Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) has become a recognized concept, which prompts agendas worldwide. It considers cultural heritage a living process in which communities, groups and individuals – rather than the heritage experts – are supposed to recognize ICH and work towards its safeguarding and management. The UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage is a key international reference in the implementation of ICH policies, ratified by more than 170 State Parties. Heritage actors in different countries are often struggling to reconcile already existing heritage frameworks with the principles of the ICH Convention, which frequently results in the global standard being subject to transformation and reconceptualization in its implementation process. This workshop aims at exploring the tensions and challenges entailed by the association between ICH and sustainable development, a principle present in the Convention and emphasised in its Operational Guidelines. Ideas of “change” are crucial in the articulation between heritage and development. In the heritage field, change is a sensitive issue when referring to notions of authenticity and exceptionality. ICH imparts however a new twist to this articulation: change is an inherent part of safeguarding ICH. Since ICH is considered to be evolving and transforming, heritage actors face difficult decisions, because not all forms of transformations are deemed proper and desirable. Here, notions of sustainability enter the context in order to indicate parameters for defining what appropriate or inappropriate changes are. However, what does it exactly mean to change in sustainable ways? Whose perspective can inform what is sustainable and what is not? How is sustainability framed by different actors? Can sustainability be attained or is it a goal to keep inspiring efforts for the future? Vis-à-vis narratives that regard ICH and its associated principles of community participation and sustainable development as being “good practices”, or accounts that think of ICH as a new form of neoliberal governmentality, the workshop intends to approach sustainable development as an operational component in processes of change in empirical situations involving ICH. In paying attention to the ways in which ICH and ideas of sustainability are manifested, undesirable scenarios and longed-for futures are disclosed. Sometimes, systems of values are challenged and new ones proposed. One of the significant aspects in these processes of change with competing visions is the economic dimension, in which questions of transformation and policy implementation overlap and are entangled in modes that create challenges and contradictions within the heritage field. In Brazil, ICH, economics and notions related to sustainable development are activated, for example: to reinforce the intellectual property rights of indigenous groups; to let small producers contest large-scale production standards; to allow traditional groups reduce the competition from non-traditional actors in certain commercial niches; to allow traditional groups enter the market in equitable conditions; to support processes of land claim or management of certain natural resources by traditional groups; to identify reparation measures in development projects for traditional and ethnic groups during processes of environmental licensing or after environmental disasters. Based on these questions raised by the Brazilian context and the dimensions of sustainable development defined by the Operational Directives of the Convention – social inclusion, economic inclusion, environmental-concerned engagements and peace-driven arrangements – the workshop proposes to discuss sustainable development in the ICH field addressing the following interrelated themes: ● Processes of change in social and political status of subjects and collectives that use ICH to claim rights and participation in specific arenas; ● Experiences of change in economic conditions for subjects and collectives that use ICH as a means to counterbalance certain economic forces or open specific niches in order to operate in the market; ● Situations in which ICH is used to change existing relations concerning environmental or socio-political disputes. This workshop is part of the project “UNESCO Frictions: heritage-making across global governance” based at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris, France. The “UNESCO Frictions” project traces the social life of the UNESCO 2003 Convention, investigating the entire policy chain that links the international arena with national heritage institutions and local heritage programs in China, Greece and Brazil. With the support of the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (IPHAN), Ministry of Citizenship, and Serviço Social do Comércio – SESC São Paulo, the workshop is designed to bring together heritage policy-makers, administrators, experts, and practitioners to discuss and exchange ideas and experiences about the tensions that exist in the multiple efforts to substantiate actions and practices in regards with the sustainable development of ICH.
Cite this blog post Chiara Bortolotto (2020, March 3). “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development: Concepts, Uses and Challenges” Sesc Centro de Pesquisa e Formação – São Paulo, Brasil. UNESCO frictions. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/ovqp