For nearly 70 years, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has played a crucial role in developing policies and recommendations for dealing with intangible cultural heritage. What has been the effect of such sweeping global policies on those actually affected by them? How connected is UNESCO with what is happening every day, on the ground, in local communities? Drawing upon six communities ranging across three continents—from India, South Korea, Malawi, Japan, Macedonia and China—and focusing on festival, ritual, and dance, this volume illuminates the complexities and challenges faced by those who find themselves drawn, in different ways, into UNESCO’s orbit. Some struggle to incorporate UNESCO recognition into their own local understanding of tradition; others cope with the fallout of a failed intangible cultural heritage nomination. By exploring locally, by looking outward from the inside, the essays show how a normative policy such as UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage policy can take on specific associations and inflections. A number of the key questions and themes emerge across the case studies and three accompanying commentaries: issues of terminology; power struggles between local, national and international stakeholders; the value of international recognition; and what forces shape selection processes. With examples from around the world, and a balance of local experiences with broader perspectives, this volume provides a unique comparative approach to timely questions of tradition and change in a rapidly globalizing world.
Michael Dylan Foster
[Section: Local Studies]
2 Voices on the Ground: Kutiyattam, UNESCO, and the Heritage of Humanity
3 The Economic Imperative of UNESCO Recognition: A South Korean Shamanic Ritual
4 Demonic or Cultural Treasure? Local Perspectives on Vimbuza, ICH, and UNESCO in Malawi
5 Imagined UNESCOs: Interpreting ICH on a Japanese Island
Michael Dylan Foster
6 Macedonia, UNESCO, and Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Challenging Fate of Teshkoto
7 Shifting Actors and Power Relations: Contentious Local Responses to the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Contemporary China
[Section: Critical Discussion]
8 Understanding UNESCO: The Importance of Understanding the Organization in Evaluations of Its ICH Programs
9 Learning to Live with ICH: Diagnosis and Treatment
Valdimar Tr. Hafstein
10 Cultural Forms, Policy Objects, Local Agendas
[T]his is an excellent and useful book for both individual and classroom learning.Vol. 11.1 2017
Museum Anthropology Review
The prose is engaging, focused, tightly edited, and although theoretically nuanced, includes abundant ethnographic examples making it approachable for undergraduates.
All in all, this important new volume sheds welcome light on issues that have been adumbrated in the academic literature regarding UNESCO and the safeguarding of intangible heritage
International Journal of Intangible Heritage
This volume constitutes an important resource for those who would like to study--and especially to teach--how the concept of "intangible cultural heritage" has been deployed internationally in the twenty-first century
Journal of Folklore Research
UNESCO on the Ground provides valuable insights into local perspectives on UNESCO and ICH nomination processes that help in understanding the interplay between local contexts and global heritage regimes. it is an intriguing read for scholars in the field of cultural heritage because it discusses debates about cultural heritage from an 'on- the- ground' and comparative perspective.
Journal of American Folklore
The book is important for researchers and curators alike in that it provides insightful examples and critical discussions within an overarching framework.
ICH safeguarding programmes and scholarship studiously avoid the word ‘folklore’, typically eliding folklore studies and public folklore. This volume demonstrates through empirically rich case studies how folklorists are uniquely equipped to illuminate the transformations of form, practice, and social functions through ICH, as well as ambiguous consequences of these transformations.