Intangible Cultural Heritage and Archaeological Studies of Social Identity

Posted on October 26, 2015

0


A videoed session from EAA that raised some very interesting discussion about what is ‘heritage’-

Session Abstract:

Ms.Leonora O’Brien, AECOM. Dr.Gerry Wait, Nexus Heritage. Dr.Ibrahima Thiaw, Laboratoired’Archéologie

Connecting archaeological identities to ethnic and social identity is a contentious area of archaeological and anthropological theory and practice. This session explores these debates through the lens of Intangible Cultural Heritage.The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into force in 2006. It defines Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the associated instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces – that communities, groups or individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage. ICH practices are an important component of contemporary cultures, transmitted from generation to generation and providing communities with a sense of identity and continuity. ICH raises questions of authenticity, as practices evolve in the face of globalizations, cultural transformation and displacement.The ownership of ICH may be contentious. In Scotland the practices of non-indigenous groups are considered equal to those of indigenous groups. Elsewhere ICH has been linked to exclusive ethnonationalist or ‘authorised heritage’ narratives. Emphasis on ICH by state authorities attracts international prestige and tourist income, but may encourage the commodification of culture. Papers are invited which examine policy and practice concerned with the identification and safeguarding of ICH:the role of experts, community involvement and participatory approaches to ICH in the context of public value and social inclusionpractical challenges in the implementation and valorisation of intangible heritage studiesconflicting expressions of the past, multivocality and the role of ICH in intercultural dialogue and community integrationstudies exploring the overlap between tangible and intangible heritage.

Introduction: Reconfiguring identities – Intangible Cultural Heritage and Archaeological Studies of Social Identity

Leonora O’Brien
AECOM

Connecting archaeological identities to ethnic and social identity is a contentious area of archaeological and anthropological theory and practice. This session explores debates through the lens of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage came into force in 2006. It defines Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the associated instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces – that communities, groups or individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage. ICH practices are an important component of contemporary cultures, transmitted from generation to generation and providing communities with a sense of identity and continuity. ICH raises questions of authenticity, as practices evolve in the face of globalisation, cultural transformation, conflict and displacement. The ownership of ICH may be contentious. In Scotland the practices of non-indigenous groups are considered equal to those of indigenous groups. Elsewhere ICH has been linked to exclusive ethno-nationalist or ‘authorised heritage’ narratives. Emphasis on ICH by state authorities attracts international prestige and tourist income, but may encourage the commodification of culture.

This session focuses on policy and practice concerned with the identification and safeguarding of ICH: the role of experts, community involvement and participatory approaches to ICH in the context of public value and social inclusion, practical challenges in the implementation and valorisation of intangible heritage studies, conflicting expressions of the past, multivocality and the role of ICH in intercultural.

Intangible Heritage and Archaeology in Mongolia

Gerry Wait
NEXUS HERITAGE
In 2010-11 the author participated in a project in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. The Mongolian International Heritage Team brought together international consultants paired with members from the various departments of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, jointly directed by Jeff Altschul from SRI and Byambaa Gunchinsuren from the MAS-Institute of Archaeology. The project started off as an extremely large and holistic management plan for a copper-gold mine, but eventually grew to encompass new national legislation and a structure for managing heritage impacts arising from mining in the South Gobi. The author’s remit was the Intangible heritage of the Gobi, partnering with the Institute of History MAS – where ethnography had been placed. Our investigations focussed among other forms on the Mongolian long-songs – the urtyn duu – and the uvt
gazruud or sacred places. The Mongolian peoples of the Gobi, perhaps because of their strong nomadic heritage, are far more attuned to the variety and importance of the intangible aspects of their culture and, as will be described, the resulting study was phenomenally rich and sets very high expectations for future environmental impact studies and conservation plans.

Intangible cultural heritage in Mauritania: sedentarisation, adaptation and ongoing reinvention

Leonora O’Brien
AECOM
This paper will explore the evolution, adaptation and reinvention of Mauritanian intangible cultural heritage in the context of
increasing desertification and rapidly accelerating social change. Mauritanian intangible heritage practices include living national languages; social structures and lifeways; written and oral poetry and songs; instrumental and sung music; oral culture and education; traditional games, popular wisdom and stories; traditional science and technology including desert plant medicine and agriculture in arid environments; housing; written
knowledge, calligraphy and manuscripts; Islamic cosmology, theology, popular beliefs, liturgical and symbolic concepts; and knowledge systems associated with desert navigation.
The Moorish epic T’heydinn, performed by Griots accompanied by traditional instruments, was inscribed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2011. The country participates in UNESCO’s ‘Living Human Treasures’ programme, striving to foster the transmission of skills to the next generation in the areas of traditional music and in the fishing practices of the Imraguen community. Mauritania underwent a period of accelerated social change catalysed by the Sahelian Droughts of the early 1970s and mid- 1980s, resulting in massive and ongoing cultural upheaval – extensive sedentarisation of nomadic pastoralists and sudden urbanisation. Cultural tourism initiatives supporting traditional lifeways, artisanal crafts and cultural industries established in the 1990s and 2000s are foundering due to rising militant insurgency in the Maghreb. Increasing industrialisation, regional environmental pressure and insecurity is giving rise to greater contact with other cultures, internal migrants and international workers. Intangible heritage practices are in flux, adjusting to cultural dislocation and transformation.

The Drowned Landscape of Dordrecht

Form Follows Fingers – Archaeological Typologies and the Perspective of the Producer

Nadja Melko
UNIVERSITY OF ZURICH
As a part of the project LIMITES INTER PROVINCIAS (University of Zurich) I research in a recently discovered pottery complex in the Roman vicus Kempraten, Rapperswil/Iona, Switzerland, which is located near the provincial border between Raetia and Germania Superior. The produced spectrum of domestic and fine ware is broad and shows different indigenous as well as Roman elements (Shucany 1996, Shucany – Martin-Kilcher – Berger – Paunier 1999). Those elements (pattern, shape and technological aspects) show a complex system of subidentities based on individual, regional, cultural or familiar motives and reflect simultaneously the skills of the craftsman (Stockhammer 2009). I work on a method to recognize procedural and intentional marks in vessel profiles, which should led directly to typology. But the craft of pottery is poor in tools and the knowledge is primarily learned and “told” through movements and postures and the social environment and the cultural tradition of the producer influence this embodied knowledge in different ways and become part of the materialized form (Mauss 1975, Pollock 2003, Jørgensen 2013, von Rüden 2014). For this purpose I am in intensive exchange with different potters and the school of ceramics in Landshut, to investigate how the perspective of the producer containing the embodied knowledge and experience match with general seriations (Schiffer – Skibo 1997). Because practical experiments in cooperation with craftsmen are essential, according photos and videos will enlighten hidden aspects, which you cannot verbalize without  visualisation.

Posted in: Uncategorized