Beni immateriali in azione

intangible heritage tangible communities

Archive for 8 Mag 2008

*UNESCO: Intangible Cultural Heritage – ICH

Posted by benimmateriali su 8 Mag 2008

What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?

According to the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) – or living heritage – is the mainspring of our cultural diversity and its maintenance a guarantee for continuing creativity.

The Convention states that the ICH is manifested, among others, in the following domains:

-Oral traditions and expressions including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;
-Performing arts (such as traditional music, dance and theatre);
-Social practices, rituals and festive events;
-Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
-Traditional craftsmanship.

The 2003 Convention defines ICH as the practices, representations, expressions, as well as the knowledge and skills, that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage.

The definition also indicates that the ICH to be safeguarded by this Convention:

-is transmitted from generation to generation;
-is constantly recreated by communities and groups, in response to their environment, their interaction with nature, and their history;
-provides communities and groups with a sense of identity and continuity;
-promotes respect for cultural diversity and human creativity;
-is compatible with international human rights instruments;
-complies with the requirements of mutual respect among communities, and of sustainable development.

The ICH is traditional and living at the same time. It is constantly recreated and mainly transmitted orally.

The depository of this heritage is the human mind, the human body being the main instrument for its enactment, or – literally – embodiment. The knowledge and skills are often shared within a community, and manifestations of ICH often are performed collectively.

Many elements of the ICH are endangered, due to effects of globalization, uniformization policies, and lack of means, appreciation and understanding which – taken together – may lead to the erosion of functions and values of such elements and to lack of interest among the younger generations.

The Convention speaks about communities and groups of tradition bearers, without specifying them. Time and again it was stressed by the governmental experts who prepared the draft of the Convention that such communities have an open character, that they can be dominant or non dominant, that they are not necessarily linked to specific territories and that one person can very well belong to different communities and switch communities.

The Convention introduces, by establishing the Representative List, the idea of “representativeness”. “Representative” might mean, at the same time, representative for the creativity of humanity, for the cultural heritage of States, as well as for the cultural heritage of communities who are the bearers of the traditions in question.


Posted in Intangible Cultural Heritage, Unesco | 2 Comments »