Chiara Bortolotto, 2020. Commercialization without over-commercialization : normative conundrums across heritage rationalities, International 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.