoc consultative or subsidiary bodies becomes extended to organisational formats and policy-setting activities for implementing the Convention. By drawing on our outsider inquisitive perspective and insider collaborative approach, we propose to unravel different aspects and diverse experience in collaborating with the UN staff. We pose questions about positionality and the process of reflexive knowledge production.

 

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)

Panas Karampampas and Panayiota Andrianopoulou, RAI2018: Art, Materiality and Representation Conference, Royal Anthropological Institute, The Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas of The British Museum and the Department of Anthropology at SOAS, London, UK 1-3 June 2018.

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.

Musique et patrimoine immatériel : le cas du “samba de roda” de Bahia

Conférence de Carlos Sandroni, « Midis de Brésil(s) ». Séminaire mensuel pour le débat brésilianiste coordonné par Amanda Dias, Camila Georgetti et Mônica Raisa Schpun

En 2004, le ministère de la Culture brésilien a décidé de soumettre à l’Unesco la « samba de roda » de la région du Recôncavo, dans l’État de Bahia, dans le but de l’inscrire sur la troisième Déclaration des œuvres du patrimoine immatériel de l’humanité. À cette fin, il a été nécessaire d’élaborer un dossier de candidature avec des informations, des photos, des vidéos et des enregistrements. Un ethnomusicologue a été recruté pour diriger la réalisation de ce dossier. Au cours de ce processus, d’innombrables questions ont émergé concernant la samba et la représentation des cultures subalternes, sur l’identité nationale, les politiques publiques liées au patrimoine culturel, et l’idée d’une ethnomusicologie « engagée ». La candidature brésilienne a été acceptée par l’Unesco à la fin de l’année 2005. Depuis lors, les débats autour de ces questions reste vivant et prend de nouvelles dimensions.

Lundi 28 mai 2018, de 12h à 14h
salle B204, EHESS

54 bd Raspail, Paris 6e

 

Culinary Frictions: Chinese Cuisine and the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Regime

Philipp Demgenski, paper presented at the Sun Yat-sen University Second International Conference on Food and Culture, Guangzhou, China. April 20-22, 2018.

Abstract:

This paper focuses on the so far unsuccessful attempts to inscribe elements of Chinese cuisine on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). Food designated as heritage remains a controversial topic. It has sparked a heated debate among academics and heritage experts, while being embraced by state parties. Despite UNESCO’s ongoing reluctance to consider food-related nominations, many countries have managed to inscribe their cuisines or culinary items on the list (e.g. the French Gastronomic Meal, the Mediterranean diet, Kimchi, Washoku or Naples’ Pizza twirling). In China, a country proud of its culinary tradition and diversity, the question of how to prepare a successful cuisine-related bid has also prominently featured in public discourse. However, the Chinese government, in the form of the Ministry of Culture and its subordinate ICH Department, has not yet chosen to participate in the global race for culinary ICH status. This makes it different from other already successfully inscribed food elements that were mainly top-down state-driven projects. Nevertheless, there are many ICH food nomination initiatives in China coming from private businesses, local governments and the China Cuisine Association (CCA), a commercial association for the Chinese food and catering industry, that try to find ways to indirectly make use of the ICH label and thus capitalize on some of the fame that comes with UNESCO inscription. In this paper, I discuss different actors’ ideas about food and heritage, how they conceive of culinary ICH and for what purposes they are pursuing it. I specifically present ethnographic data on the case of Confucian Family Cuisine (kongfucai), a cuisine that remains strikingly unknown to the general public, but was announced as a potential nomination for the UNESCO Representative list in 2015. It turned out to be an initiative mainly by private actors in Confucius’ birthplace Qufu who wanted to use the UNESCO label for promotion and branding purposes. The way in which actors behind the bid conceived and thought of ICH diverts from the idea of ICH as put forward by UNESCO in that the emphasis rested upon culinary standards, long traditions, techniques and skills and in that the pursuit of the ICH label was mainly for commercial reasons. This paper discusses some of the frictions that exist at the nodes where a global (food) heritage regime intersects with national and local heritage discourses and more fundamentally, also wishes to raise some questions pertaining to the ambiguous stance of UNESCO and the ICH regime towards commercialization and economic development.