heritage through the market in Greece, International Journal of Heritage Studies
(Re)inventing intangible cultural heritage through the market in Greece
heritage through the market in Greece, International Journal of Heritage Studies
The UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage heralded the beginning of a new era pertaining to global (and local) cultural politics. It clearly departed from previous definitions and understandings of cultural heritage, promoting a dynamic and subjective understanding of culture. According to the Convention, communities, groups and individuals —rather than the heritage experts— are supposed to recognise and identify ICH and work towards its safeguarding and management. Today, the Convention has already been ratified by 178 State Parties and the concept of ICH is globally operational. However, as the international standard encounters different national heritage regimes, many controversies and tensions arise pertaining to its interpretation, translation and actual implementation at local levels. 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 reconceptualisation in its implementation process.
These challenges become particularly noticeable in the encounter between the abstract ideals of the Convention and the concrete uses and manifestations of ICH in the context of the so-called “Greek crisis”. Times of “crises” can create momentum and become a ground for changes and for new decisions to be made. This is also valid in the field of ICH in which people as a response to the economic “crisis” heightened their engagement with ICH in connection to the market and as a device to build up resilience. This workshop will explore the economic aspects of ICH looking at how safeguarding plans introduce ICH into the market in the context of economic austerity. This is a controversial point in the implementation of the Convention because the market is regarded as a threat to ICH and, at the same time, as a tool that keeps heritage “living” and open to change. Within this context, tourism is a key example of the marketisation of ICH.
This workshop, organised by the project “UNESCO Frictions: heritage-making across global governance” and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris with the collaboration of the Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports and the Museum of Modern Greek Culture (Athens). The workshop took place on the 3rd and 4th of September 2019 at the lecture theatre of the Museum of Modern Greek Culture. 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. This workshop is designed to bring together different actors involved in the ICH field in Greece—scholars, administrators, policy-makers and “heritage bearers”—to engage in a discussion on the uses of ICH in times of crisis. Specifically, the workshop wants to understand: how different ICH actors at different levels
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.
Heritage economies and “sustainable” development as “a way out of the Greek Crisis”
17 January 2018, Eleusina – Greece
During the Greek economic crisis, media circulate many stereotypes that depict Greeks as lazy and refusing to work hard as other Europeans. However, the Greek Ministry of Culture (MoC) considers Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) as a tool to provide a solution to the economic crisis and the negative image of Greece. Based on this, the MoC has created a strategy focusing on the promotion of agro-food products and techniques as well as other traditional crafting techniques by inscribing them on an ICH list (national or international). The aim is that the inscriptions will become leverage for other public mechanisms (such as Erasmus+ funding) that will create new jobs for the communities. Moreover, the inscriptions will enhance the visibility of the communities that practice these ICH elements in order to attract more tourism, and strengthen the commerce and local economy. Furthermore, this also will highlight “the hard work of Greeks” and fight the stereotypes. However, using ICH for to enhance the local economy is a grey zone for UNESCO and the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH that is the main framework of MoC regarding ICH. This grey zone creates a space of creative frictions by allowing to the actors many interpretations of the Convention relating to the commercialisation of ICH. Thus, the current economic crisis becomes the motivation for individuals to highlight that Intangible Cultural Heritage can provide ways to overcomes difficulties by designing heritage-centred plans based ideas of (sustainable) development.
The Directorate of Modern Cultural Heritage (DMCH) organised the Cultural Heritage Information Event in order to inform about the European Year for Cultural Heritage 2018 cultural associations, the local governance and institutions working on tourism, “traditional agro-food producers”, environmental education centres and other heritage-related institutions. There, the DMCH informed the attendees about i) what the European Year for Cultural Heritage 2018 is, ii) the procedure of how heritage related organisation could incorporate their events and activities in the schedule of the activities of the European Year for Cultural Heritage 2018 and be allowed to use its logo, and iii) how the institutions could collaborate with DMCH in the valorisation of Intangible Cultural Heritage through these activities.
The event attracted many representatives of Intangible Cultural Heritage institutions which have inscribe an element on (Greek) National list of Intangible Cultural Heritage as well as others who are working towards the inscriptions of an element. The audience had many questions and was keen to receive the European Year for Cultural Heritage as it was seen as a way to disseminate their activities, help the safeguarding of their element and possibly attract some economic capital that will be ‘invested’ in safeguarding activities.
It was an event which the UNESCO Friction project was present looking at the ways that the implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage could crossover with European policies and their implementation. 2018 will be a very active year in Europe that discussions about Cultural Heritage will reemerge and the UNESCO Friction project will continue to analyse the creative frictions which will arise from the crossovers of transnational policies with National ones as well as with practices of the local actors.