Safeguarding Intangible Cultural
Heritage and Museums
A Crossing of Several Projects and Trajectories
Marc Jacobs, Jorijn Neyrinck and Evdokia Tsakiridis
In this concise institutional introduction text, guest editors Jorijn
Neyrinck, Evdokia Tsakiridis and Marc Jacobs contextualise the publication of the special issue of the journal Volkskunde on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums as a scholarly result of cooperation between actors in the European Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project, moderated by NGO Workshop intangible heritage (BE), and the UNESCO chair on critical heritage studies and the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Keywords: UNESCO 2003 Convention, Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage,
Museums, Museology, Heritage studies
Het borgen van immaterieel cultureel erfgoed en musea
Een kruispunt van verschillende projecten en trajecten
Jorijn Neyrinck, Evdokia Tsakiridis en Marc Jacobs
In deze beknopte institutionele inleiding, contextualiseren de
gastredacteurs Jorijn Neyrinck, Evdokia Tsakiridis en Marc Jacobs
onderhavig themanummer van het Tijdschrift Volkskunde over het borgen van immaterieel cultureel erfgoed en musea als het academisch resultaat van een samenwerking tussen actoren in het Europese Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project, getrokken door de organisatie Werkplaats immaterieel erfgoed (BE), en de UNESCO Leerstoel voor kritische
erfgoedstudies en het borgen van immaterieel cultureel erfgoed aan de Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
Keywords: UNESCO 2003 Conventie voor het borgen van immaterieel cultureel erfgoed, Museum, Museologie, Erfgoedstudies
Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums
A Special Issue
Evdokia Tsakiridis, Marc Jacobs and Jorijn Neyrinck
This article introduces the special issue of the journal Volkskunde dedicated to the subject of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in relation with museums. Guest editors Marc Jacobs, Jorijn Neyrinck and Evdokia Tsakiridis situate the different contributions and case studies made by a range of authors within the overall setup of the publication. The challenge and approach throughout the volume is (how) to build and cross bridges between the living heritage field and the museum sector and museology, identifying
intersections and occasions where the twain can meet.
Keywords: Intangible cultural heritage, UNESCO 2003 Convention, Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, Museums, Museology, Heritage studies
The Arsenal and the Repertoire: UNESCO, ICOM and European Frameworks
This article presents concepts like “the Archive” and “the Repertoire” (D. Taylor), obligatory passage points (M. Callon), “boundary objects” (S.Star) and the metaphor of the “Blue Arsenal” as useful tools to explore the impact of the Basic Texts of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. It zooms in on the connection between Operational Directives 108 and 109. Furthermore, new European heritage policy instruments are introduced, next to reflections on the debates on the operational
definition of what a museum is according to ICOM, and why the 2003 UNESCO Convention’s paradigm should not be ignored in this debate.
Keywords: Safeguarding intangible heritage, ICOM museum definition, museums, Council of Europe, UNESCO, Boundary objects, Appropriate vocabulary
Le patrimoine culturel immatériel a-t-il une place au musée?
The expression ‘intangible cultural heritage’ (ICH) has now become widely recognized and used. More and more museums are integrating ICH into their exhibitions, thus expanding their offer to the public while participating in safeguarding. Some institutions, however, believe they integrate or safeguard ICH,but they do it on the basis of an inaccurate understanding of its very nature.The question of the place that ICH can take within museums thus remains a largely open field of reflection. In order to do justice to this very particular heritage category, creative, innovative approaches are required.
Keywords: Intangible cultural heritage, Museums, UNESCO 2003 Convention,
Innovative approaches, UNESCO Secretariat
Discursive Crossings in Liminal Spaces
Could museums become civic spaces for Safeguarding Intangible Heritage is a timely question to address, especially as the International Council of Museums is currently debating the definition of a museum. Modernity has categorised, along with coloniality, heritage formations into binaries such as natural and cultural, movable and immovable, and tangible and intangible. These are being questioned over the past two decades largely focussing on indigeneity and cultural diversity. Demonstration projects are important
to interrogate establishment notions and their hegemonic positioning. That is exactly what the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project has been able to do, open the pathways for rethinking European heritage discourse. It has wider global implications.
This paper raises certain key questions anticipating that the next decade would be the colonising period for rethinking the institution of the museum. Transformations would need to be necessarily situated within the broader post coloniality of sustainable heritage development addressing the triangulation of Covid-19 and post pandemic realities, environmental degradation and climate crisis and gross inequities exposed by the
Black Lives Matter movement in various manifestations across the world.
Keywords: ICOM, UNESCO heritage discourse, Decolonising heritage, Museums, Intangible
cultural heri- tage
Participation in Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage Viewed as a Human Rights Imperative
The 2003 UNESCO Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is clearly situated within a human rights context, though putting these aspirations into practice can prove challenging, in particular the notion of participation that is promoted by the Convention. More recently, the significance of heritage to local actors has become much better understood and international law now calls for a greater democratization of the heritage protection paradigm, in particular through community participation in its identification, safeguarding and management. The question of how real participation by various actors – heritage bearers and associated groups and
communities, civil society, private sector actors, and others – can be ensured touches very directly on human rights related to ICH safeguarding. Museums have the potential to play a very specific role in ensuring that this aspect of the 2003 Convention is put into practice and this article attempts to locate this role of museums within this broader context of the relevant human rights.
Keywords: Intangible cultural heritage, Safeguarding, Museums, Participation,
On Levels, (Politics of) Scale, Cases and Networking
This article explores notions like ‘levels’, ‘scales’ or ‘case studies’ as useful tools to study the impact of the Basic Texts of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. It draws attention to ‘politics of scale’ and questionable labels like ‘Eurocentric’. It also zooms in on the potential problems and effects of using the overall results framework and reporting, illustrated with examples from and beyond Bulgaria.
Keywords: Politics of scale, levels, Safeguarding intangible heritage,
Overall results framework, Eurocentric, Bulgaria
Squaring the Circle?
In Search of the Charateristics of the Relationship between Intangible Cultural Heritage, Museums, Europe and the EU
The paper seeks to analyse the complex and evolving relationship between intangible cultural heritage (ICH), museums, Europe as a geographical region and the European Union as a regional organization. With the aim to understand this relationship and find relevant quantitative and qualitative data the number of inscriptions stemming from European countries (and separately from the EU member states) to the Representative List of ICH is analysed, as one of proofs of the interest shown by States Parties to the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Inscriptions from the
EU members are also examined by paying special attention to the way they incorporate museums and the role ascribed to museums visible in nomination files. Also examined is how the EU defines ‘intangible cultural heritage’ in practice, e.g. via diverse funds and programmes, with the aim to see how close (or how far) its interpretations of what is ‘intangible heritage’ are to the 2003 Convention’s definition and what is the place provided by the EU for museums promoting ICH. At the end the paper presents the challenges and possible traps that might be encountered in the process of including ICH in the current EU and museums heritage policies and actions. In order to provide a clear referential framework, the research is based on an interdisciplinary approach, involving the legal, institutional, and oplitical dimensions. In terms of the sources used, information was drawn from international governmental (EU, UNESCO) and non-governmental organizations (NEMO, Europeana) primary sources – e.g. conventions (with a focus on the 2003 Convention), institutional agreements, directives, policy documents and statements, operational directives, open calls for funds.
Keywords: Museum, UNESCO, Intangible cultural heritage, The European Union,
NEMO, Europeana, European funds, Representative List
Is ‘Bottom-Up’ a Condescending Expression?
Tales of Indignation and Reflexivity
In this essay, the author discusses the empowerment of practitioners of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and, from a conceptual perspective, the bottom-up model. To contextualize this reflection, she refers to two episodes, ephemeral and apparently irrelevant, but which helped her to rethink concepts and procedures that we often consider ‘definitive’ or even ‘unquestionable’. One of these episodes is related to her collaboration on the ICH Inventory held in the municipality of Elvas (2013-2014), in Portugal. The other episode refers to a journalistic report about the presence of a Choral Group of Cante Alentejano in Paris, in the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2014, when this cultural expression was inscribed in the Representative List.
Keywords: Intangible cultural heritage, Bottom-up model; ICH practitioners; ICH Inventory
Why Museology and Museums Should – more than ever – be Part of the Heritage Paradigm…
Why museology should no longer be a part of heritage is the title of an article published in 2016 by the French museologist Serge Chaumier. This contribution reacts to the arguments presented in that article and argues that the interaction between museums and the rest of ‘heritage’ and between museology and heritage studies is needed more than ever. The conclusions of a recent survey on museums and safeguarding intangible heritage of the French Ministry of Culture and of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project are presented as a counterarguments and as an incentive not to ignore the paradigm of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Keywords: Museums, Museology, heritage studies, Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage
Le PCI et les musées
Quand l’esprit vient à la matière sous l’arbre à palabres
Florence Pizzorni Itié
In the post-colonial era, museums of the 21st century are committed to
rethinking their roles and functions in society, the nature and meaning of the objects they preserve and the role of expertise. The new forms of museums that are developing in the global cities, by the virtue of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) that embraces diversity, are spaces open to the political and cultural repertoires of continents that seem absent in the old museum world, stemming from a colonial Europe.
Currently we are experiencing a shock in our cultural and digitized societies, risking the standardization of culture. Thanks to ICH entering into the museums, there are platforms for conviviality and multiplicity of approaches to knowledge through physical proximity and verbal and sensory confrontation. The museum that is open to ICH may be the ‘palaver tree’ of future societies.
Keywords: Intangible cultural heritage, Museums, Safeguarding, emotions, Memory, Reciprocity
Bridging the Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage Practices
Tamara Nikolić -Derić
The heritage sector is in constant change and quest for reinforcing its position and relevance in today’s societies. The more advanced the practice, studies and the debates, the more evident the challenge in adopting interdisciplinary, holistic and participatory approaches in preserving and safeguarding heritage. Reflecting on the legacy of studies related to heritage sites, museums, folkloristic and intangible cultural heritage, the author addresses some key issues generating the collaborative unease between these heritage practices and explores further the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums and the UNESCO 2003 Convention’s Operational Directives as starting point to disclose the intersections and thus meeting points of the museum and intangible cultural heritage sector on a theoretical and practical level
framing it within the ‘third space’ concept and contributing to the reinforcement of future-oriented heritage practices.
Keywords: Museums, Intangible cultural heritage, Safeguarding, Heritage sector, Third space, Intersections
Reenactment and Intangible Heritage
Strategies for Embodiment and Transmission in Museums
This article is focused on the interplay of different forms of intangibility (living heritage and reenactment heritage) and the way technologically enabled practices might reshape the role and transformation of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in museums. The article introduces three cultural heritage digitisation research projects and their associated museological interventions. The examples chosen for this chapter include the living heritage of South Chinese martial arts in Hong Kong, and the ritual reenactments arising from the canonical Confucian performance manual YiLi from the Book of Etiquette and Rites. Both projects are ongoing and were initiated in 2012. The third project
is an interactive reperformance of the poetic oeuvre of Edwin Thumboo, Singapore’s leading living poet, dating to 2013/2018 in two distinct environments/interfaces. Through use of multimodal encoding, algorithmic reenactment, recombinatory narrative and kinaesthetic digital interfaces, these three projects signal important new forms of museological experience arising from embodied cognition that have the potential to transmit ICH in museums.
Keywords: Reenactment, New museology, Encoding, Digitization, Interaction,
Past and Future Presencing in Museums
Four Cases of Engaging with Intangible Heritage from the Netherlands
In the context of the current rapid transformations in the world, the roles of museums are rethought resulting in museums’ engagement in discussing current questions and challenges of human societies. Hand in hand goes the postulation that museums should engage people as cultural participants and co-create together with individuals and communities. Which choices do museums in the Netherlands make when they decide to work with contemporary intangible cultural heritage and its bearers? Which roles do constructions of the past and ideas about the future as well as their entanglements play when working with intangible cultures? This paper argues that in the museum sector broad time alignments are critical when engaging with intangible cultural heritage. The multidirectional relationships between the past,
present and future that museums create and use when working with intangible cultural heritage will have to be taken into account more profoundly in the discourse about building bridges across, and collaborating between, the sectors.
Keywords: Intangible cultural heritage, Museums, Time alignments, Relationships between past, Present and future, Past presencing, The Netherlands
Avant-Garde & Status Quo The FeliXart Museum and its Paradoxical Legacy
Sergio Servellón and Leen Van de Weghe
In this article, we present the evolution of the FeliXart Museum from an
object-driven monographic museum to a two-track project pivoting around the legacy of the Belgian painter-farmer Felix De Boeck (1898-1995). The particularity of his involvement in the avant-garde is being researched not only for his art but also for his way of living inspired by a revolutionary time where abstraction, ecology, and new forms of organizing the world were being preached. The heritage ensemble of a museum, a farm, and an orchard seek also the inclusion of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) to create local cohesion, building a participatory track to the museological functioning. This experiment is directly applicable within the Flemish cultural heritage policy where a top-bottom approach of ICH and museums is favored.
Keywords: Art, Intangible cultural heritage, Heritage ensemble, Museum, transformation, Participation
In Rural Villages and the Suburbs Italian Experiences with Museums and Ecomuseums
Valentina Lapiccirella Zingari,
Pietro Clemente and Tommaso Lussu, Alessandra Broccolini and
Two heritage-making processes, from very different contexts of rural and urban Italy,improve our vision and understanding of the connection between the museum paradigm/experience and the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) safeguarding challenges. On one hand, the Casa Lussu experience shows the importance of local museums as building blocks of a traditional weaving revitalization project. On the other hand, the Casilino Ecomuseum is an example of a communitybased ICH process in an urban context, and the pertinence of the ecomuseum paradigm to deal with such complexity.
Keywords: Intangible cultural heritage, Urban, Local, Contemporary, Participation, Suburbs
The Nativity Scene Tradition and the Museum of Kraków
Andrzej Iwo Szoka
The nativity scene (szopka) tradition in Kraków was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018. It is the first Polish inscription on this list of UNESCO. The tradition has its roots in 19th century Kraków. Since 1937 it has been safeguarded by the city council and by the museum of the city. For decades the museum has supported the bearers of tradition and built a collection of 270 Kraków Nativity Scenes. But
it also had an influence on the modification of the phenomenon or even was at the origin of these changes. An important factor that should be considered was the relationship between the bearers of tradition and museologists. During the communist era in Poland, the museum seemed a safe haven for the nativity scene makers. The article presents a brief history of the cooperation of the museum professionals with the crib makers in the last eighty years in safeguarding the nativity scene tradition in Kraków and looks forward to the challenges in the next years.
Keywords: Nativity scenes, Representative List of Intangible Cultural
Heritage, UNESCO, City museum
Transforming, Not Saving Intangible Cultural Heritage, Museums and/or the World
Marc Jacobs and Jorijn Neyrinck
This article considers the content of this special issue of Volkskunde (n° 3, 2020) in wider frames of reference. The publication is partly a follow-up on a previous special issue (n° 3, 2014) of this journal that focused on cultural brokerage and safeguarding intangible heritage. The theme and the articles of the current special issue are situated and discussed in a broader context of other scholarly literature, international debates, initiatives and project results (in particular the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project) on museums and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, as well as in the subsequent phases, and even epistemic generations, of the paradigm of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Keywords: Safeguarding, Transforming, Intangible cultural heritage,
2003 UNESCO Convention, Museums, Museology, IMP