Intangible cultural heritage: safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China. Part 2

Dublin Core

Tytuł

Intangible cultural heritage: safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China. Part 2

Temat

cultural heritage
UNESCO 2003 convention

Opis

223 s.; il.color.

Twórca

Schreiber, Hanna (ed.)

Wydawca

National Heritage Board of Poland

Data

2017

Prawa

Licencja PIA

Relacja

oai:cyfrowaetnografia.pl:publication:6644

Format

application/pdf

Język

ang

Typ

książka

Identyfikator

oai:cyfrowaetnografia.pl:6212

PDF Text

Text

Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China

INTANGIBLE
CULTURAL
HERITAGE
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention
through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China

INTANGIBLE
CULTURAL
HERITAGE
edited by Hanna Schreiber

10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention
through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Title
Intangible Cultural Heritage: Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China.
The 10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development.
Scientific and substantive editor
Hanna Schreiber
Principal reviewer
Andrzej Rottermund
Language editing
Tomasz Wiśniewski
Translation
LIDEX
Mechanical editing
Aleksandra Zych
Proof-reading
Tomasz Wiśniewski, Aleksandra Zych, Hanna Schreiber
Layout, cover design and typesetting
Magdalena Piotrowska-Kloc, Printomato
© 2017 National Heritage Board of Poland
ul. Kopernika 36/40,
00-924 Warszawa
ISBN 978-83-63260-95-8
Printed by
Łódzkie Zakłady Graficzne

The views expressed in the articles published in this volume are those of the authors and do not necessarily
represent the views of the institutions they work for, neither the National Heritage Board of Poland nor the Polish
Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.

FOREWORDS
Intangible cultural heritage at the heart of sustainable development . . . 12
Timothy Curtis

Foreword . . . 16
Magdalena Gawin

Opening speech . . . 20
Chen Fafen

The National Heritage Board of Poland in the process of implementing
the provisions of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage . . . 26
Małgorzata Rozbicka

Introductory speech made during the opening of the 1st China – Central
and Eastern European Countries Expert-Level Forum on the Safeguarding
of Intangible Cultural Heritage . . . 34
Leszek Zegzda

Kraków and its heritage in the European context . . . 40
Jacek Purchla

4

INTRODUCTORY PAPERS
Intangible cultural heritage safeguarding:
a global campaign and its practice in China . . . 52
An Deming

Implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage – the Polish experience . . . 68
Jan Adamowski

PART 1. ICH AND GOOD PRACTICES OF ITS SAFEGUARDING
Croatia’s intangible cultural heritage safeguarding policies and practice.
The implementation of the UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Croatia . . . 86
Mirela Hrovatin, Martina Šimunković

Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Latvia:
insights into the contribution of NGOs . . . 100
Gita Lancere, Anita Vaivade

Intangible cultural heritage in Lithuania . . . 112
Vida Šatkauskienė, Loreta Sungailienė, Skirmantė Ramoškaitė

Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Hungary . . . 128
Eszter Csonka-Takács, Vanda Illés

5

PART 2. ICH AND THE EXAMINATION AND DOCUMENTATION
OF PHENOMENA
The strategy of safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage
in the Czech Republic . . . 142
Martin Šimša

Estonian inventory of intangible cultural heritage.
The case of cross-trees . . . 154
Marju Kõivupuu

Intangible cultural heritage of Albania and the challenges in creating
the National Inventory and the list of phenomena and elements . . . 166
Silva Breshani, Arta Dollani

Ambiguity in the system of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage
in the Republic of Macedonia . . . 184
Velika Stojkova Serafimovska, Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska

The implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage in the Republic of Serbia: documentation of the National Register
of Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade . . . 198
Danijela Filipović

Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina . . . 214
Milica Kotur

Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Slovakia . . . 226
Eva Ryšavá-Záhumenská

6

Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in Bulgaria . . . 238
Albena Georgieva

Documentation as a form of safeguarding of the intangible
cultural heritage in China: practice and experience . . . 254
Deng Xuechen

PART 3. CREATING THE ICH SAFEGUARDING SYSTEM
– CURRENT CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS
The intangible cultural heritage of Romania:
current situation and future directions . . . 262
Marta Nedelcu

The intangible cultural heritage of Slovenia
and the activities of the Coordinator . . . 274
Nena Židov

Networks of intangible cultural heritage experts in Hungary . . . 286
Eszter Csonka-Takács

Intangible cultural heritage in the system of cultural heritage
protection in Poland . . . 292
Katarzyna Zalasińska

What do we mean when we say ICH?
Or does the Galičnik wedding constitute ‘intangible cultural heritage’? . . . 300
Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska

7

‘World is sacred’ worldview as an element of intangible cultural heritage
in the modern world . . . 306
Vida Šatkauskienė

Safeguarding and transmission of intangible cultural heritage –
the case of Surova in a museum context . . . 318
Iglika Mishkova

The Association of Folk Artists and its activities for the safeguarding
of intangible cultural heritage in Poland . . . 336
Waldemar Majcher, Paweł Onochin, Katarzyna Smyk

PART 4. ICH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Lists of intangible cultural heritage:
the beginning or the end of sustainability? . . . 352
Eva Románková-Kuminková

Intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development:
case study of Suiti cultural space in Latvia . . . 370
Anita Vaivade

Vernacular religion as an element of intangible heritage
in terms of sustainable development . . . 380
Katarzyna Smyk

Importance of inter-institutional cooperation for ICH safeguarding
and sustainable development. The case of dry stone building . . . 398
Mirela Hrovatin

8

Securing the future of intangible cultural heritage in Romania
in a sustainable way: benefits and subsequent risks . . . 412
Adina Hulubaş

Discontinuation in transmission – threats and questions.
The case study of Glasoechko singing in the Republic of Macedonia . . . 422
Velika Stojkova Serafimovska

SUMMARY
Ten remarks on the 10th anniversary of entry into force
of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage . . . 434
Hanna Schreiber

Acknowledgements . . . 472
Hanna Schreiber

PART 3.
CREATING THE ICH SAFEGUARDING
SYSTEM – CURRENT CHALLENGES
AND SOLUTIONS

262

INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

The intangible cultural
heritage of Romania:
current situation and future
directions
Marta Nedelcu*

*

Counsellor, Ministry of Culture and National Identity (Ministerul Culturii şi Identităţii Naţionale), Bucharest, Romania,
e-mail: marta.nedelcu@cultura.ro.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

…one of the priorities of the Ministry of Culture and National Identity
in the last year was to draw up the most important legal instrument referring
to the cultural heritage, including the intangible cultural heritage: Tezele Codului
Patrimoniului Cultural (The theses of the cultural heritage code). After being
presented for public consultation, in November 2016, the preliminary theses
were approved by a decision of the government. The document represents
the preliminary stage to elaborate the Codul Patrimoniului Cultural (cultural
heritage code), aligning the national legislation to the European principles.

Introduction
Over the last three decades, increasingly more experts around the world have been expressing
their concerns over the negative effects of growing globalisation on the cultural diversity of
people, especially on the living heritage of humanity – as a dynamic phenomenon and a permanent
transformation. They have drawn attention to the need of adopting measures aimed at ensuring
its safeguarding and preservation.
It is in this context that UNESCO adopted the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage – the first international legal instrument – at its 32nd session of the General
Conference. In the very first lines of the Convention, we can read that
the processes of globalization and social transformation, alongside the conditions they create for renewed
dialogue among communities, also give rise, as does the phenomenon of intolerance, to grave threats
of deterioration, disappearance, and destruction of the intangible cultural heritage, in particular owing
to a lack of resources for safeguarding such heritage1.

After approximately two years, on 29 December 2005, Romania accepted the 2003 UNESCO
Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage2, becoming the 30th state
party to the Convention.

1

Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/convention
(accessed: 30 October 2016).

2

Law no. 410/2005 on the acceptance of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted in
Paris on 17 October 2003 (Legea nr. 410 din 29 decembrie 2005 privind acceptarea Convenției pentru salvgardarea patrimoniului
cultural imaterial, adoptată la Paris la 17 octombrie 2003, Monitorul Oficial [The Official Gazette], no. 17, 9 January 2006).

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

However, it is worth mentioning that important steps with regard to the safeguarding of living
heritage had already been made in Romania a few decades ago. The primary example is the first
initiative to document the Romanian traditional culture, made by Dimitrie Gusti (1880–1925),
a personality crucial to the Romanian culture in the interwar years, founder of the Sociological
School of Bucharest, sociologist, philosopher, and aesthetician. He based his research on the idea
that the research of the nation should start with research of the village, the fundamental basis of
Romanian people. In 1925, Dimitrie Gusti initiated an extensive campaign, in which interdisciplinary teams of researchers – sociologists, ethnographers, geographers, and other experts – have
studied the relevant expressions and manifestations of village life.
Ten years later, this impressive project was partially transposed into a more tangible form: the
Romanian Village Museum (Muzeul Satului Românesc), founded in 1936, one of the first open-air
museums in Europe. Although its initial objective was scientific research, during their research in
the territory, the team members collected representative items – furniture, ceramics, textiles,
tools – and the best way to exhibit them was to place them in peasant houses from different
ethnographic areas. This led to the birth of a village in the city centre of Bucharest called The Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum (Muzeul Național al Satului ‘Dimitrie Gusti’) (Gusti 2010).
Other considerable initiatives from the last century that aim to preserve and promote the
Romanian living heritage together with the accumulated experience have contributed to the creation of a solid ground for the acceptance and implementation of the 2003 Convention.

Brief introduction to the history and current situation
of the intangible cultural heritage of Romania
Romania is divided into three historical regions, from the center to the borders: the intra-Carpathian area, outlined by the arch of Carpathian Mountains; the area east of the mountains; and
the south of the mountains, bordered by the Danube: Europe’s longest river, which separates the
Carpathian area from the Balkan Peninsula.
The geographical and historical framework has determined the Romanian culture and its own
ethos. The identity of Romania has formed as a mix of ancient Dacian and Roman elements, with
many other influences. In Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the most important influences came from
the Slavic peoples and the Byzantine Empire.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

First scientific concerns for intangible cultural heritage, or folklore (as it was understood in
Romania in that era), appear in the second half of the 19th century. The merit goes to Bogdan Petriceicu Hașdeu (1838–1907), Romanian writer and philologist, who approached the folklore from
a scientific point of view for the first time, and established its main links with other areas: history,
philology, and psychology (Chiţimia 1968, 671–74).
Over time, different definitions have been made, and a multitude of terms have been coined to
denote this highly-varied field, each of them focusing on a different area; the intense activity, the
continuing concern for folklore and ethnography, all generating ‘reservoirs’ for important information about the identity of Romanian people.
The multitude of customs, traditions, rituals and social practices can be divided nowadays
into 9 main ethnographic regions: Transilvania, Maramureş, Crişana, Banat, Oltenia, Muntenia,
Dobrogea, Moldova, and Bucovina.
In Romania, there are a number of governmental and non-governmental institutions and competent bodies at the national and local level that directly and indirectly play a vital role towards the
management and promotion of intangible cultural heritage.
The attributions of main institutions are established by the central piece of ICH legislation:
Chapter IV of the Law no. 26/2008 on the protection of intangible cultural heritage. According to
article 17, the Ministry of Culture and National Identity (Ministerul Culturii şi Identităţii Naţionale)
plays a central role and ‘coordinates at the national level the activities of public institutions with
responsibilities in the field of intangible cultural heritage’3.
Other specific duties with reference to intangible cultural heritage include developing policies
and strategies and providing financial support to the institutions responsible for the identification,
conservation, protection, and promotion of intangible cultural heritage of Romania. The Ministry
of Culture and National Identity also supports the institutions involved in the implementation
of safeguarding strategies for intangible cultural heritage.
However, the institution directly responsible for intangible cultural heritage is the National
Heritage Institute (Institutul Național al Patrimoniului), a public institution of national importance, subordinated to the Ministry of Culture and National Identity through the Department of
Conservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture (Direcția Conservarea și Promovarea Culturii
Tradiționale). According to article 18 of the Law no. 26/2008, its main duties are: ‘to initiate and
3

Legea nr. 26 din 29 februarie 2008 privind protejarea patrimoniului cultural imaterial, Monitorul Oficial, no. 168, 5 March 2008.

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INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE
Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Doina, © Institute of Ethnography and Folklore ‘Constantin Brăiloiu’ – Romanian Academy.

Lad’s dances in Romania, © Motoc Ioan.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

develop projects and programs regarding conservation, protection and promotion of the intangible cultural heritage’, ‘coordinate on the methodological level the activities of cultural establishments in the field of intangible cultural heritage’, ‘implement education programs in the field
of traditional cultural expressions’. However, perhaps the most important activity of the Department of Conservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture is related to the organisation and
administration of the National Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Registrul Naţional al Patrimoniului Cultural Imaterial).
In line with the provisions of the 2003 Convention (article 13: Other measures for safeguarding),
in 2008, Romania designated a competent body for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural
heritage present in its territory: the National Commission for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage (Comisia Națională pentru Salvgardarea Patrimoniului Cultural Imaterial). It plays
a significant role in the activities concerning intangible cultural heritage. It is a scientific body
without a legal personality, subordinated to the Ministry of Culture and National Identity. The
organisation and the functioning of the Commission, as well as the main responsibilities of this
scientific body, are established by the articles 13, 14, and 15 of the Law no. 26/2008, and the Order
of the Minister of Culture no. 2102/20144. We mention only some of its duties: ‘coordinating the
activities tied to protection and promotion of the intangible cultural heritage under the cultural
policies of the Ministry of Culture and National Identity’, ‘developing the National Safeguarding
Program’, ‘conferring the title of Living Human Treasures for domains of the intangible cultural
heritage’, ‘drafting the national lists of the intangible cultural heritage’, and elaborating the nomination files for the UNESCO ICH Lists.
Beside the above-presented institutions and bodies, other key institutions and organisations
are directly involved in the safeguarding process of ICH in Romania: County Centres for Conservation and Promotion of Traditional Culture (Centrele Județene pentru Conservarea și Promovarea
Culturii Tradiționale), research institutes of the Romanian Academy, universities with ethnology
programmes, ethnographic museums, cultural institutions, professional associations, NGOs,
researchers, and individuals operating in the field of intangible cultural heritage.
All the relevant institutions, organisations, and bodies are actively involved in the safeguarding,
development, and promotion of intangible cultural heritage and work in a complementary way.

4

Ordinul Ministrului Culturii nr. 2102 din 19.02.2014 privind organizarea şi funcţionarea Comisiei Naţionale pentru Salvgardarea
Patrimoniului Cultural Imaterial.

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Safeguarding measures at national and international level
One of the first safeguarding measures undertaken by Romania at the national level was ‘to identify
and define various elements of intangible cultural heritage present in its territory’, as established
by the article 11 of the 2003 Convention. In this way, in 2008, our country initiated a process of
drafting two relevant instruments: The Repertoire of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Romania
(Repertoriu Național de Patrimoniu Cultural Imaterial – Repertoire, from now on) and The National
Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Registrul Național al Patrimoniului Cultural Imaterial –
Register, from now on).
According to the authors, the Repertoire represents ‘a synthesis of all phenomena of the
Romanian traditional culture’ (Ministerul Culturii şi Identităţii Naţionale. Comisia Naţională pentru
Salvgardarea Patrimoniului Cultural Imaterial 2009, 2014). Furthermore, it is the most important tool for inventorying Romanian intangible cultural heritage elements. The competent body
responsible for the entire work was the National Commission for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The Repertoire has now reached the first part of the second volume out of a series of three bilingual volumes (Romanian and French). The five domains of the 2003 Convention provided a starting
point in the process of drafting the Repertoire, however, taking into account the diversity and the
complexity of the Romanian traditional culture, the entire work has been subdivided into thematic
chapters, leading to the following structure:
The first volume (2009) is dedicated to four out of five domains, as defined by the 2003 Convention, and consists of nine thematic chapters: art forms of language and oral traditional expressions;
folk music and dance; toys for children and youth; feasts, social practices and rituals; traditional
practices for preventing, controlling and curing diseases; traditional craftsmanship; traditional
food; language.
The second volume is divided into two parts, both dedicated to the last of the five domains:
volume IIA (2014) encompasses and systematises the knowledge about the man and the universe,
knowledge of the earth, ethnobotany, and practices concerning the animals, while volume IIB,
which is currently under work, will contain elements of intangible cultural heritage referring to the
organisation of space and habitat.
The third volume will be dedicated to the intangible cultural heritage of the ethnic minorities
of Romania.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

In the process of drawing up the Repertoire, the information obtained from the questionnaires
that had been addressed to the communities was compared and completed with previous bibliographical and documenting instruments, such as: the Atlasul etnografic român (Romanian ethnographic atlas), monographs, field research documents, materials from folklore archives, and others.
The two volumes of the Repertoire that have been published can also be accessed in electronic
form, on the official website of Ministry of Culture and National Identity in Romania5.
According to the Law no. 26/2008, article 12, the Register is designed as follows:
a) a list of elements of intangible cultural heritage no longer used or remembered by communities;
b) a list of intangible cultural heritage elements that are in danger of disappearing;
c) a list of active elements which represent the existing intangible cultural heritage of Romania.

The second important safeguarding measure undertaken at the national level, in line with provisions of the article 13 of the 2003 Convention, was the creation of a series of legal instruments
related to intangible cultural heritage.
As previously mentioned, the Law no. 26/2008 on protecting the intangible cultural heritage
is the central piece of legislation in regards to the ICH of Romania. It establishes the general
framework for the identification, documentation, research, protection, preservation, promotion,
enhancement, transmission, and revitalisation of intangible cultural heritage elements. This law
contains relevant provisions concerning intangible cultural heritage: the definitions of the terms
and expressions (article 2), the main characteristics of ICH (article 4), the 5 domains of the ICH, the
Living Human Treasures title (article 7), the safeguarding measures for ICH (article 9), the National
Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (article 12), the institutions and bodies responsible for
ICH (Chapter IV).
Other legal instruments are:
• Law no. 410/2005 on the acceptance of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage, adopted in Paris on 17 October 2003;
• Order of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage no. 2436/2008 on the elaboration of the
National Programme for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage6;
• Order of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage no. 2491/2009 on granting the title
5

Volume I: http://www.cultura.ro/sites/default/files/inline-files/Repertoriu Patrimoniu Cultural Imaterial vol I franceza.pdf;
volume IIA: http://www.cultura.ro/sites/default/files/inline-files/Repertoriu Patrimoniu Cultural Imaterial vol IIA romana
si franceza_0.pdf (accessed: 30 November 2016).

6

Ordinul Ministrului Culturii și Cultelor nr. 2436 din 8.07.2008 privind elaborarea Programului naţional de salvgardare, protejare
și punere în valoare a patrimoniului cultural imaterial.

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Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Craftsmanship of Horezu ceramics, © Romanian Peasant
Museum.

Craftsmanship of Horezu ceramics, © National Heritage Institute, Romania.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

of Living Human Treasures7 with subsequent additions and amendments by the Order of the
Minister of Culture no. 2148/20138;
• Order of the Minister of Culture no. 2102/2014 on the organisation and functioning
of the National Commission for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage;
• Law no. 102/2015 on establishing the National Day of the Romanian Traditional Costume9.
In line with the provisions of the 2003 Convention, Romania has established the National Program
of the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (Programul Național pentru Salvgardarea
Patrimoniului Cultural Imaterial) through the National Commission of the Safeguarding of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The Order of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage no. 2436/2008 on the elaboration
of the National Programme for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage provides the
main directions of the Program:
• documenting, inventorying, and studying of ICH elements and editing the National Register
of ICH through identifying the communities, groups, and individuals that keep the elements
of intangible cultural heritage alive;
• safeguarding, conserving, transmitting, and promoting of the ICH elements through special
programs and projects, as well as through collaborations and partnerships with institutions,
bodies, or specialists;
• valorising ICH through projects that amend legislative and administrative frameworks;
• promoting ICH through programmes and/or projects, raising awareness through campaigns and
editorial projects;
• protecting ICH by writing regulatory drafts and strategies to support communities, groups, and
individuals that bear elements of ICH in order to preserve and transmit it to the new generations;
• international cooperation in the field of ICH through liaising with homologue institutions and
organisms from the countries that have ratified the UNESCO 2003 Convention.
According to the article 14 of the 2003 Convention, the States Parties ‘shall endeavour to capacity-building activities for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage’. In this sense, the
7

Ordinul Ministrului Culturii, Cultelor și Patrimoniului Național nr. 2491 din 27.11.2009 pentru aprobarea Regulamentului de acordare
a titlului de Tezaur Uman Viu.

8

Ordinul Ministrului Culturii nr. 2148 privind modificarea alin. (1) al art. 11 din Anexa la Ordinul Ministrului Culturii Cultelor
și Patrimoniului Național nr. 2491 din 27.11.2009, pentru aprobarea Regulamentului de acordare a titlului de Tezaur Uman Viu.

9

Legea nr. 102 din 7.05.2015 privind instituirea Zilei Naționale a Costumului Tradițional din România, Monitorul Oficial, no. 323,
13 May 2015.

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

Ministry of Culture and National Identity, in collaboration with the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices of UNESCO,
and with the support of the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum, has organised the National
Workshop ‘Implementing the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage at the national level’, which took place in Bucharest in June 2016.
The workshop was attended by representatives from governmental and non-governmental
organisations, communities, institutions, and individual experts who were personally involved
in the implementation of the Convention.
The workshop not only contributed to adding value to national efforts of working on the effective implementation of the 2003 Convention, but it gave the main actors of the ICH sector a possibility to exchange experiences.
‘In order to ensure better visibility of the intangible cultural heritage and awareness of its significance’ (article 16 of the 2003 Convention), Romania has inscribed six elements on the Representative
List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: ‘Căluş ritual’ (2008, previously declared a Masterpiece
of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, in 2005); ‘Doina’ (2009); ‘Craftsmanship of Horezu
ceramics’ (2012); ‘Men’s group Colindat, Christmas-time ritual’ (2013, multinational file, Romania
and Republic of Moldova); ‘Lad’s dances in Romania’ (2015); ‘Traditional wall-carpet craftsmanship
in Romania and the Republic of Moldova’ (2016, multinational file, coordinated by Romania).
One more nomination file was submitted to the Intergovernmental Committee to be examined
at its twelfth session (2017): ‘Cultural practices associated to the 1st of March’ (a multinational file coordinated by Romania and elaborated together with Bulgaria, Macedonia, and the Republic of Moldova).
Two more application files are currently in progress: ‘The blouse with altiţă’, the traditional
women’s blouse characterised by the presence of embroidered fields: the collar (chest and sleeves)
called altiţă, the vertical or diagonal stripes on the sleeves, the brețară (a bracelet-like element that
supports the sleeves around the wrists) and a pleated element (an ornamental strip under the
altiţă); and ‘Oina game’, a traditional sport game known since the 14th century, practiced outdoors.

Future directions
The initiatives mentioned above have significantly contributed to the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage of Romania. However, some issues still require our attention. The main

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

challenges faced by our country are: the insufficient knowledge of the regulatory framework and
of the National Safeguarding Programme for ICH, the existence of some confusing provisions
within the legal framework regarding the responsibilities of the institutions involved in the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage, the local public funding of events promoting false
values of cultural heritage, the acculturation process that alters traditional values, the low interest
of the youth in continuing the transmission of intangible cultural heritage elements.
In this regard, one of the priorities of the Ministry of Culture and National Identity in the last year
was to draw up the most important legal instrument referring to the cultural heritage, including
the intangible cultural heritage: Tezele Codului Patrimoniului Cultural (The theses of the cultural
heritage code). After being presented for public consultation, in November 2016, the preliminary
theses were approved by a decision of the government. The document represents the preliminary
stage to elaborate the Codul Patrimoniului Cultural (cultural heritage code), aligning the national
legislation to the European principles.
Moreover, in 2016 the Ministry of Culture and National Identity has drafted the Strategy for
Culture and National Heritage for 2016–2020. The draft of the Strategy is a document of public
medium-term policies and contains information about the strategic vision and the priorities
of action, with relevant references to intangible cultural heritage.

References
Chiţimia, Ion Constantin. 1968. “Bogdan Petriceicu Haşdeu.” In Istoria literaturii române, vol. II. De la Scoala ardeleană
la Juniméa, 644–705. Bucuresti: Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste Romania.
Gusti, Dimitrie. 2010. “Gânduri.” Jurnalul Național, May 16. Accessed October 30, 2016. http://jurnalul.ro/editie-decolectie/dimitrie-gusti/ganduri-543918.html.
Ministerul Culturii. Comisia Naţională pentru Salvgardarea Patrimoniului Cultural Imaterial. 2009. Patrimoniul
cultural imaterial din România. Repertoriu. I [The Intangible Cultural Heritage of Romania. The Repertoire I].
Bucureşti: CIMEC – Institutul de Memorie Culturală.
Ministerul Culturii. Comisia Naţională pentru Salvgardarea Patrimoniului Cultural Imaterial. 2014. Patrimoniul
cultural imaterial din România. Repertoriu IIA [The intangible cultural heritage of Romania. The repertoire IIA].
Bucureşti: Editura Etnologică.

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The intangible cultural
heritage of Slovenia
and the activities
of the Coordinator
Nena Židov*

*

Slovene Ethnographic Museum (Slovenski etnografski muzej), Ljubljana, Slovenia, e-mail: nena.zidov@etno-muzej.si.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

We consider it very important to question the possible consequences
of our decisions related to the elements, to the bearers in the field,
to the considerations of certain elements as suitable for inscribing
on the Register, to the proclamation of ICH of special significance,
and to the decisions on preparing a nomination for inscription
on the Representative List.

Initial reflections on intangible cultural heritage
The first debates in response to the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage started in Slovenia in 2004. In cooperation with the Slovene National Committee
of ICOM (Slovenski odbor ICOM), the Institute of Slovene Ethnology (Inštitut za slovensko narodopisje) and the Institute of Ethnomusicology (Glasbenonarodopisni inštitut) – the last two at the
Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts (Znanstvenoraziskovalni
center Slovenske akademije znanosti in umetnosti) – and the Slovene Ethnographic Museum have
organised a panel discussion on intangible cultural heritage (Zdravič Polič 2004, 257). The participants discussed the relationship between tangible and intangible heritage, research methodologies, and the significance of ICH for Slovene ethnologists and folklorists. Since different terms
may be used to translate ‘intangible heritage’ into Slovene (such as nematerialna / neopredmetena
/ neoprijemljiva / neotipljiva / nesnovna dediščina), the discussion also highlighted the issue of terminology (Slavec Gradišnik 2004, 262). In the same year, the first article discussing the relationship
between the tangible and the intangible in ethnographic museums (Čeplak Mencin 2004) and the
first Slovene translations of the definitions adopted at the International Conference of ICH Experts
held in Paris in 2002 (Smrke and Slavec Gradišnik 2004) were published in Etnolog – a periodical
publication of the Slovene Ethnographic Museum.
In 2005, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia (Zavod za varstvo
kulturne dediščine Slovenije) published a book Nesnovna kultura dediščina (Intangible cultural
heritage), presenting the most important ICH elements in Slovenia (Prešeren and Gorenc 2005).
The idea of the publication was to draw the attention of both the professional community and the

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lay public to the importance of ICH, to promote the political will to ratify the Convention for the
Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and to begin implementing actual measures for
its safeguarding (Koželj 2005, 11).

Ratification and implementation of the UNESCO Convention
From 2006 to 2008, the project Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage as an Integral Part
of a Uniform Cultural Heritage Register was led by the Institute of Slovene Ethnology at the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts. Its aim was to prepare the
guidelines for the Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Slovenia (Križnar 2008). In 2008,
the Act ratifying the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage1 entered
into force, and the Convention was implemented by the new Cultural Heritage Protection Act.2
In addition to movable and immovable cultural heritage, it included ICH.3 According to the Act, the
public service related to the safeguarding of the ICH is delegated to the Coordinator for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (Koordinator varstva nesnovne kulturne dediščine)
with the following responsibilities: to identify, document, research, evaluate, and interpret the
intangible heritage; to coordinate and independently propose the entry of elements of the intangible heritage in the national register; to advise the bearers of ICH on its integral safeguarding;
to coordinate the work of museums and institutes related to the preservation of the intangible
heritage of special significance; to coordinate the work of museums and institutes related to the
safeguarding of the intangible heritage and cultural spaces connected with it; and to perform other
tasks related to the intangible heritage as commissioned by the Ministry of Culture.4 Between 2009
and 2010, the function of the Coordinator was performed by the Institute of Slovene Ethnology at
the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts.
The Cultural Heritage Protection Act forms the basis for the Register of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage (Register nesnovne kulturne dediščine) kept by the Ministry of Culture. In addition, the
1

Zakon o ratifikaciji Konvencije o varovanju nesnovne kulturne dediščine, Uradni list Republike Slovenije [The Official Gazette of the
Republic of Slovenia] 2/2008, 8 January 2008.

2

Zakon o varstvu kulturne dediščine (ZVKD-1), Uradni list Republike Slovenije 16/2008, 15 February 2008.

3

Originally referred to as ‘living cultural heritage’ and in 2016, following a proposal by the Coordinator, changed to ‘intangible
cultural heritage’ (Zakon o spremembah in dopolnitvah Zakona o varstvu kulturne dediščine (ZVKD-1D) [the Act amending the
Cultural Heritage Protection Act], Uradni list Republike Slovenije 32/2016, 6 May 2016).

4

Zakon o varstvu kulturne dediščine (ZVKD-1), art. 98.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

Act also defines the proclamation of ICH elements of special local or national significance.5 While
the inscription of an element in the Register does not carry any legal consequences for its bearers,
the proclamation of an element of special significance includes safeguarding measures, support
for its bearers and practitioners, and the engagement of the state in the protection of the area
important for the safeguarding of the element (Kovačec Naglič 2012, 15–17). The notion of ICH
was also incorporated in the Rules on the Cultural Heritage Register (2009)6 and in the Rules on the
Registry of Types of Heritage and Protection Guidelines (2010).7

The Slovene Ethnographic Museum – the Coordinator for the
Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Slovenia
Since 2003, the Slovene Ethnographic Museum has added ICH to its basic mission of protecting,
introducing, and promoting the understanding of material cultural heritage (Smerdel 2003, 25–26).
The knowledge about ICH is disseminated at the museum through exhibitions, events, workshops
for children and adults, and through lectures and seminars. We have been paying special attention to ICH since 2011 when the Ministry of Culture assigned the function of Coordinator to the
museum.
To perform the responsibilities of the Coordinator, the museum has proposed an establishment
of a special Intangible Heritage Department with additional employees, however, only one member
of the museum staff is assigned to work in the field of ICH on a full-time basis. Some coordination
tasks are performed by other museum employees and especially by the curators, who participate
in the informal working group in addition to their routine assignments. Museum staff is also active
in the field, preserving or re-establishing contacts with bearers of ICH elements, providing them
with advice on its safeguarding, assisting in the process of writing applications for the Register, and
engaging in education. The activities of bearers are documented with photo and video cameras.
Cooperating with the bearers, the Coordinator also prepares proposals and texts for the entry
of elements in the Register, cooperates in the proclamation of ICH of special significance, and
participates in the preparation of UNESCO nominations which are the responsibility of the Ministry
5

Originally as ‘living masterpiece of local or national significance’, since 2016 ‘intangible cultural heritage of special local or
national significance’ (Zakon o spremembah in dopolnitvah Zakona o varstvu kulturne dediščine [ZVKD-1D]).

6

Pravilnik o registru kulturne dediščine, Uradni list Republike Slovenije 66/2009, 21 August 2009.

7

Pravilnik o seznamih zvrsti dediščine in varstvenih usmeritvah, Uradni list Republike Slovenije 102/2010, 17 December 2010.

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Making bobbin lace in Idrija Lace School, 2014. Photo by Nena Židov.

Easter dances and games in Metlika, 2017. Photo by Nena Židov.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

of Culture. The representatives of the Coordinator maintain contact with institutions responsible
for the safeguarding of ICH abroad and participate in various professional conferences on ICH
in Slovenia and abroad.
The Coordinator’s working group that consists of ICH experts from different Slovene institutions (Ministry of Culture, regional museums, Institute of Slovene Ethnology, Institute of Ethnomusicology, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Slovene National Commission for
UNESCO, and other experts as required) meets three times annually to examine the initiatives for
inscription on the Register, as well as to consult the Coordinator and the Ministry of Culture about
the proclamation of ICH elements of special significance, and when making decisions concerning
applications to UNESCO lists.
As the National Coordinator, the museum contributes to raising public awareness about ICH.
In 2011, a website was set up (http://www.nesnovnadediscina.si/) to provide information on the
procedures for entering the Register, the activities of the Coordinator, current events, and publications on intangible cultural heritage. The content, available in English, includes short descriptions
and photographs of the elements entered in the Register, some of them accompanied by video
presentations. Most of them are created by our Department of Ethnographic Film. The museum
also promotes the Slovene ICH, particularly the elements and bearers inscribed in the Register and
the elements proclaimed to be of special national significance. In order to raise the profile of the
elements in the Register, the corporate image of the Coordinator also includes the logo of the
Register, which the bearers can use in their printed materials, websites, and products.
Elements with bearers inscribed in the Register have been also presented at museum exhibitions. Carnival groups were presented at the exhibition The Carnival Heritage of Slovenia in 2012
(Pukl, Valentinčič Furlan, and Židov 2012, 258–59) at the travelling exhibition Slavic Carnivals organised by the Forum of Slavic Cultures, first presented to a wider audience in June 2014 at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris (Rogelj Škafar et al. 2014) and later at the exhibition Pust ima veliko
obrazov (Carnival with many faces) in Ljubljana Puppet Theatre (2015). In 2012, the proclamation of
the ‘Traditional production of Carniolan sausages’, as intangible heritage of special national significance, was accompanied by a small exhibition about a butcher in Ljubljana who had been producing
Carniolan sausages between the two world wars (Dular 2013). Moreover, an exhibition entitled
Velikonočna dediščina Slovenije (The Easter heritage of Slovenia, 2013) presented elements related
to the celebration of Easter (‘Škofja Loka Passion play’, ‘Making Palm Sunday bunches in Ljubno’,
‘Easter games with Easter eggs’, ‘Making Bela Krajina Easter eggs’). In 2014, an exhibition Tradi-

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cionalno izdelovanje papirnatih rož (The traditional making of paper flowers) was shown, presenting
the producers of paper flowers and their products. In 2016, an exhibition Ribniško suhorobarstvo
(Ribnica woodenware, a craft connected with the making of useful wooden objects by hand) was
established. All elements inscribed in the Register by 2014 were presented at an exhibition entitled Nesnovna kulturna dediščina Slovenije skozi fotografijo (Slovenia’s intangible cultural heritage
through photographs).
Bearers of the ICH are also presented at various public events. For example, since 2013, we have
organised a tournament of the game pandolo on the Museum Square, involving the bearers of this
traditional activity (Zidarič 2014). During the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Convention, there was also a tasting of culinary goods at the museum, where visitors could also meet
the bearers of these elements of heritage (Jerin 2013). During the European Heritage Days in
2015, the museum, in cooperation with the Consortium of Slovenian Craftsmen Centres (Konzorcij
rokodelskih centrov Slovenije), organised the first Slovenski Rokodelski Festival (Festival of Slovene
crafts), which presented over 40 craftsmen from 9 craft centres in Slovenia.
In 2012, we published Priročnik o nesnovni kulturni dediščini (Handbook of intangible cultural
heritage) in order to inform the wide public about the basic terms related to ICH in light of the
UNESCO Convention and the related inventorying, documenting, safeguarding, preparing applications to UNESCO lists, and about the procedures for inscription on the national Register (Jerin,
Pukl, and Židov 2012). In the following year, a calendar with photographs of elements and bearers
inscribed in the Register in 2013 was issued; its copies were sent to all the bearers. In 2015,
the bilingual publication Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Slovenia (2008–2015) was
published in order to inform ICH experts from abroad about the elements inscribed in the Slovene
Register, to increase awareness of the importance of the ICH of Slovenia, and to encourage its
bearers to prepare applications for the Register. The publication presented 42 elements inscribed
in the Register from 2008 to August 2015, with short descriptions and photographs (Jerin and
Židov 2015).
The representatives of the Coordinator participate in professional gatherings connected with
ICH at home and abroad and also organise such events themselves. In 2012, the museum organised two panel discussions: on the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage at the local
and national levels, and on international visual research on carnivals (Pukl, Valentinčič Furlan, and
Židov 2012, 259–60). In 2013, we organised an international conference on the promotion of ICH
and published the conference proceedings in a bilingual publication (Jerin, Zidarič, and Židov

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

2014). In 2014, an international conference on documenting and presenting ICH on film was
subsequently organised and the proceedings were published in another bilingual publication
(Valentinčič Furlan 2015).
By the end of 2016, 56 elements had been entered in the Register (Ministrstvo za kulturo
2016), which itself has existed since 2008. The elements are listed in the following domains:
expressions and language (1), performing arts (6), social practices, rituals and festive events (22),
knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe (3), and traditional craftsmanship
(24). Eight elements were proclaimed as ICH of special national significance (‘Škofja Loka Passion
play’, ‘Shrovetide customs in Cerkno’, ‘Shrovetide in Drežnica and Drežniške Ravne’, ‘Making Palm
Sunday bunches in Ljubno’, ‘Traditional production of Carniolan sausages’, ‘Shrovetide rounds of
the Kurenti’, ‘Making Slovene bobbin lace’, ‘Making Idrija bobbin lace’). In 2016, the ‘Škofja Loka
Passion play’ was the first element from Slovenia to be inscribed on the UNESCO Representative
List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Final reflections
The Slovene Ethnographic Museum deals with ICH in two ways: by continuing its previous activities
in this area, and by dealing with ICH in the spirit of the UNESCO Convention and in its function
as Coordinator for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (Židov and Jerin 2015).
We think that ethnographic museums are suitable institutions for the safeguarding and promotion
of ICH, as such activities belong more or less organically to their regular scope of activities. Dealing
with ICH also gives us more opportunities for research, whilst also making us look with fresh eyes
at certain basic concepts, such as heritage and tradition, including their re-created and new kinds
(Židov 2014, 158). The Convention also requires us to navigate between politics and professional
disciplines (Knific 2010, 129–31).
Some specialists in Slovenia feel that there are unresolved issues related to ICH in the spirit
of the Convention and in connection with both the Slovene Register and legislation (Židov 2014;
Kunej 2015). We consider it very important to question the possible consequences of our decisions related to the elements, to the bearers in the field, to the considerations of certain elements
as suitable for inscribing on the Register, to the proclamation of ICH of special significance, and
to the decisions on preparing a nomination for inscription on the Representative List.

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Door-to-door rounds of Kurenti in Markovci, 2015. Photo by Nena Židov.

The making of trniči cheese on Velika planina, 2013. Photo by Nena Židov.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

The implementation of the UNESCO Convention is undeniably a great professional challenge
and represents an enormous responsibility towards the bearers of ICH. Perhaps not all specialists
involved are sufficiently aware of this responsibility. In addition, one serious problem in Slovenia
is the lack of adequately trained personnel. Since only one person in the museum is employed fulltime to deal with ICH in the spirit of the 2003 Convention, the required work could not possibly be
accomplished without the cooperation of museum curators. Moreover, a rather limited number
of people work in the field of ICH at the Ministry of Culture. We are thus of the opinion that the
work to bring inscriptions to UNESCO lists urgently requires additional personnel.
The Coordinator’s work so far has undoubtedly had an effect on the increased awareness
of the importance of ICH in Slovenia and of the elements and bearers included in the Register.
The bearers are also becoming increasingly interested in their elements being inscribed in the
Register or proclaimed as elements of national significance, as well as becoming involved in
applying for inscription on the UNESCO Representative List. Furthermore, intangible cultural
heritage is included in education and is the subject of a number of different projects. Many local
communities are already aware of the importance of their intangible heritage for the local identity and recognisability.

References
Čeplak Mencin, Ralf. 2004. “Neotipljiva kulturna dediščina: Unesco in etnografski muzeji [Intangible cultural
heritage: UNESCO and ethnographic museums].” Etnolog 14: 245–56.
Dular, Andrej. 2013. “Mesarstvo skozi osebne in obrtne dokumente ljubljanskega mesarja: Josip Rozman –
izdelovalec kranjskih klobas med svetovnima vojnama [The butcher trade in the light of personal and trade
documents of a Ljubljana butcher: Josip Rozman – maker of Carniola sausages between the two world wars].”
Etnolog 23: 407–12.
Jerin, Anja. 2013. “Obeležitev 10. obletnice Unescove Konvencije o varovanju nesnovne kulturne dediščine v Sloveniji
[Celebration of the 10th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage of Slovenia].” Glasnik Slovenskega etnološkega društva 53 (1–2): 121–22.
Jerin, Anja, Adela Pukl, and Nena Židov, eds. 2012. Priročnik o nesnovni kulturni dediščini [Handbook of intangible
cultural heritage]. Ljubljana: Slovenski etnografski muzej.

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Jerin, Anja, Tjaša Zidarič, and Nena Židov, eds. 2014. Promocija nesnovne kulturne dediščine: ob deseti obletnici Unescove Konvencije / Promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage: The 10th Anniversary of the UNESCO Convention.
Ljubljana: Slovenski etnografski muzej.
Jerin, Anja, and Nena Židov, eds. 2015. Register žive kulturne dediščine Slovenije (2008–2015) / Register of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Slovenia (2008–2015). Ljubljana: Slovenski etnografski muzej.
Knific, Bojan. 2010. “Folkloriziranje plesnega izročila: prostorske, časovne in družbene razsežnosti ljudskih in folklornih plesov [Folklorisation of the dance heritage: Spatial, temporal, and social dimensions of folk and folkloric
dances].” Etnolog 20: 115–34.
Kovačec Naglič, Ksenija. 2012. “Sistem varstva žive kulturne dediščine v Sloveniji [The system of protection of the
intangible cultural heritage in Slovenia].” In Priročnik o nesnovni kulturni dediščini [Handbook of intangible cultural
heritage], edited by Anja Jerin, Adela Pukl, and Nena Židov, 15–19. Ljubljana: Slovenski etnografski muzej.
Koželj, Zvezda. 2005. “Nesnovna kulturna dediščina in njeno varstvo [Intangible cultural heritage and its protection].” In Nesnovna kulturna dediščina [Intangible cultural heritage], edited by Damjana Prešeren and Nataša
Gorenc, 8–12. Ljubljana: Zavod za varstvo kulturne dediščine Slovenije.
Križnar, Naško, ed. 2008. Register nesnovne dediščine kot del enotnega registra kulturne dediščine: zaključno poročilo
[The Register of Intangible Heritage as part of the Register of Cultural Heritage: Final report]. http://www.
mk.gov.si/fileadmin/mk.gov.si/pageuploads/Ministrstvo/raziskave-analize/dediscina/CRP_register_nesnovne_
dediscine_2008-10-15.pdf.
Kunej, Rebeka. 2015. “Tanec a klobása – hmotná forma nehmotného kulturního dědictví, nebo naopak (Slovinské
zkušenosti) [Dance and sausages: The tangible form of intangible cultural heritage or vice versa (Slovenian
experience)].” Národopisná revue 25 (3): 283–90.
Ministrstvo za kulturo. 2016. “Seznam registriranih enot nesnovne kulturne dediščine [List of registered elements
of intangible cultural heritage].” Accessed October 23. http://www.mk.gov.si/si/storitve/razvidi_evidence_in_
registri/register_nesnovne_kulturne_dediscine/seznam/.
Prešeren, Damjana, and Nataša Gorenc, eds. 2005. Nesnovna kulturna dediščina [Intangible cultural heritage].
Ljubljana: Zavod za varstvo kulturne dediščine Slovenije.
Pukl, Adela, Nadja Valentinčič Furlan, and Nena Židov. 2012. “Carnival king of Europe II: partnersko sodelovanje SEM
v mednarodnem projektu [Carnival King of Europe II: SEM partnership in the international project].” Etnolog 22:
255–60.
Rogelj Škafar, Bojana, Nina Zdravič Polič, Nena Židov, Adela Pukl, and Anja Jerin. 2014. “Slovenia / Slovenija.”
In Slavic Carnivals: Feasts Connect the People, edited by Andreja Rihter, 108–15. Ljubljana: Forum of Slavic
Cultures.

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Slavec Gradišnik, Ingrid. 2004. “Mednarodni dan muzejev v Slovenskem etnografskem muzeju [International
Museum Day at the Slovene Ethnographic Museum].” Etnolog 14: 260–66.
Smerdel, Inja. 2003. “Smo stari ali mladi? [Are we old or young?].” Etnolog 13: 23–26.
Smrke, Franc, and Ingrid Slavec Gradišnik, trans. 2004. “Besednjak neopredmetene kulturne dediščine [Glossary
of the intangible cultural heritage].” Etnolog 14: 267–71.
Valentinčič Furlan, Nadja, ed. 2015. Dokumentiranje in predstavljanje nesnovne kulturne dediščine s filmom / Documenting and Presenting Intangible Cultural Heritage on Film. Ljubljana: Slovenski etnografski muzej.
Zdravič Polič, Nina. 2004. “Slovenski etnografski muzej in Unescova konvencija o varstvu neopredmetene kulturne
dediščine [Slovene Ethnographic Museum and the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage].” Etnolog 14: 257–59.
Zidarič, Tjaša. 2014. “Pandolo: prijateljski turnir v tradicionalni istrski igri pred Slovenskim etnografskim muzejem
[Pandolo: A friendly tournament in the traditional Istrian game in front of the Slovene Ethnographic Museum].”
Etnolog 24: 275–78.
Židov, Nena. 2014. “Nesnovna kulturna dediščina Slovenije: dileme v zvezi z njenim varovanjem v luči Unescove
konvencije [The intangible cultural heritage of Slovenia: Dilemmas relating to their protection in the spirit of
the UNESCO Convention].” In Interpretacije dediščine [Heritage interpretations], edited by Tatjana Dolžan Eržen,
Ingrid Slavec Gradišnik, and Nadja Valentinčič Furlan, 150–61. Ljubljana: Slovensko etnološko društvo.
Židov, Nena, and Anja Jerin. 2015. “Promotion of the intangible cultural heritage at the Slovene Ethnographic
Museum.” In Sharing Cultures 2015: Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Intangible Heritage, Lagos,
Portugal, 21–23 September, edited by Sérgio Lira, Rogério Amoêda, and Cristina Pinhero, 329–35. Barcelos:
Green Lines Institute for Sustainable Development.

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Networks of intangible
cultural heritage experts
in Hungary
Eszter Csonka-Takács*

*

Ethnographer, Director, Directorate of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Hungarian Open Air Museum (Szellemi Kulturális Örökség
Igazgatóság, Szabadtéri Néprajzi Múzeum), Szentendre, Hungary, PhD, email: csonka-takacs.eszter@sznm.hu.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

The database can be joined by anybody because it is believed that every
individual willing to help – whether to assist the communities or to spread
the word making the principles of the Convention 2003 more visible
– can be very important in the entire process of implementation.

In order to identify, document, and develop a tailor-made system of local safeguarding and preservation of intangible cultural heritage elements, as well as facilitate their promotion, transmission
and access, the cooperation and efforts of experts are crucial.
Different networks were established on the national level by the body responsible for implementing the safeguarding tasks nationally – the Directorate of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the
Hungarian Open Air Museum1 – such as the Network of Experts. The realisation of its tasks is locally
facilitated by the County Coordinators.
The Hungarian Open Air Museum (Skanzen), as an integrated institution of heritage protection, is able to realise the collection, documentation, archivisation, and the functional interpretation of tangible-built-intangible heritage, and at the same time raise questions.2 The Skanzen
possesses a diversified civil and professional network (see Káldy and Nagyné Batári 2014 for
details), moreover, it functions as a well-working knowledge centre, with its functions spanning
from giving folk architectural advice to training teachers and museum managers. In such circumstances, a community and a professional network related to intangible cultural heritage have
emerged.
Their main purposes are to raise awareness on the importance of safeguarding the ICH, to make
the principles of the Convention 2003 more visible, to foster the exchange of different herit-

1

For information about the Directorate, see Csonka-Takács 2010, 48.

2

For more information about the Skanzen, see: skanzen.hu/en.

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Dr. Eszter Csonka-Takács in the panel with Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska and Dr. Velika Stojkova Serafimovska
(on her right) and with Vanda Illés and Professor Jacek Purchla, the chair of the panel, on the left, October 2016.
Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

age-safeguarding measures and strategies, and to attract the widest possible public attention
towards the importance of cultural diversity.3

Organisational structure
The involvement and active participation of competent experts in a wide range of fields are
essential for implementing and achieving the diverse tasks regarding the safeguarding and
preservation of intangible cultural heritage elements. Each expert contributes to and participates in the realisation of specific tasks according to his or her own localisation, field and area
of expertise. The coordination of locally participating experts in various fields and the fulfilment of the state’s obligations regarding the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage
of the country, as prescribed in the UNESCO 2003 Convention, can be greatly facilitated by
the existence and operation of a well-organised network of experts. ‘Implementation could
be helped by a network of researchers, cultural experts and representatives of NGOs’ (Csonka-Takács 2010, 50).

Voluntary Network of Experts
In Hungary, the Network of Experts is a database of individuals, groups, and organisations involved
in the field of intangible cultural heritage at the local level. The establishment and operation
of this wide-ranging network draw upon the existing networks of non-governmental organisations
together with networks of scientific, educational, and cultural institutions and their active, locally
operating members. The Network of Experts includes members of non-governmental cultural
organisations; individuals working in centres of culture, research and education; as well as those
managing museums and public collections competent in any of the various domains of intangible
cultural heritage; at the same time, it possesses a comprehensive knowledge of the given community or region, its attributes and cultural life.

3

Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Paris, 17 October 2003, art. 13 (available online: www.
unesco.org/culture/ich/en/convention).

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The network includes:
1. scientific experts (researchers, museologists, educators, university students): university departments and institutions, museums and research centres;
2. membership of relevant non-governmental organisations nationally: folk art associations,
revival heritage groups, homeland interest groups, settlement preservation associations;
3. cultural experts (culture managers, exhibit and public collections and archive managers and
educators): culture centres, archives, art schools.
Experts are directly involved in the heritage safeguarding work of individual bearer communities or regions by contributing to the identification, mapping, and inventorying of the local heritage
elements, promoting the development and implementation of strategies for the safeguarding of
such elements, encouraging communities to propose elements for the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Szellemi Kulturális Örökség Nemzeti Jegyzéke), and providing guidance and
direction throughout the nomination process, providing information and raising awareness at the
local level, as well as encouraging and assisting the development of local educational programmes
to promote particular elements.
The database can be joined by anybody because it is believed that every individual willing
to help – whether to assist the communities or to spread the word making the principles of the
Convention 2003 more visible – can be very important in the entire process of implementation.
A form has to be filled out by each expert, stating their field of expertise and contact details,
which they agree to place on a publicly accessible database. This database is on the website of
ICH in Hungary, maintained by the Directorate of ICH in the Skanzen.4 The communities interested in nominating an element and groups organising an event can freely search for a suitable
expert suitable.

County Coordinators
The Directorate relies on the mediating work of county rapporteurs. The Skanzen created this
professional network based on the institutions of the county museum system to coordinate and
facilitate the promotion, the awareness-raising, and to give professional guidance to the commu4

See: szellemikulturalisorokseg.hu/index0.php?name=szakmai_halozat_tagok.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

nities. By selecting an expert – most commonly an ethnographer5 – from each county, a group
of professionals has been formed, which helps in mediating information, informing and looking
up communities, and preparing the nomination document. They provide professional advice for
interested communities and organise orientation forums with the participation of the Directorate, facilitating contact between the involved parties. The tasks of the County Coordinators are
to initiate and coordinate the documentation of intangible cultural heritage elements in their
counties and regions, to organise local forums and meetings, to transmit information to communities, to provide professional counseling to affected communities, to link the communities with
the network of experts, and to maintain continuous contact with the Directorate of ICH.
The Directorate provides regular training and informational sessions for the County Coordinators and also organises 2–3 meetings annually to exchange ideas and experiences and to coordinate specific tasks.
Heritage elements included in the National Inventory in the latest years are one of the great
examples of the hard work of the county rapporteurs.6

References
Csonka-Takács, Eszter. 2010. “The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Service
of our Living and Surviving Tradition – Tasks and Opportunities in Hungary.” In Sustainable Heritage. Symposium
on European Intangible Cultural Heritage, Budapest, April 23–24, 2010, edited by Mihály Hoppál, 45–50. Budapest:
European Folklore Institute.
Káldy, Mária, and Zsuzsanna Nagyné Batári. 2014. “The Hungarian Open Air Museum and its Communities.” In Exhibit
Your Culture. Community Learning in Museums and Cultural Organizations, edited by Aniko Korenchy-Misz and
Nikki Lindsey, 85–94. Budapest: CETAID Partnership.

5

The list of members of the coordinators is available online: szellemikulturalisorokseg.hu/index0.php?name=f41_megyei_
referensek.

6

For elements inscribed on the National Inventory, see: szellemikulturalisorokseg.hu/index0_en.php?name=en_f22_elements.

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Intangible cultural heritage
in the system of cultural
heritage protection
in Poland
Katarzyna Zalasińska*

*

Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Warsaw (Wydział Prawa i Administracji Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego),
Warsaw, Poland, post-doctoral degree, e-mail: kasiazasinska@op.pl.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

… an integrated approach to safeguarding is not only possible but in fact
desirable. Sometimes by protecting the tangible heritage (for instance,
certain landscape designs), we can simultaneously protect intangible
heritage as well (for instance, specific practices related to that particular
place). Hence, the preservation of the landscape including its natural
environment is a prerequisite for the protection of heritage.

UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage laid out in Paris on 17 October
2003,1 entered into force in Poland on 16 August 2011. By submitting the ratification documents, Poland
became the 135th state that acceded to it. It is worth noticing, however, that intangible heritage had
already been included in the system of protection of cultural heritage in Poland before. There had not
been a law however that would be dedicated exclusively to the protection of intangible cultural heritage
neither before 2011 nor after the ratification of the Convention. The subject of this article is to signal the
place of intangible heritage in the system of the safeguarding of cultural heritage in Poland.
We should start by noticing that the legal framework for the protection of cultural heritage
in Poland, both tangible and intangible, should be seen, above all, in the context of the Constitution
of the Republic of Poland of 2 April 1997.2 It contains a direct reference to the issue of protection of
national heritage (Article 5 of the Constitution), cultural heritage (Article 6 section 2 of the Constitution) and cultural goods (Article 6 sections 1 and 73 of the Constitution). Legal protection of cultural
heritage is based on the preamble and the provisions of Articles 5, 6, and 73 of the Constitution.
In the official introduction to the Constitution, we can read:
… beholden to our ancestors for their labours, their struggle for independence achieved at great sacrifice,
for our culture rooted in the Christian heritage of the Nation and in universal human values, recalling the best
traditions of the First and Second Republic, obliged to bequeath to future generations [emphasis mine – K.Z.]
all that is valuable from over one thousand years’ heritage …
1

Dziennik Ustaw [Journal of Laws] 2011 no. 172 item 1018, 8 February 2011.

2

Dziennik Ustaw 1997 no. 78 item 483, 2 April 1997.

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Professor Katarzyna Zalasińska, Professor Magdalena Gawin and Professor Jacek Purchla during the Forum,
October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

The preamble thus refers to the value of cultural heritage and points out the primary purpose
of its protection: preserving it in the best possible condition and passing it on to future generations. The precise specification of the matter that is indicated in the preamble as protected is made
in the above-mentioned Article 5 of the Constitution: ‘The Republic of Poland shall safeguard the
independence and integrity of its territory and ensure the freedoms and rights of persons and citizens, the security of citizens, safeguard the national heritage and shall ensure the protection of the
natural environment, pursuant to the principles of sustainable development’, in Article 6 section 1:
‘The Republic of Poland shall provide conditions for the people’s equal access to the products of
culture which are the source of Nation’s identity, continuity and development’, and section 2: ‘The
Republic of Poland shall provide assistance to citizens of Poland living abroad in maintaining their
links with the national cultural heritage’.
Article 5 of the Constitution, which states that the Republic of Poland safeguards national
heritage, thus defines it as one of the basic objectives of the state. Furthermore, the clarification
of the role of heritage is provided in the Article 6 of the Constitution, which states the obligation
of making it available to the public and ensuring equal access to it. The State is also obliged to
provide this access to citizens of Poland residing abroad to assist them in keeping ties with it.
Article 6 of the Constitution refers to a broader category than Article 5, as it speaks about the
dissemination and provision of cultural goods, and not merely ‘safeguarding’ it, i.e. the concern for
preservation to an undiminished degree.
Articles 5 and 6 of the Constitution should be seen as general provisions of the axiological
standard, which set out the basic and inalienable tasks of the state. Thus, it should be recognised
that, in the light of the provisions of the Basic Law, the constitutional obligation of the State is
to create conditions for the proper performance of tasks related to the protection of cultural
heritage, including its material and non-material creations. At the same time, Articles 5 and 6 of
the Constitution do not provide grounds to limit the scope of these provisions only to the material heritage. Therefore, they constitute a directive for an inclusive perception of all elements of
heritage, and thus should logically exclude fragmentation of the safeguarding systems, though
this fragmentation is observable in international law (Schreiber 2016, 391–94). This means that the
protection of the intangible heritage is grounded in the Constitution.
On the statutory level, there are no regulations in Poland directly dedicated to the protection
of intangible cultural heritage. Nevertheless, this issue is inscribed in the activities focused on the
protection of monuments and the activities of cultural institutions, particularly museums. Above all,

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the protection of the intangible heritage is embedded in the mission statement of museums,
as defined in Article 1 of the Museums act, dated 21 November 1996:3
The museum is a non-profit organisational unit that aims at collecting and continuously protecting the
material and immaterial goods constituting the natural and cultural heritage of mankind; informing
about the values and contents of collections; disseminating knowledge on the fundamental values of
the history, science and culture of Poland and the World; shaping cognitive and aesthetic sensitivity; and
facilitating the use of the gathered collections.

Of course, the activities of museums, as explicitly stated in Article 2 of the Museums act, focus
mainly on collecting, cataloguing, researching, storing, and ensuring security and maintenance,
but it is also worth mentioning the other tasks through which museums carry out their mission:
• arranging permanent and temporary exhibitions;
• organising research activities and scientific expeditions, including archaeological explorations;
• conducting educational activities;
• supporting and promoting artistic and cultural dissemination activities;
• making collections available for educational and scientific purposes.
Particular attention should be paid to the task of dissemination of culture, which enables the
museum to go beyond its classical framework and become an institution of remembrance that
actively engages in social processes, thus strengthening the protection of heritage, especially its
intangible manifestations. Thus, rather than remaining mere guardians of collections that record
the identity of past generations, the museums have begun to play an important role in the field
of education, as well as in promoting and pursuing artistic activity and facilitating the spread of
culture. It is partly due to the fact that they have started filling the gaps in areas where the activities of other institutions (e.g. schools, cultural centres) have weakened or in some places disappeared. It should also be noted that museums, despite their unquestionable financial problems,
have built an extremely strong position within the framework of protection of cultural heritage
in Poland, taking on tasks far beyond their usual scope of duties.
Another element of the system of safeguarding cultural heritage that affects the protection of intangible heritage in Poland is the regulation concerning the protection of monuments.
It should be recalled that according to Article 2 of the Convention, the concept ‘intangible
3

Dziennik Ustaw 1997 no. 5 item 24 with further changes.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

cultural heritage’ includes ‘practices, ideas, messages, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces related to them’, thus material objects, often corresponding to the legal definition of a monument, defined in the glossary in Article 3 of the Monuments protection and preservation act, dated 23 July 2003:4
immovable or movable property, parts or assemblies thereof, created by humans or related to human
activity and constituting the testimony of past times or events, the preservation of which is in the public
interest due to its historical, artistic and scientific value.

Furthermore, the Article 6 of this Act further clarifies that movable monuments are, in
particular, musical instruments, folk art and handicraft products as well as other ethnographic
objects, the preservation of which is an important condition for transmitting the non-material
heritage to future generations.
There is also no doubt that the protection of intangible heritage is also affected by another
element of the system of cultural heritage protection in Poland: the phenomena of intangible
heritage that are inscribed in specific cultural landscapes. In such cases, an integrated approach
to safeguarding is not only possible but in fact desirable. Sometimes by protecting the tangible
heritage (for instance, certain landscape designs), we can simultaneously protect intangible
heritage as well (for instance, specific practices related to that particular place). Hence, the
preservation of the landscape including its natural environment is a prerequisite for the protection of heritage. It is worth mentioning here that the Monuments protection and preservation
act introduces the form of legal protection of the cultural landscape in Poland, understood as
‘human-perceived space, containing natural elements and products of civilisation, historically
shaped by natural factors and human activities’ (Article 3 clause 14 of the Act). Municipal councils may, in fact, create cultural parks to preserve the cultural landscapes and to preserve the
distinctive landscape areas with immovable monuments characteristic of the local building and
settlement traditions (Article 16 section 1 of the Act).
The restrictions pointed in the Act that pertain to the territories of cultural parks, allow
a harmonious shaping of the landscape which respects the tangible but also the intangible
heritage in a given area. Notwithstanding, the Monuments protection and preservation act
provides protection of historical landscape designs through listing them in the register of monuments. An example of a protected monument as a landscape covering numerous architectural
4

Dziennik Ustaw 2003 no. 162 item 1568 with further changes

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objects is Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, listed in 1999 in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is worth
recalling that in the justification of the entry, we can read:
Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is a unique monument of culture, in which the cultural landscape serves as
a framework for the symbolic representation of the Passion of Christ in the form of chapels and alleys.
Thus, it is a cultural landscape of great beauty and great spiritual value in which the elements of nature
and those of human creation beautifully harmonise. Counter-reformation at the end of the 16th century
led to creating many such designs in Europe. Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is a unique example of this type
of landscape on a large scale; it integrates natural beauty, spiritual goals and the concept of an ideal
Baroque park5.

This entry was a sign of an idea emerging in UNESCO of an integrated approach to heritage
protection. Taking into consideration the religious practices performed in this place as an intangible element and linking it with material heritage, it indicates a desirable direction for thinking
about landscape as a type of cultural space that is complemented by elements of intangible
heritage.
A further sub-system of protection of cultural heritage in Poland that is strengthening the
conditions for the protection of the intangible cultural heritage comprises of the activities of
libraries and archives, understood as institutions of remembrance in accordance with UNESCO
Recommendation Concerning the Preservation of, and Access to, Documentary Heritage Including in
Digital Form, which was adopted during the 38th session of UNESCO General Conference (Paris,
3–18 November 2015). Documentary heritage resources provide the means for understanding
social, political, collective as well as personal history and culture. The activity of libraries and
archives can, therefore, strengthen intergenerational transmission.
Ensuring the effective protection of the intangible heritage in Poland is a significant challenge,
and in its nature, it is a problem of changing the philosophy of protection than of significant legislative changes. In fact, it is necessary to change the approach to the duties related to protection,
which requires primarily an understanding of the specifics of intangible heritage, for which the
main form of expression is, in fact, the human being. The ephemeral and elusive nature of intangible heritage is a result of this, and thus its preservation is limited by human memory. This brings
the need for a continuous transmission of this heritage to succeeding communities, groups and
individuals. Therefore, even though intangible heritage is inscribed in the system of protection of
cultural heritage in Poland, the principles of its functioning still require change and improvement.
5

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/905.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

References
Schreiber, Hanna. 2016. “Patrymonializacja w stosunkach międzynarodowych. Wybrane tendencje w międzynarodowej ochronie dziedzictwa kulturowego (2006–2016) [Patrimonialisation in international relations. Selected
tendencies in international cultural heritage safeguarding (2006–2016)].” In Tendencje i procesy rozwojowe
współczesnych stosunków międzynarodowych [Tendencies and developmental processes of contemporary
international relations], edited by Marcin Florian Gawrycki et al., 385–98. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe
Scholar.

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What do we mean when
we say ICH? Or does the
Galičnik wedding constitute
‘intangible cultural
heritage’?
Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska*

*

Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Macedonia, Cultural Heritage Protection Office (Ministerstvo za kultura na Republika
Makedonija, Uprava za zaštita na kulturnoto nasledstvo), Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, Mr.Sc.,
e-mail: itatarcevska@gmail.com.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

Because cultural practices can sustain imagined or imaginary meanings
from past generations, they – together with the authenticities they claim
to carry – are always at risk of becoming redefined in the service of state
ideologies and commercial interests.

Even though the political elites have recognised the significance of the 2003 Paris Convention for
the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and have been prompt in having it translated
and ratified, the Macedonian Law on the protection of cultural heritage1 has still not been adapted
in terms of terminology and definitions regarding intangible cultural heritage.
The debate on terminology is still ongoing and has reached the level of specific public initiatives,
such as the question of expanding the definition of intangible heritage in Macedonia, or the question of what types/genres of culture(s) is/are included or excluded in this system. We have reached
a certain level of maturity and awareness on the national level, but still face a number of serious
challenges. We lack specific, focused policies, as well as activities and measures regarding this type
of heritage, especially initiatives from five scholarly institutions which are authorised to safeguard
intangible cultural heritage. Unfortunately, the community of experts is still struggling with starting-point questions, such as: what is living heritage? Or: should we safeguard the intangible culture
that is somewhat hibernating in the collective memory and is not actively practised by the communities, even if there is still an awareness of its existence? What of the practices that have been already
‘heritagised’, such as the Galičnik wedding, or others that have been ‘festivalised’, professionalised,
and commercialised? Although it is debatable whether the Galičnik wedding is ‘living’ or ‘frozen’,
it seems that the ritual is being stewarded, albeit by the local council, in ways that support interests
and ideologies of the state and corporate entities with which the state has commercial relationships.
1

Zakon za zaštita na kulturnoto nasledstvo, Služben vesnik na Republika Makedonija [Official Gazette of the Republic
of Macedonia] no. 20, 2 April 2004.

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Coca Cola in the Galičnik wedding ritual ‘Sharing the pogacha (ritual bread)’, 2017, © AEGEE-Skopje.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

The Galičnik wedding is a commercialised village ritual that has been transformed, reconstructed, and ‘festivalised’ from an ordinary, everyday-life wedding ritual complex. It has become
a singular performance through which a cultural practice has been fashioned into a national symbol.
In its current iteration, it blurs the boundary between state and corporate-sponsored ritual, and
between tourist festival, staged folklore, and life-cycle event. Here, I am arguing that on the one
hand, the institutionalised systems of safeguarding ICH are always embedded in and affected by
political processes of heritagisation and recontextualisation, but on the other hand, the ways that
these processes affect the cultural practices vary greatly in degree and manner even in the same
national context.
The Galičnik wedding festivity is organised every year in the village of Galičnik in the Mijak region
in western Macedonia. Currently, the Macedonian Ministry of Culture and about twenty corporate
entities sponsor the two-day festival. Centring on the wedding of an actual couple with family roots
in Galičnik, the festival features its families, friends, and volunteers performing detailed wedding
rituals and wearing traditional costumes and traditional items passed down from relatives or other
families from Galičnik. Hundreds of visitors, mostly Macedonians (but some foreigners as well),
attend the wedding each year. The public and most Macedonians view it as an ‘authentic’ and
nationally important practice of rural Macedonian folk culture.
The Galičnik wedding became a state-sponsored reconstruction of the traditional wedding
that emphasised the distinct ethnic Macedonian heritage in the period of the Socialist Republic
of Macedonia. It was launched as a reenactment in 1974 by the local council (mesna zaednica) of
the village of Galičnik. This organisation remains responsible for acquiring funds for the wedding
and its annual organisation. The changing nature of the festival became apparent during the 1980s
and 1990s. A hotel built in 1980 on the western edge of the village also supported and confirmed
its status as a tourist destination.
In 1991, a competition was held to select a young couple to be married at the event and has
been organised annually since then. The competition transformed the wedding from a complete
re-enactment to the marriage of an actual couple – with the primary (if not the only) change being
the introduction of the wedding ceremony performed in the church. The wedding had thus been
subject to state-supported processes of heritagisation and festivalisation for several decades. This
demonstrates how earlier processes of recontextualisation have resulted in a reconstruction of the
local tradition as a symbol of national identity in the form of a tourist festival, sustained by a local
council of part-time residents in partnership with an event-planning firm. For purposes of tourism,

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the Galičnik Wedding is constructed as ‘intangible culture’, though it fails to meet the UNESCO
definitions of ICH. We argue that the state and commercial sponsors are in a way ‘safeguarding’ the
Galičnik wedding by ensuring its continuation every year through this state sponsored ritual. This
commodification effect is clear in the case of the Galičnik wedding, as Macedonian tourists come
to the village to consume a musical and ritual experience of their national identity, an experience
that is often visceral and emotional. I am not suggesting that the Galičnik wedding is not meaningful, important, or significant to its participants. On the contrary, its significance to Macedonians
serves not only as a vehicle for representing historical understandings of oppressed Macedonian
people but is also often experienced as a symbolic expression of the process of safeguarding ICH
in Macedonia. Past and present political and economic processes connected to ICH should always
be carefully considered, especially when they are not as clear as in the case of the Galičnik wedding.
Because these cultural practices can sustain imagined or imaginary meanings from past generations, they – together with the authenticities they claim to carry – are always at risk of becoming
redefined in the service of state ideologies and commercial interests. Therefore we, as scholars
engaging in ICH from all possible perspectives, in the face of such consequences need to claim the
ethical and moral responsibility to continue asking which elements of ICH are to be safeguarded
and why.

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‘World is sacred’ worldview
as an element of intangible
cultural heritage in the
modern world
Vida Šatkauskienė*

*

Deputy Director, head of the Department of Ethnic Culture of the Lithuanian National Culture Centre (Lietuvos nacionalinis
kultūros centras), Vilnius, Lithuania, e-mail: satkauskiene@lnkc.lt.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

… the bearers preserve not only a great number of local songs, dances,
stories, customs, but also – which is crucial – the principles of the relation
between the human and the world…

We, the people, endanger ourselves and the world: consumption, exploitation of natural sources,
a variety of conflicts – it all leads to a deadlock.
In the search for ways to survive and remain positive, the intangible cultural heritage (ICH) can
contribute to modern environmentalist and ecological movements by encouraging people to care
about their surroundings and avoid consumerism by engaging in sustainable development practices and exploring their cultural heritage (literature, art, theatre, cinema, etc.).
All manifestations of ICH are important. However, in today’s world, it is perhaps the most crucial
to distinguish them and join efforts to develop the essence of every tradition – together with its
worldview and outlook towards life. The core viewpoint of traditional cultures is the dimension of
sacredness, which constitutes the world and existence. Everything that exists – both the visible and
the invisible, including human beings and their presence – is sacred.
Perhaps it is a risky topic, however, in my opinion, anyone who had carefully studied their own
and other people’s cultural heritage has experienced the concept of the sacredness of this world.
There are many academic and scientific publications that analyse the notion of sacredness (sacre,
sacrum, sanctum, etc.) from the perspective of religious studies, ethnology, mythology, psychology,
and other related fields, including the analysis of the detachment of sacrum and its manifestations
(hierophanies) from the everyday phenomena that constitute the sphere of profanum; or vice versa –
the claim that the division between the sacrum and profanum is absent; or other various approaches
to nature of sacrum and its irrational character, experiencing sacrum, or answering the question
whether it is feasible to describe the experience using language (Beresnevičius 2004a, 2004b, 2004c,

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Vida Šatkauskienė, with Professor Cai Hua during the Forum, October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek,
© National Heritage Board of Poland.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

2004d, 2004e, 2005a, 2005b; Daujotytė 2016; Eliade 1996, 1997; Otto 1923; Račiūnaitė-Vyčinienė
1997; Vaitkevičius 2009, 2016). There is no need to develop a theoretical discourse here – it is more
important to point out some aspects that attempt to tackle the problem at hand.
First of all, when we consider the experience of field research, it should be noted that the
personal contacts with the bearers of traditions that the ICH field researchers engage in frequently
result in a realisation that the cultural artefacts and the immaterial links that tie the generations
of people with their environment through traditions are in fact living phenomena, or at least they
are remembered as such. We can also observe that the bearers preserve not only a great number
of local songs, dances, stories, customs (that in turn preserve beliefs, mythical notions, remains of
ritual practices, etc.), but also – which is crucial – the principles of the relation between the human
and the world, and respectively, human behaviour.1
Through years of various activities with my colleagues at the Lithuanian National Culture
Centre (Lietuvos nacionalinis kultūros centras, or LNCC)2 and preparations for my weekly
radio programmes Ryto rasa krito (The morning dew fell),3 I have been exploring the essential
matters of the traditional outlook and worldview and discovering that the world, together
with even its tiniest elements, contains the primal cosmos – a harmonious model of the human
being, home, nature; the micro- and macro-cosmos alike; and all aspects of being – including
the past and the present – are linked by mental, symbolic, and mythical connections; finally,
that a human being is an organic part of the world. I would like to stress that holiness manifests
in many ways: as the beginning of life, spirit, interchanging life and death – here and beyond;
the revelation of the eternity and the universe; as power; the gods’ and ancestors’ participation in everyday life, etc.
1

A villager’s relation with his environment was discussed during seminars held in 2012 by the Institute of Inherent Culture
(Prigimtinės kultūros institutas) in Lithuania: ‘Vietos ir žmonės’ (‘Places and people’, prigimtine.lt/lt/seminarai/ii-seminaras/
programa) on 3–4 March and ‘Vieta ir erdvė: suvokti, įsibūti, komunikuoti’ (‘Place and space: comprehending, getting
familiar and communicating’, prigimtine.lt/lt/seminarai/iii-seminaras/programa) on 29 June – 2 July. It was also analysed by
other scholars in their papers: Vykintas Vaitkevičius (2012), Viktorija Daujotytė-Pakerienė (Daujotytė 2012, 2013), and Daiva
Vaitkevičienė (2012).

2

In 1998, the LNCC initiated interdisciplinary conference cycles ‘Gimtis. Būtis. Mirtis. Pasaulėžiūros ir pasaulėjautos aspektai’
(Birth. Existence. Death. Aspects of attitude and worldview) and held conferences: ‘Gimties samprata tradicinėje kultūroje’ (The
concept of birth from perspectives of traditional culture) in 1998, ‘Lyčių samprata tradicinėje kultūroje’ (Gender conceptions
in traditional culture) in 1999, ‘Žmogaus samprata tradicinėje kultūroje’ (The concept of a human being in traditional culture)
in 2000, ‘Žmogus ir gyvenamoji aplinka’ (A human being and his cultural environment) in 2006. From 1996 onwards LNCC has
held annual themed theoretical and practical seminars for Lithuanian ethnic culture specialists. It also publishes the ethnic
culture journal „Liaudies kultūra” (Folk culture), and many series of books, DVDs, CDs, and electronic books Gyvoji tradicija
(Living tradition), etc.

3

The radio can be accessed online via the mediatheque of the Lithuanian National Radio and Television (Lietuvos nacionalinis
radijas ir televizija): www.lrt.lt/mediateka/irasai#/content/ryto%20rasa%20krito.

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

In many places and cultural spaces such as Lithuania, there are rivers, lakes, mountains, stones,
and other objects of nature and landscape that are considered sacred.4 It is said that the earth is
sacred,5 the fire is holy,6 and that the notion of the mother is sacred.7 There is also a sacred time
when people find themselves in a transformative point in their lives; it can be a year, a month, or
a day and night (time is believed to hold various powers depending on the sun’s position in the sky
or the phase of the moon).
These are the most common examples, yet it seems that in every phenomenon, we can find
these manifestations of holiness. For example, even a drop of dew (I personally like this symbol very
much) reflects the primal essence of light and darkness; of life and destruction, since it contains
both the features of the sun and the night (Šatkauskienė 2009). The flora and fauna are believed
to speak in the name of the eternity as prophets, e.g. cuckoos and wolves8 (Racėnaitė 2011, 315);
as teachers (bees9); as guardians; as incarnations of the ancestors, gods and spirits; as messengers and habitats (Beresnevičius 1990, 214). Moreover, let us consider the stone – a symbol of the
4

‘Holy’ in Lithuanian is šventas. Many names of places contain the full word or its root švent-, for example, Šventežeris (holy
lake) in Lazdijai region, Šventkalnis (holy mountain) in Šilalė region, Šventragis (holy headland) – a village in Marijampolė region,
Šventas akmuo (holy stone) in Pugainiai village in the Vilnius region, the river Šventoji in East Lithuania – the biggest tributary
of the Neris, Šventupis (holy river) in Šiauliai region, and many others.

5

The holiness of the Earth is a constant feature of the agricultural life. This notion prevails in various Lithuanian sayings, e.g.
‘How can the holy ground still carry you!’ (Kaip da tave šventà žemelė nešioja!, it is used while addressing a bad person); riddles,
where the answer is the Earth or the Ground, e.g. ‘It has always been and will be holy, but it has never been and will never
be in heaven’ (Šventa buvo ir bus, bet danguje nebuvo ir nebus). The examples are taken from the Dictionary of the Lithuanian
Language (Lietuvių kalbos institutas 2005). One of the most significant expressions of the respectful relationship with the
Earth is kissing the ground before or after work, or before or instead of prayers, e.g. ‘Whether you kiss the ground or the
body of Christ, the Church festival will be good’ (Ar žemę pabučiuosi, ar mūkelę, tai lygūs bus atlaidai); ‘After the prayer one
[should] kiss the ground and bow, then touch the ground with the forehead three times’ (Po maldos [reikia] žemutę pabučiuot
ir pasikloniot, kaktą prie žemės triskart priglaust); ‘The Earth is sacred – it feeds us and carries us’ (Žemutė šventa – mumis peni ir
nešioja). The examples are cited from the Database of the Heritage of Lithuanistics (Lietuvių literatūros ir tautosakos institutas,
Lietuvių kalbos institutas, Lietuvos istorijos institutas, and Matematikos ir informatikos institutas 2003).

6

There are remaining Lithuanian beliefs: ‘Children should not be allowed to spit into fire: the fire is sacred’ (Negalima leisti
vaikams spjaudyti į ugnį: ugnis šventa); ‘It is not allowed to urinate into the fire: it is sacred and it can get angry’ (Negalima
šlapintis į ugnį: ji šventa ir gali užpykti); prayers against blaze: ‘Saint Gabija, be one of us’ (Šventa Gabija, būk sava; Gabija is the
goddess of fire); ‘Before sleep, rake the fire, make the cross sign and say: “Saint Gabija, be peaceful in this place”. If you do this,
the fire will not escape’ (Einant gulti, reik užžarstyti ugnelę, peržegnoti ir sakyti: „Šventa Gabija, būk rami ant vietos.“ Jei teip
padarysi, tai ugnelė neišeis). The examples are cited from the Database of the Heritage of Lithuanistics (Lietuvių literatūros ir
tautosakos institutas, Lietuvių kalbos institutas, Lietuvos istorijos institutas, and Matematikos ir informatikos institutas 2003).

7

A Lithuanian legend says that if a person gets lost in the forest and if the devil is misleading him, he should pronounce his
mother’s name, because it is sacred and will scare away the devil; the story was told by Sandra Zakarienė at the Competition
of Lithuanian Storytellers ‘Žodzis žodzį gena’ in 2016.

8

In Lithuania, there are widespread beliefs that cuckoos and owls can announce the near future of a person by cuckooing and
hooting: rich and happy year, marriage, death, the birth of a baby; the birds symbolically embody the deities of destiny and
happiness. Other animals can also unveil the signs of the destiny: stork, pigeon, cat, squirrel, wolf, etc.

9

As Gintaras Beresnevičius (1995, 106) states in his book Baltų religinės formos, it is believed that the legendary Prussian
king Vaidevutis used the metaphor of a bee during his speeches to the people and taught them about a model of society
that resembles a colony of bees. He also advised his people to elect a king in the way bees do. In fact, bees communicate by

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

inanimate nature which can express the essence of life: it is believed that it can suffer, move, even
bleed; not to mention that it is believed that it remembers the beginning of the world and keeps in
itself the footprints of gods.10 And the celestial bodies, in the same way as people, are believed to
form a family: in Lithuania, the sun is the mother, the moon – the father, and the Earth and the stars
are their children. Moreover, it is believed that humans can be a part of this family, for example,
when an orphan gets married, she is believed to be given away by her celestial family.11
As it was mentioned, the Earth used to be considered sacred and called ‘mother’, or ‘feeder’.
It bears fruit and accepts after death, therefore, farming was considered a sacred act (Laurinkienė
2013; Ūsaitytė 2000, 2002, 2003) through human work, which is carried out as a ritual of establishing the relationship with earth. Consequently, craftsmanship as an act of creation is believed to
charge spiritual power and cosmic order into an object (Eliade 1997, 21–39; Marcinkevičienė 2007,
25–30, 141–54, 155–66); time was also organised in relation to the cosmic order of work and celebration, songs, and music. The sutartinės also have ritual roots (Račiūnaitė-Vyčinienė 1995, 2015).
There are undoubtedly plenty of other similar examples concerning nature, human life, time,
rituals, creative processes, work, and of the organisation of various other activities. Sacredness is
thus not just an object of theoretical insights – it can be experienced through the modes of unity,
harmony, peace, elevation, or even through a glow.
ICH helps us to comprehend that we have been linked with the entirety of life since the beginning of the world and that we share a bond with all of the world’s phenomena.
With regard to the approach to ICH not only as a set of individual items but also as a kind
of expression of worldview and outlook towards life, it can be stated that ICH is the ultimate
collection of inherited cultural forms (including contemporary manifestations). Therefore, there
expressive combinations of flying trajectories and spins to show that they found nectar. It is called the bee dance; also birds
and their mating rituals inspired people during the formation of dance culture. For example, one of the oldest and prominent
Lithuanian dance Suktinis shows a bee carrying honey. Moreover, bees are frequently considered to be sacred creatures.
10

The statements are based on the motives from Lithuanian legends. For example, the stone named Mokas and his family [sic]
was crossing the river when his wife turned back and drowned. He then stayed on the shore to grieve. There are also stories of
stone-turned people, usually newly-wed couples. In some stories concerning Mokas, if the stone is attempted to be split open,
the blood spills out from it.
In Lithuania, the stories about the origins of stones that are hollow are popular: they say that the hollow voids are the
footprints of God, the devil, the witch, Virgin Mary, etc.
Lithuanian etiological legends say that in the beginning of time, when God was creating the world, the enemy – the evil giant
Spjudas – tried to interfere: he would sow stone seeds or spit on the ground – this is how stones appeared on earth.
The stories and motives are from the following sources: Vėlius 1995, 47–59; Sauka 1962, 424–25; Lietuvių literatūros ir
tautosakos institutas, Lietuvių kalbos institutas, Lietuvos istorijos institutas, and Matematikos ir informatikos institutas 2003.

11

It refers to the type of popular Lithuanian songs about an orphan girl, in which the sun collects the dowry for her, the father
moon decides on the part of the dowry for her, the sisters Stars make the wreath, and the brother constellation walks her
through the fields (Kazlauskienė 1976, song type V 811).

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Safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China
10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

is an emerging need to learn how to grasp that connection: not only philosophically, but also
scientifically, scholarly; in fact, there is plenty of material for academic research. However, the
development of human sensitivity to the environment and the ability to experience it – the ability
to perceive the vibrations of one’s own soul from the early years – is the most important.
In Lithuania, the core principles regarding worldview are attempted to be installed in several
schools that provide lessons on traditional culture. What is more, the informal activities of ICH
researchers increase and intensify – this movement is identified as a research of innate culture.12
The union ‘Romuva’ based on the ancient Baltic culture and religion aims to revive the said principles in everyday life and festivities,13 as well as through organising Lithuanian Song Celebration
Folklore Day programmes. They are created with a focus on customs, songs and dances, and other
ICH features; notions of traditional worldview.
However, ICH bearers and specialists (working in culture, education, science) encounter the
remaining difficulty – the unsettling question of how to pass on the traditional knowledge and
worldview to the modern society so that people would comprehend and accept the traditional
values. After all, an educated contemporary human with a broad scope of interests will not willfully accept and live by traditions of his natural environment. He is not interested in the traditional
behaviour or ways of thought, since the more important aspect is the reason why the mentioned
behaviour or thought occurred, and especially why he should follow the same model of actions,
why they should be important to him, how it is useful not only for himself but also for the society
and the entire humanity.
Hence, on the one hand, in order to understand and verify traditions, he demands not only the
knowledge from the past but also proof based on modern academic and scientific research. On the
other hand, he needs to feel the impact; to experience all the modes of the world with all of his five
senses – maybe even with six. Therefore, it is better if the knowledge and experience complement
each other.
For example, since the publications on the neuro-linguistic programming and the theories of the
biology of belief (Andreas and Andreas 2013, 300; Lipton 2011, 221), the information concerning
the power of words and thoughts (for example, about wishes, prayer-type texts, spells against
illnesses, etc.) has received adequate consideration. It is worth mentioning that a great number of
young Lithuanian parents follow the works of ICH researchers who scientifically proved that tradi12

The website of the Institute of Inherent Culture is www.prigimtine.lt.

13

The website of the movement is www.romuva.lt.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

tional children sleep routines, swinging and singing lullabies as means of soothing and providing
safety14 are of great importance to their upbringing.
The other important example is the academic activities of Prof. Dr Daiva Vyčinienė – the researcher
of sutartinės and a professor of Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre (Lietuvos muzikos ir teatro
akademija). Her methods are twofold – she attempts to show both the results of the academic
research and the universal qualities of sutartinės (Račiūnaitė-Vyčinienė 2010); she introduces their
origins – bird voices, providing living examples and proving that culture started existing in the natural
harmony of humans and nature; she also illustrates the meditative essence of sutartinės that in fact
can lead to entering a state of trance, which impresses not only the admirers of eastern cultures but
also significant amounts of open-minded people (Račiūnaitė-Vyčinienė 2005, 2015). The researcher
shows that a singer of sutartinės becomes relieved of tiredness and headache, and overwhelmed
with feelings of lightness and peace (Daiva Račiūnaitė-Vyčinienė, pers. comm.).
Modern Lithuanian and worldwide ICH researchers who practice traditions and the bearers in
general embody the positive principles of human existence in the world as well as the traditional
values: the coherence (darna, harmony with oneself and the world, feeling as its integral part) and
prosperity (skalsa, a person wants only as much as he really needs).15 This is consistent with the
concept of sustainable development, thus it could become one of the ways to educate society
on how to stop consumption, endless exploitation of natural resources and the resulting climate
14

One of the important driving factors to develop the child upbringing traditions in the contemporary society was a theoretical
and practical conference ‘The concept of birth from perspectives of traditional culture’ from the series ‘Birth. Existence.
Death. Aspects of attitude and worldview’ in 1998, as well as the bearer Emilija Brajinskienė’s material which she thoroughly
provided in papers (1997a, 1997b); the research and practices of Jūratė Šemetaitė, Jurgas Sadauskienė, Lina Vilienė, and
Audronė Daraškevičienė (activities in ethnic culture centres, communities, patient treatment facilities, etc.) also receive the
interest of young parents; the Center for Attachment Parenting (Prieraišiosios tėvystės centras) shares the said information
(www.prieraisiojitevyste.lt/node/42) as well as other communities that provide infant and children education services (e.g.
www.mamudainos.lt/muzikos-pamokeles-kudikiams.html).

15

The notion of coherence as well as denoting harmony and the unity of versatility, together with the ability to live in peace with
others has been most widely promoted and developed by the ethnologist, philosopher, and a supporter of the ancient Baltic
culture Jonas Trinkūnas (e.g. 2010), ethnocosmology researcher Jonas Vaiškūnas (e.g. 1992, 2014), and Daiva RačiūnaitėVyčinienė (2003), who interpreted coherence based on sutartinės (the word stems from sutarti, which means ‘to be in accord’,
‘to understand each other’).
Daiva Vaitkevičienė has analysed the notion of prosperity in her article Namų laimė (2002). According to her, it is a mythical selfnourishment process that prevents the goods from exhaustion (2002, 11). ‘Let us prosper, God’ (Skalsink, Dieve) – a Lithuanian
etiquette formula and greeting used when a guest finds a family eating its meal; it means expressing a wish that the goods,
such as bread and food in general would never run out and people would be full even if the amount of food is not big. There
are similar greetings for workers (e.g. Skalsu – dangun balsu!, ‘If it is prosperous – the heavens know’), for bathing in sauna (e.g.
Skalsą šilimai!, Skalsą garui!, Skalsi beržo lapienė!, ‘Let the warmth prosper!’, ‘Let the steam prosper!’, ‘Prosper birch leaves!’), etc.
(Jasiūnaitė 1999, 2000).
Jonas Vaiškūnas (2016), in Nijolė Jačėnienė’s show Baltų genas: mes ir senovės lietuvių mitai, legendos, simboliai (Baltic genes: we
and ancient Lithuanian myths, legends, symbols), juxtaposed the principles of coherence and prosperity as the crucial matters
of faith and human existence. According to him, these are not the rules for behaviour, but on the contrary, they are the values
that should always be witnessed in one’s life.

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

change, and other alarming disasters. I hope that increasingly more people start caring about these
issues and take responsibility for the future of our planet.

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Vaiskunas_2014_06_21_Darna.mp3.
Vaiškūnas, Jonas. 2016. “„Baltų genas”: J.Vaiškūnas apie senąjį baltų tikėjimą mūsų dienomis (audio).” [‘Baltic genes’:
J. Vaiškūnas about the old Baltic faith today]. http://alkas.lt/2016/08/29/baltu-genas-j-vaiskunas-apie-senaji-baltu-tikejima-musu-dienomis-audio/.
Vaitkevičienė, Daiva. 2002. “Namų laimė [Happiness of home].” Liaudies kultūra 4: 9–21.
Vaitkevičienė, Daiva. 2012. “Apie savas vietas lietuvių prigimtinėje kultūroje [One’s own place in Lithuanian indigenous culture].” Liaudies kultūra 4: 30–49.
Vaitkevičius, Vykintas. 2009. “The Sacred Groves of the Balts: Lost History and Modern Research.” Folklore. Electronic Journal of Folklore 42: 81–94.
Vaitkevičius, Vykintas. 2012. “Kraštovaizdžio skaitymas su patirties žodynu [Reading the landscape with the
dictionary of experience].” Liaudies kultūra 4: 50–61.

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Vaitkevičius, Vykintas. 2016. “Baltų šventviečių atodangos [Outcrops of Baltic sacred places].” Liaudies kultūra 4:
33–43.
Vėlius, Norbertas, comp. 1995. Ežeras ant milžino delno. Lietuvių liaudies padavimai [The lake on the giant palm: Lithuanian folk legends]. Vilnius: Mintis.

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Safeguarding and
transmission of intangible
cultural heritage – the case
of Surova in a museum
context
Iglika Mishkova*

*

Assistant Professor, Ethnologist–curator, Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum – Bulgarian
Academy of Sciences (Institut za etnologiya i folkloristika s Etnografski muzey – Balgarska Akademiya na Naukite), PhD,
e-mail: iglika.mishkova@iefem.bas.bg.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

The diverse ways of interpreting and contextualising collections and
the production of multidimensional exhibitions have proven to benefit
both the museums and the ICH bearers. They also serve as models
for sustainable relationships between representing the tradition
and safeguarding the ICH.

As examples of ‘living culture’, intangible cultural heritage (ICH) and museums share a strong bond,
one that goes beyond spreading the knowledge about folk traditions, interpreting collections,
researching artefacts and ‘inventorying cultural expressions’ (Adell et al. 2015, 9). The ‘participatory museums’ (Simon 2010) provide interactive experiences to the public and serve as a bridge
between the tangible and intangible (Golinelli 2015, 31); between the past, present, and future
(Harrison 2015). The fluidity of time within the museum space also reinforces the safeguarding
and transmission (Pels, Hetherington, and Vandenberghe 2002) of those cultural values and identities that the public and the ICH bearers share. In this context, we examine the Surova folk feast in
Pernik as an ICH practice, together with its presentation to the museum public in Europe organised
by the Bulgarian National Ethnographic Museum (Nacionalen etnografski muzej, NEM).
This text will trace the role of several exhibitions for the safeguarding and transmission of Surova
traditions and rituals curated by the NEM, inscribed in 2015 on the UNESCO Representative List
of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Introduction
Over the past 15 years, most scholars have agreed that the borders between tangible and intangible (Alivizatou 2006, 2012), and between the cultural and natural heritage (Harrison 2015) are
blurring, and the museums reign not only over the past but also over the future of culture and iden-

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Survashkars from village of Leskovets, 2012. Photo by Iglika Mishkova.

Participants of the masquerade carrying torches in the village of Chepintsi, 13 January 2012. Photo by Iglika Mishkova.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

tity transmission (Harrison 2015). Furthermore, the museum itself becomes intangible in the virtual
and augmented reality, and its functions transform beyond the ICOM definition, and its relationship
with ICH blends together institutionalisation with de-institutionalisation (Smith 2006; Smith and
Akagawa 2008; Vukov 2016), and museification with de-museification (Hartog 2005; Ballacchino
2014; Vukov 2015b). Because of the multidisciplinary approach to the connection between exhibitions and intangible cultural heritage and its relationship with museums, the theoretical framework
falls short while examining it only within the museological, ethnographic, and cultural-anthropological contexts. Despite the importance of several factors influencing the analysis of the ICH safeguarding and transmission practices through museum activities, this text omits some very important issues, such as the role of tourism as a catalyst of economic sustainability both for museums
and ICH, and the debates on the objectification of heritage. For the purpose of this article, the
author assumes that there is a need for blending together the functions of exhibitions, performance, interaction and interpretations with the intrinsic functions of the ethnographic museum
– researching, inventorying, safeguarding and promoting intangible cultural heritage and museum
representations, with the common aim to transmit these living traditions to future generations.

About Surova feast
On 2 December 2015, the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage inscribed the ‘Surova folk feast in Pernik region’ on the Representative List
of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The element is concentrated in the region of Pernik,
with its administrative centre in the town of Pernik, located in Central Western Bulgaria, near the
capital city of Sofia. The folk feast Surova represents traditional masquerade games as a live practice in more than 36 villages and towns in the area, the bearers of the element.
The Surova folk feast in the Pernik region takes place every year on 13 and 14 January – the New
Year according to the old calendar.1 For local communities, it is nowadays their favourite feast. The
core of the element is the masquerade ritualism, which has served for many generations as a positive transition from the old to the new year. The immediate participants of these ancient – but still
alive – new year rites are the survakari masquerade groups, playing and going around the villages.
1

Bulgaria adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1916; that is why in the Orthodox Church the Julian calendar used previously is
called ‘old calendar’.

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Greeting between leaders of two groups, village of Chepintsi, 2012.

The group of survakari from the village of Banishte visiting the neighbouring village of Razhavets, 2012.
Photo by Iglika Mishkova.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

All participants wear masks; some of them perform special masquerade roles, e.g. ‘the leader’, ‘the
newlyweds’, ‘the priest, or ‘the bear with the bear-leaders’.
In the evening of 13 January, the survakari go to the village centre, light bonfires and play around
them, and tease the surrounding spectators. They also visit other neighbouring villages and meet
other masquerade groups. All survakari play the ring dance horo and have fun. Early in the morning
of 14 January, the masked men gather together again to walk around the village and proceed to
visit every house. In all houses, they ritually ‘marry the young couple’, and the bear figure ‘mauls for
good health’. The hosts wait for them with a ritually set table, treat them to a good meal and give
them presents. The visit of the masked men to each house is a must.

Participants of the practice
By the beginning of the 20th century, only the young single men from the community masked
themselves, because the practice performed functions directly related to men’s initiation
and marriage. Other inhabitants of the villages (women, children, and married men) were not
permitted to take part in the masquerade games. Nowadays, not only men of all ages, but also
women and children participate equally and actively in them, which can be observed by everyone
present at the feast.
The bearers of the Surova feast are ordinary people. The participants in the survakari
masquerade games are not professional performers and do not have institutional obligations
concerning its organisation. They go out and play spontaneously, by tradition, in the same way
their predecessors did.
Each group establishes its own organisation and includes all inhabitants of the village. The
survakari choose their leader and distribute among themselves the ‘roles’ – special characters that
each one will represent. During the feast, the leader is listened to and obeyed unconditionally.
After the feast, the survakari hold a special meeting and decide on the use of the collected
donations, depending on the problems and needs in their villages. Most frequently, they cover the
needs of community centres (chitalishte), or general village necessities. The local authorities take
their decisions into consideration.
The survakari masquerade tradition in the communities of the Pernik region is passed down
from generation to generation, from the old to young, as it has always been in traditional societies.

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A continuous form of communication among people from different social, professional, and
age groups is achieved through the element’s implementation, based on handing down, assimilating, and expressing traditional knowledge and skills. Thus, spread by the integration of certain,
recognised ways of thinking and feeling, approved by the ICH bearers, this tradition guarantees
itself a continuity in time and space.
The viability of Surova is ensured by its function as a cultural resource and creativity expression
for the young generation. Its continuity is also guaranteed by the consolidating role it plays for local
people of different age and social status. It is not only permanent village residents who take part in
the practices but also many people living in urban environments. For one’s family, it is a matter of
great prestige to have its members participating in the survakari group. It is also not an exaggeration to say that in the region of Pernik, every house keeps memories about traditional Surova – in
the form of vivid reminiscences, masks, and photographs hanging on walls. Also at schools and
community cultural centres all activities related to the feast are continuously encouraged.

The relationship between the Surova feast and the Festival
of masquerade games
In order to maintain the Surova feast, the Municipality of Pernik established the Festival na Maskaradnite Igri (Festival of masquerade games) in 1966.2 The relationship between the feast and the festival
has already continued for almost half of a century and has not brought any negative consequences
on the viability of Surova as an ICH element (Vukov 2015a). On the contrary, the festival has contributed to raising awareness about the Surova feast and has facilitated the efforts for maintaining
its vitality. Over the past fifty years of the festival’s existence, no negative influences have been
observed. The ongoing expectation is that the positive relationship between the Surоva feast and
the Festival of masquerade games will continue in the future, and that has been the reason for not
outlining the possible risks and the lack of need of undertaking any measures in this regard.

2

Nowadays it takes place at the end of January every year – two weeks after it is held in the villages. From the very beginning,
although announced as ‘regional’, the festival has incorporated masquerade game groups from the whole country and has thus
acquired a national character. In this way, the festival in Pernik stimulates the revival of the masquerade games in a number of
villages and the appearance of other festival events in urban environment. In 1985 its statute became international under the
title of International Festival of Masquerade Games ‘Surva’. Nowadays, more than 100 groups with more than 6000 masked
performers take part in this festival, together with international participants.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

For the Pernik region communities, there is a clear distinction between the Surova feast in
the villages and the Festival of masquerade games in the town. The festival is a part of urban
culture, showcasing in a modern way the Surova folk tradition, which has been transmitted for
many generations and has been maintained vital in the villages of the Pernik region (Vukov 2015a).
At the Surova feast, there are more people present from the local community than there are at
the festival, which is international by status and includes performing groups from various parts of
the country and abroad. In fact, some of the local groups and bearers from the Pernik area do not
attend the festival but dance only in the villages during the Surova feast. From such a perspective,
the inscription of the Surova feast in the Representative List plays an important role in paying
special attention to the living tradition and in encouraging the bearers in their efforts to safeguard
their heritage within their rural environment.
Until now, there have not been any indications of any negative impact of the festival on the
customs in the villages. On the contrary, it has played a positive role for the masking games in the
entire country. During the communist period, when masquerade games were categorised as religious traditions, the establishment of the festival in the 1960s helped to justify the performance
of masquerade festivities in different parts of the country. Throughout the years of its existence,
there has been a positive collaboration between the organisers of the festival, the local communities, and also the bearers in Pernik area, who sometimes take part in the juries of the international
event. An example of the positive impact is that the nation-wide and international interest in the
festival motivates the bearers of the Surova feast to safeguard and transmit the element further.
And they eagerly do, which is proven by their mass participation in the festivities.

Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic
Museum
The role of the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum (Institut
za etnologiya i folkloristika s Etnografski muzey, IEFSEM) – the NEM is actually an administrative
unit within it – it has been vital for researching, promoting, and safeguarding intangible cultural
heritage over the past 110 years. Even before the ratification of the 2003 UNESCO Convention
for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, IEFSEM played a crucial role in the creation of the national database of ICH elements within the programme of Living Human Treasures.

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Village Banishte, 2012. Photo by Iglika Mishkova.

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‘Surova feast in the Pernik region’ was inscribed as an element on the National Inventory of ICH
by an expert team from the IEFSEM, with the participation of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic
of Bulgaria (Ministerstvo na kulturata), coordinated by the regional administrative structures in the
field of culture, including the national network of the Bulgarian community centres.
As a key institution within the ICH safeguarding system, IEFSEM also stores and maintains the
documentation related to ICH. The National Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage (Natsionalen tsentar za nematerialno kulturno nasledstvo) preserves and ensures access to audio and
video files, written records concerning elements’ status, and their nominations. Furthermore,
the Ethnographic Archive is one of the oldest Bulgarian archives; it preserves the photographs
of masquerades from the Pernik area taken between 1906 and 1947. At the same time, the
NEM has a small collection of masks and other objects related to the element. As a work of folk
art, the survakari masks are unique products of human creativity. The recognition and provision of their visibility on the international level is clearly contributing to the acknowledgement
of the element as a part of world cultural heritage, and it is also a great source of inspiration
to modern artists.
Intangible heritage suggests a holistic understanding of what cultural heritage is by acknowledging the significance and value of oral and living practices, and expressions that are related to
objects, monuments, and cultural spaces. In addition to the definition provided by the UNESCO
2003 Convention, ICH has been further analysed in the context of museums.

Museum collections
Intangible heritage reveals the cultural significance and value of museum collections. It places
objects in the context of their production and use. The NEM has been collecting masks from the
area of Pernik since 1906, thus making it the first museum exhibition that has ever exhibited
Bulgarian culture. Unfortunately, due to poor conservation experiences in the past, and due to
the nature of the specific material that the masks are made from, the NEM had lost its old collection. In the years after the Second World War, the Museum started a new process of documenting
the masquerade. A few members of the Museum staff who are painters visited the villages and
made paintings of the masks and the practice. Afterwards, the museum enriched its collection with
authentic artefacts from the region.

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Village Elov dol, 2012. Photo by Iglika Mishkova.

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Every year, starting from the year 2000 until today, the Museum has held fieldwork in the villages
and collected pictures and videos in the Archive. The fieldwork on this topic presents a number of
methodological challenges. It entails extensive involvement and active participation of communities who are the bearers of living culture. When researching intangible heritage, museum professionals are engaging with local communities, trying to understand the history and meaning of their
cultural expressions. The representatives of IEFSEM actively participate in scientific conferences
on ICH-related topics.

Museum presentations
Exhibition-making is one of the main aspects of museum practice. In the 19th and 20th centuries,
museums exhibited objects taxonomically in glass cases, which appealed only to the sense of sight. At
the beginning of the 20th century, the NEM followed the same practice when exhibiting the masked
people from the area of Pernik. The contemporary museum practice, however, witnesses exhibition
models featuring live music, special lighting effects, and dance performances. After the publications
about New Museology and ‘post-museum’ or ‘modernist museum’, the responsibility of the museum
towards education and enjoyment of the audience was emphasised instead. As a result, display practices have evolved, and considerable attempts have been made towards a more holistic interpretation of museum artefacts. The museum does not only exhibit objects but also hosts socio-cultural
programmes to sustain and promote the creativity of indigenous communities (Bortolotto 2007).
Intangible heritage is by definition people-oriented rather than object-centred. At its core, implementation of the new initiative will transform the relationships between museums and their audiences and stakeholders. Among the results will be requests by people from diverse backgrounds to participate in substantive dialogues about their intangible heritage, and to share authority in defining and curating a museum’s
interpretation of their heritage. The outcome of these efforts will be a paradigm shift of exceptional magnitude (Boylan 2006, 63).

In the process of curating intangible heritage, museums must thus know how to establish
equal partnerships with culture bearers and develop mechanisms for sharing authority and decision-making about museum activities and representations.
In the period between 2005 and 2016, the NEM presented four different exhibitions about
masks and masquerades: Magicheskata maska (The magic mask, 2005), two international exhibi-

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tions as a part of the project Carnival King of Europe (2009, 2012),3 and Surova (2016). All of those
exhibitions focused their attention on the masks; ethnographic objects – ‘fragments’ (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 1998) – and the people who produce and use these objects. The masks from the
Pernik area were exhibited both as artistic objects with distinct technical and aesthetic characteristics, as well as means of introducing symbolic expressions tied to their original use to the audience.
Thus, the notion of intangible heritage in museums enables a wider and deeper interpretation and
contextualisation of artefacts.
In terms of exhibition-making, the concept of intangible heritage is relevant to the contextualisation of objects. It unravels their cultural significance and symbolic value that extend beyond
their technical and artistic features by placing them ‘into wider circles of meaning’ (Garton Smith
2000, 58). This can be achieved in several interpretive ways that help to trigger different associations and connections, such as storytelling, narrations, music, or what Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (1991,
389–390) described as ‘in context’ installations. Among others, they include multimedia applications, headphones, charts, panels and labels; and help to facilitate the production of different
levels of meaning (Alivizatou 2006).
That is the reason why the last exhibition about Surova in the NEM was an installation with
masks (received from the bearers) and other objects, showcased in video and audio format, along
with the voices of the participants of Surova. The aim of the exhibition was to establish a dialogue
between the Museum and the communities. Unlike traditional cultural heritage however, objectified in artefacts for observation and already existing in the museum vaults, in these exhibitions,
the bearers of intangible cultural heritage were involved in the preparation of their own culture
representations; they explained their idea of adding the element to the List and the significance of
Surova for the local communities on the provided screens.
On the one side thus, the presentation is concentrated under Surova in a perspective-integrating
manner, playing a role in the construction of a ‘bridge between the generations’. The attractiveness
of the masquerade holiday experience appeals to the youth and raises their self-esteem as continuers of the tradition and interpreters of the cultural originality of their village communities. In the
preparation of Surova feast, the participants in the masquerade always create their best masks and
costumes to distinguish them from those of the neighbouring village. Nowadays, practising of this
element also constitutes an unusual form of informal education in tolerance and respect to other
3

For details, see the project’s website: www.carnivalkingofeurope.it/activities/exhibition.php.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

cultures, religions, and ethnicities. The Roma people, also masked and disguised often participate
in the masquerade games, directly and equally taking part in the feast, participating in the inter-village gaiety. Foreigners and the students living in this region are also interested and take part in the
masquerade, which is very positively regarded by the local community.
On the other side, the presentation stresses the framework of ‘togetherness’ of the community life. The survakari groups in the different villages are free and open formations which maintain a community life; all of them collectively make and implement decisions concerning not only
the feast but also the sustainable development of the village. And although they compete in
making original masks for differentiating their village, they also exchange resources and materials for the successful running of the feast and thus form new, mutually beneficient friendships
and connections.
The role of the museum as a mediator does not stop at these positive experiences. It also serves
as a platform to voice the problems incurred in the process of safeguarding and transmitting the
intangible cultural heritage. The presentation of the movies with interviews held with the bearers
of the practice clearly demonstrates the problem with decreasing population in the Pernik region,
which poses a threat to its continuity. They explain how preserving the tradition could solve this
issue: ‘if every day was Surova, the villages would be full of people’.
The role of the IEFSEM for safeguarding the Surova feast as ICH is visible also in the nomination for the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The nomination stresses that some of the measures taken on regional and municipal levels to prevent this
process of population decline – particularly those related to the promotion of local traditions – are
also a resource for local and sustainable development. Certainly, the decreasing population poses
a potential threat to maintaining the viability of Surova, but this threat is minimal because of the
enormous popularity that this traditional practice enjoys among the communities in the area, and
because of the large number of young people who take part in the feast who are willing to transmit
it (Vukov 2015a). Not least, the feast is a focal point of gathering for people who were born in the
area, live elsewhere, but come back especially for the festivities and participate in maintaining this
tradition.
Depopulation is a problem in the entire country. It depends on the state’s social and economic
policies, job opportunities, and overall possibilities for social, cultural and economic development
offered in rural areas. The Surova feast and ICH alone cannot solve this problem on their own.
However, on 13–14 January, when the festivities take place, a lot of people come back to their

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villages for the celebrations, to participate in the preparations of masks and costumes, and to see
the live performance in the masquerade games. The custom plays an important role in attracting
migrants, gathering tourists, and enlivening the villages in the days of Surova feast. The inscription
of the element in UNESCO’s Representative List enhances the bearers’ self-esteem in transmitting
their cultural traditions. As noted in the nomination file, the wide popularisation and acknowledgement on the international level would stimulate the governmental institutions to a resourceful
support of the communities in the depopulated and declining villages of the region. This would, in
turn, increase the potential for cultural tourism in the area and contribute to its sustainable development in the long-term perspective.
Beyond the crucial role that the IEFSEM has played in the nomination and inscription of the
element in UNESCO’s Representative List, the NEM supports the safeguarding and transmission
of Surova traditions thanks to the interpretation and contextualisation of the organised events.
Exhibitions, performances, and overall parallel festivities in the museum enable audiences to think
beyond the displayed objects and gain new and profound insights into the ICH themes. Such events
include craft demonstrations, performances, talks, and study days. Initiatives of this kind reveal the
effort of museums to introduce elements of living culture into their practice, and the importance
of educational programmes that use the tradition bearers – masters of the masks – for promoting
the continuity of ICH.

Conclusion
The concept of intangible heritage safeguarding and transmission through museum activities
has proven its feasibility and effectiveness with the Surova feast and the related IEFSEM and
NEM actions. The diverse ways of interpreting and contextualising collections and the production of multidimensional exhibitions have proven to benefit both the museums and the ICH
bearers. They also serve as models for sustainable relationships between representing the tradition and safeguarding the ICH. The creation of multi-layered events dedicated to Surova at the
NEM is also an opportunity to empower the voices of the local communities through museum
presentations that promote the transmission of the tradition and can serve as a good example
for ICH-related practices.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

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Cultural Heritage, Namibia. Expert Meeting on a Model Code of Ethics. Argumentation Statement for Eliminating the
Word ‘Museification’ from the Code of Ethics [audio recording]. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/10com.
Vukov, Nikolaj. 2016. “Tendencii za konstruirane na novi Evropejski nasledstva, osnovavashti se na migraciite i obshtoesropejskite politiki (Multikulturalizm i „nezhelano nasledstvo”) [Trends in the construction of new European
heritages, based on migrations and the pan-European policies].” Accessed May 13. http://www.migrantheritage.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/dokladnikolay.pdf.

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The Association of Folk
Artists and its activities
for the safeguarding
of intangible cultural
heritage in Poland
Waldemar Majcher*
Paweł Onochin**
Katarzyna Smyk***

*

President of the Executive Board of the Association of Folk Artists (Stowarzyszenie Twórców Ludowych),
waldekmajcher@gmail.com.
** Coordinator of the statutory activities of the Association of Folk Artists, onochinowie@wp.pl.
*** Professor, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Faculty of Humanities, Institute of Cultural Studies, Department of Polish
Culture (Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej, Wydział Humanistyczny, Instytut Kulturoznawstwa, Zakład Kultury Polskiej),
Lublin, Poland, k_smyk@wp.pl.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

The Association of Folk Artists occupies an exceptional position
in the universe of the Polish non-governmental organisations engaged
in the protection of intangible cultural heritage. As the oldest institution
which brings together verified folk artists – heritage bearers – it is
predestined to protect both the tradition and folk artists themselves.

The Association of Folk Artists (Stowarzyszenie Twórców Ludowych – STL) is an organisation
with nearly 50 years of achievements, dedicated to the protection of the tangible and intangible
heritage of folk culture. It was established in 1968 at the initiative of artists themselves. The main
statutory objective of the Association is to cultivate folk traditions in the field of art, folklore and
folk literature, to popularise its most precious manifestations and to provide extensive patronage
for folk artists. The Association of Folk Artists has over 2000 full members – folk artists verified
in terms of their ethnographic relevance that represent all areas of plastic art and folklore, i.e.
performance of songs and dance, folk music and all sorts of staged folk theatrical forms, customs,
rituals, as well as oral and written literature. The Executive Board of the Association has its registered office at No. 14 Grodzka Street in Lublin. As regards its organisational structure, the Association has 22 branch offices all over Poland.1 It also has an advisory body – the Scientific Council,
appointed by the National Congress of the Association of Folk Artists. The Scientific Council reviews
the programme and orientations of the Association, contributes to the attainment of its statutory goals and verifies candidates for membership. The Scientific Council consists of four Sections:
Literature Section, Art Section, Folklore Section, and Social and Programme Council. As a general
rule, Sections hold their meetings once a year to verify candidates for membership in the Association (compare ‘Sprawozdanie Rady…’ 2014).

1

For information on the objectives, the number of members and the structure of the Association, see ‘Sprawozdanie Zarządu…’
2014.

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Toy making traditions in Żywiec and Sucha Beskidzka presented during the Forum, October 2016.
Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Perebory – weaving traditions in the Bug river region presented during the Forum, October 2016.
Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

It should be emphasised that the Association of Folk Artists is the only organisation in Poland
which identifies a folk creator in an expert way, by means of a verification process carried out by
specialists from its Scientific Council. Every year, more than 100 people undergo this procedure,
50% of whom obtain the status of a folk artist and are accepted as full members of the Association. It is meant to confirm that their works are ethnographically authentic and consistent with
the tradition of the home region of a given artist or craftsman. Over time, the terms of admission to the Association of Folk Artists have been reviewed and modified in response to cultural
transformations. Nonetheless, they have always been intended to sustain the traditional art and
to bring together tradition and modernity in a harmonious way. For this reason – as it has been
stated in the Terms and Conditions for Admission to the Association of Folk Artists – the commission
of a given Section of the Scientific Council checks if at least half of the works submitted for evaluation are consistent with regional traditions. For example, in the case of folk artists who wish to
become members of the Association, at least five out of ten works must satisfy the above-mentioned condition; in the case of writers of folk literature – thirty out of sixty poems or ten out of
twenty pieces of prose must satisfy that condition. According to another strictly obeyed rule, ‘the
candidate may not have specialist education and his or her creative output should be connected
with a rural environment’ (Stowarzyszenie Twórców Ludowych 2017b).
When Poland ratified the 2003 UNESCO Convention, the Association of Folk Artists sought to
align its activities with the provisions of the Convention. It was found then that a large number of
statutory activities of the Association, especially those associated with documenting, archiving,
non-formal education and dissemination of all manifestations of folk creativity, successfully implement the UNESCO’s recommendations concerning the protection of intangible heritage, which
is understood as ‘identification, documentation, research, preservation, protection, promotion,
enhancement, transmission’ of various aspects of such heritage (Article 2 paragraph 3 of the
Convention).2 Since then, the Association of Folk Artists has emphasised and confirmed this aspect
in its official documents and in its activities promoting the ideas of the Convention.
The following part of this paper focuses on the tasks performed by the Association of Folk
Artists, which are closely aligned with the 2003 Convention: documentation, archiving, promotion,
education and publication.

2

Konwencja UNESCO w sprawie ochrony niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego, sporządzona w Paryżu dnia 17 października
2003 r., Dziennik Ustaw [Journal of Laws] 2011, no. 172, item 1018.

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Documentation and archival activity
1. Work associated with national databases with data on folk artists and artistic groups from
rural areas
Every year, the databases are maintained by being continually verified, updated and supplemented. New data are verified and retrieved by means of distribution of questionnaires, on-site
interviews, correspondence with creators and participation in folklore events. The resulting
materials provide a basis for analysing contemporary transformations that take place in contemporary culture. This, in turn, makes it possible to register phenomena evidencing the evolution
and directions of the development of art and handicraft in rural areas. At present, the databases
contain over 12,000 records. Each record describes one creator, craftsman, ensemble or a folk
band. The base covers such fields of art, handicraft and craftsmanship as: weaving, lace making,
embroidering, pottery-making, painting, sculpturing, braiding, blacksmithing, woodcarving,
toy-making, paper and tissue decorating, ritual arts, constructing folk musical instruments, as
well as arts represented by only a few artists: amber crafting, horn crafting, silverware-making,
production of sieves, tile-making, saddle-making and bell-founding. As regards folklore, they
cover singing groups, ritual, theatrical and satirical groups, song and dance ensembles and
bands. Another category includes folk poets, prose writers and playwrights.
Data are collected not only for documentation and archiving purposes but also with the aim
to stimulate interest and restore disappearing skills in the regions and to disseminate information about folklore among all those who are interested. The databases are created and made
available3 in order to foster knowledge about regional culture, its characteristic products and
specific artists – masters of their areas of artistic specialisation.
2. Documentation of achievements of contemporary folk art
Documentation is produced continuously and all year round:
• by capturing photographic and video footage of artistic activity of creators who cultivate folk
art and folklore, including works of art, performances, presentations, shows and workshops,
exhibitions, memoirs, accounts, etc.;
• by documenting the results of folklore events organised in various regions of the country,
mostly events in which members of the Association of Folk Artists are involved;
3

The bases are made available to interested institutions and individual persons by the employees of the Executive Board of the
Association of Folk Artists.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

• by sourcing materials which evidence the activities of individual artists, such as catalogues,
literary works and leaflets documenting individual artistic pursuits and dissemination activities,
as well as publications, surveys, personal files, press releases and minutes, obtained directly
from creators and animators of regional culture.
3. The Archives of the Association of Folk Artists
All obtained materials are archived in accordance with the procedure of the Archives of the
Association of Folk Artists, operating since 1968. In total, about 150 types of items are archived
every year, including source documents and manuscripts, surveys, personal files, literary works,
publications, leaflets, press cut-outs, catalogues, scripts of shows, rules of procedure and
minutes, as well as 1,5000 photographs. All interested persons can access the Archives of the
Association of Folk Artists after being permitted to do so by the Executive Board of the Association of Folk Artists.

Dissemination and educational activities
1. The Folk Art Fair in Kazimierz Dolny (the 50th edition of the Fair was held in 2017)
The Fair, taking place as part of the Ogólnopolski Festiwal Kapel i Śpiewaków Ludowych
(Festival of Polish folk ensembles and folk singers) (with its 51st edition held in 2017), is one
of the oldest and most prestigious national festivals that present the contemporary folk art in
Poland. It brings together more than 100 artists representing particular regions of Poland and
different areas of artistic pursuit: sculpting, painting, pottery-making, blacksmithing, braiding,
wood and chip product-making, weaving, embroidering, lace-making, decorative and ritual
arts, toy-making, constructing musical instruments, etc. The most outstanding folk artists and
craftsmen, masters of artistic workmanship, laureates of prestigious competitions, as well as
young folk-art practitioners whose works directly relate to the traditional design and craftsmanship present their works there.
The Fair does not only show and promote folk art but also creates a unique atmosphere that
helps to establish a direct contact between artists and recipients, for example, during shows
and handicraft workshops. An inseparable element of the Fair is also a competition for the
best works presented on stalls. The competition has a noticeable positive effect on the quality
of presented items; it encourages artists to respect the ethnographic canon and to prepare

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Basketry traditions presented by Serfenta (NGO) members during the Forum, October 2016.
Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

their exhibitions with more care and enhance their visual attractiveness. For many years, the
participants of the Folk Art Fair have consistently had to satisfy high artistic requirements. The
Association of Folk Artists strives to make sure that presented works are authentic. In this way,
it prevents folk art from becoming uniform and impoverished in terms of its authenticity.4
2. Web portal KulturaLudowa.pl
The Association of Folk Artists administers and edits the web portal KulturaLudowa.pl. The tradition in contemporary times (kulturaludowa.pl), created as a central, web-based source of continually updated and critically reviewed information about folk culture and its heritage in a broader
sense. The portal serves as a multi-media tool and an information base for animators of culture,
regionalists, researchers, ethnologists, pupils, students and for anyone interested in traditional
culture. The main purpose of the portal is to popularise traditional folk culture, to enhance
the sense of regional identity and its values, to broaden and strengthen the image of old and
modern folk art and to demonstrate its significance for national culture. Another important
focus of the web portal includes the issues associated with safeguarding the intangible cultural
heritage and its specific uses, in line with the UNESCO Convention (see, for example, Kultura
Ludowa 2015, 2017a). The patronage for the web portal is provided by the National Heritage
Board of Poland (Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa).
The tasks associated with administering and editing the web portal include constant and
systematic verification of information services by updating the database and publishing the
latest news items, stories, reviews and presentations.
3. The Academy of Folk Art
The Academy of Folk Art (with its 8th edition in 2017) was inaugurated in 2010 as an educational
project, taking the form of a series of workshops. The workshops take place at the Gallery of the
Association of Folk Artists in Lublin. They are conducted by folk artists and members of the Association – masters from all over Poland, who present their skills and knowledge of native traditions. Every year, the project workshops are organised around five topics comprising various
traditional creative disciplines. Until now, the workshops have been attended by about 90
organised groups (approximately 1,500 people). The workshops are accompanied by thematic
exhibitions which present traditional products of artistic craftsmanship. The meetings with the
tradition at the Academy of Folk Art are an excellent way to popularise practices and customs
4

For stories from the next edition of the Fair, together with a selection of photographs and minutes of the competition, see for
example ‘47th Fair…’ 2014; Onochin 2015, 2016.

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that are still alive, and as such they are extremely important in the process of implementing
the objectives of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage,
focusing on direct transmission of skills and knowledge. The tangible and material results of this
task include the works of the project participants, produced during the workshops. Moreover,
the workshops enable artists to confront and exchange ideas, while their participants have
an opportunity to become familiar with the traditions of many regions (Kraczoń 2015).
4. The Scene of Tradition
Another project carried out by the Association of Folk Artists with the aim to popularise and
disseminate folklore is the ‘Scene of Tradition’. The project consists of music sessions for children, entitled ‘Grow Music’, and of music sessions for adults.
The ‘Grow Music’ project has been designed as a series of activities focusing on musical traditions. They take the form of mini-concerts and music workshops for the youngest children
(from nursery schools and primary schools). During these sessions, traditional songs, dances
and elements of children’s folklore are presented, together with the most interesting elements
of the cultures of minorities and ethnic groups living in Poland. There are also presentations of
folk instruments and traditional old games, with live music accompaniment (see, for example,
Kultura Ludowa 2016).
Music sessions for adults take the form of workshops, presentations, concerts and dances,
which are intended to demonstrate and promote selected aspects of traditional music. The
events take place in different types of locations in Lublin (restaurants, clubs, cultural centres,
non-governmental institutions). They include meetings with musicians and interesting people
from rural areas who are involved in preserving folk music, as well as multi-media presentations
(with old photographs and archival films), stories about music and its contexts and contemporary functions. All these events provide participants from different backgrounds with an opportunity to exchange skills and musical experience. Other activities include concerts and dances
performed by the best bands and folk groups from Poland. The ‘Scene of Tradition’ enables
performers of the older and younger generation and the laureates of numerous festivals and
awards to meet and perform together. It is a lively presentation of the musical cultural heritage
(for example Kultura Ludowa 2017b).
5. The Jan Pocek Literary Contest
The Jan Pocek Literary Contest (45th edition in 2017) is the most prestigious national Polish
competition for folk writers, poets, prose writers and storytellers from different age groups,

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

organised annually since 1972 (see, for example, ‘Z historii…’ 2006). It enables folk literary
artists to present their artistic works and to compare them with those of other artists. The
contest is open both to members and non-members of the Association of Folk Artists. Every
year, about 100 writers take part in the contest. It builds and strengthens ties between folk
artists, provides them with artistic inspirations and ideas and stimulates their creativity. It also
helps to identify and document the phenomena taking place in folk literature and to study
its development trends.

Publishing activities
1. The ‘Heritage’ Library of the Association of Folk Artists
Publishing activities are an extremely important and long-lasting element of the work of the
Association of Folk Artists. On the one hand, they present the academic and research achievements and pursuits associated with folk culture. On the other hand, they show the achievements of the creators themselves. Since 1976, the Association of Folk Artists has been
publishing collections of works of particular authors and anthologies of folklore literature from
its ‘Heritage’ Library Series (Niewiadomski 2012). It is the only entity in Poland which publishes
such works systematically and in line with the criteria of philological editing.
2. ‘Twórczość Ludowa. Kwartalnik Stowarzyszenia Twórców Ludowych’ (Folk creativity. A quarterly magazine of the Association of Folk Artists)
‘Twórczość Ludowa’ (published for the 32nd year in 2017) (Adamowski and Orlik 2013) is the
only Polish magazine with a countrywide circulation that is entirely devoted to contemporary
folk art and its achievements and problems. It is addressed to folk artists, animators of cultural
life, instructors, employees of cultural institutions and all readers interested in folk art. It
discusses issues which are essential for the community of folk artists, showing the complexity
and unique beauty of the Polish folk culture heritage and popularising that heritage in all its
manifestations. Authors who publish their texts there include outstanding Polish academics,
ethnographers, sociologists, culture experts, Polish philologists, musicologists, folklorists,
regionalists, folk artists, employees of regional cultural institutions, as well as enthusiasts and
other people interested in folk culture. For 32 years the magazine has gained numerous readers
and supporters, functioning as a bridge between creators of folk culture and the community

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Cross-cultural encounter. Żukowo school of the Kashubian embroidery bearers talking with the ICH expert from
Romania, Adina Hulubaş, October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

of researchers and animators of culture. Two issues of the magazine are usually published every
year (Stowarzyszenie Twórców Ludowych 2017a).
***
The Association of Folk Artists occupies an exceptional position in the universe of the Polish
non-governmental organisations engaged in the protection of intangible cultural heritage. As the
oldest institution which brings together verified folk artists – heritage bearers – it is predestined to
protect both the tradition and folk artists themselves. The Association of Folk Artists fulfils its predestined function in many ways, for example, as has recently been the case, by presenting its opinions
on new legal acts that are needed to fill the gaps in the Polish legislation. Relying on Articles 5 and
6 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2 April 19975 that define the obligations of the
State connected with the maintenance of the cultural heritage as a significant source of the nation’s
identity, the Association of Folk Artists has for many years emphasised the need to start work on
a new act on the protection of the cultural heritage that would take into account, in a harmonious
way, both the tangible and intangible heritage (Majcher and Onochin 2015; Majcher 2015). In 2017,
the postulates connected with the intangible heritage are beginning to be fulfilled – at the initiative
of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, the work has been started to amend the current
Act of 25 October 1991 on organising and conducting cultural activities6 and to adopt a new Act
that will regulate the organisation and conduct of artistic activities. Within the framework of the
National Culture Conference, encompassing a range of activities expected to bring new statutory
solutions, operated by the Frederic Chopin National Institute (Narodowy Instytut Fryderyka Chopina)
(with Mr. Artur Szklener as its Director) – work is under way on five modules, including one devoted
to folk artists and folk art. The voice of the Association of Folk Artists has played a significant role in
the preliminary stage of this work, i.e. non-public and public consultations in particular communities.
It is an expert voice which cannot be ignored in the lawmaking and legislative process; after all, the
Association of Folk Artists not only represents artists, animators of culture, educators and leaders of
local communities, but it also has extensive resources, including its rich and varied experience in the
protection of the intangible cultural heritage.

5 Dziennik Ustaw 1997 no. 78 item 483.
6 Dziennik Ustaw 1991 no. 114 item 493.

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References
“47. Targi Sztuki Ludowej w Kazimierzu Dolnym [The 47th Folk Art Fair in Kazimierz Dolny]”. 2014. Twórczość Ludowa
3–4: 61–62.
Adamowski, Jan and Adam Orlik. 2013. “Bibliografia zawartości »Twórczości Ludowej« za lata 1986–2000 [Bibliography of „Folk Creativity” in 1986–2000].” Twórczość Ludowa 3–4: 1–2.
Kraczoń, Katarzyna. 2015. “Promocja niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego w Galerii Sztuki Ludowej STL
w 2015 roku [Promotion of intangible cultural heritage at the Folk Art Gallery of the Association of Folk Artists
in 2015].” Twórczość Ludowa 3–4: 67.
Kultura Ludowa. 2015. “Zarządzanie światowym dziedzictwem kulturowym – e-książka do pobrania [Management
of the world’s cultural heritage – with a downloadable e-book].” Accessed December 28. http://kulturaludowa.
pl/aktualnosci/zarzadzanie-swiatowym-dziedzictwem-kulturowym-e-ksiazka-do-pobrania/.
Kultura Ludowa. 2016. “Lublin. Rośnij muzyczko, rośnij – warsztaty muzyczne dla dzieci [Lublin. Grow Music – music
workshops for children].” Accessed November 16. http://kulturaludowa.pl/aktualnosci/lublin-rosnij-muzyczkorosnij-warsztaty-muzyczne-dla-dzieci/.
Kultura Ludowa. 2017a. “Dziedzictwo kulturowe [Cultural heritage].” Accessed July 16. http://kulturaludowa.pl/
aktualnosci-niematerialne-dziedzictwo-kulturowe/.
Kultura Ludowa. 2017b. “Lubelska Scena Tradycji – Kapela dęta ze Zdziłowic [The Lublin Stage of Tradition – The
brass band from Zdziłowice].” Accessed July 16. http://kulturaludowa.pl/wydarzenia/lubelska-scena-tradycji-kapela-deta-ze-zdzilowic/.
Majcher, Waldemar. 2015. “Rok Kolberga – i co dalej? Wystąpienie Prezesa STL w Sejmie RP [Kolberg’s Year – and
what next? The speech of the President of the Association of Folk Artists at the Polish Parliament].” Twórczość
Ludowa 1–2: 1–3.
Majcher, Waldemar and Paweł Onochin. 2015. “Współczesna rola Stowarzyszenia Twórców Ludowych w ochronie
kultury ludowej – wartości – wyzwania – zagrożenia [Contemporary role of the Association of Folk Artists in the
protection of folk culture – values – challenges – threats].” Twórczość Ludowa 3–4: 5–7.
Niewiadomski, Donat. 2012. “Współczesne edycje pisarstwa ludowego. Fenomen socjokulturowy [Contemporary
editions of folk literature. A socio-cultural phenomenon].” Twórczość Ludowa 1–2: 8–12.
Onochin, Paweł. 2015. “XLVIII Targi Sztuki Ludowej w Kazimierzu Dolnym [The 48th Folk Art Fair in Kazimierz Dolny].”
Twórczość Ludowa 1–2: 57.
Onochin, Paweł. 2016. “49. Targi Sztuki Ludowej w Kazimierzu Dolnym [The 49th Folk Art Fair in Kazimierz Dolny].”
Twórczość Ludowa 3–4: 5–6.

Part 3. Creating the ICH safeguarding system – current challenges and solutions

“Sprawozdanie Rady Naukowej STL [Report of the Scientific Council of the Association of Folk Artists].” 2014.
Twórczość Ludowa 3–4: 11–12.
“Sprawozdanie Zarządu Głównego STL (2010–2013) [Report of the Executive Board of the Association of Folk
Artists (2010–2013)].” 2014. Twórczość Ludowa 3–4: 3–4.
Stowarzyszenie Twórców Ludowych. 2017a. “Twórczość Ludowa [Folk creativity].” Accessed July 16. http://zgstl.pl/
wydawnictwa/tworczosc-ludowa/.
Stowarzyszenie Twórców Ludowych. 2017b. “Warunki przyjęć do STL [Terms and conditions for admission to the
Association of Folk Artists].” Accessed July 16. http://zgstl.pl/media/dokumenty-do-pobrania/.
“Z historii konkursów literackich imienia Jana Pocka [The history of Jan Pocek literary competition].” 2006. In Odejdę
a po mnie pieśń zostanie. Wydawnictwo pokonkursowe XXXV edycji Ogólnopolskiego Konkursu Literackiego im. Jana
Pocka [My song will remain when I’m gone. Post-competition publications of the 35th edition of the Jan Pocek
National Literary Competition], selected, edited, commented on and compiled by Donat Niewiadomski and
Marta Wójcicka, 109–256. Lublin: Association of Folk Artists.

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PART 4.
ICH AND SUSTAINABLE
DEVELOPMENT

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Lists of intangible cultural
heritage: the beginning
or the end of sustainability?
Eva Románková-Kuminková*

*

Wallachian Open-Air Museum (Valašské muzeum v přírodě), Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, Czech Republic,
e-mail: romankova@vmp.cz.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

Every year, the experience with the implementation of the Convention
teaches us new things. We can already see that the lists will not help
in providing the intangible cultural heritage with sustainability. They will,
however, help to institutionalise it and highlight its existence, perhaps
attract new bearers. But will the lists ever help to secure its undisturbed
and natural development?

Everyone wants to be on the list! The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
of Humanity has become a phenomenon. The 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding
of the Intangible Cultural Heritage as well as the concept of listing intangible cultural heritage are
young and we still do not know the entire impact and the consequences that are going to follow
their implementation and development, although the discussions about potential risks and weaknesses have accompanied the Convention since its very creation (Kurin 2004). The 2003 Convention proposed a multi-layered system of safeguarding instruments, which, if combined and used
properly, would enhance the practice and viability of traditional culture.1 This vision was formed
in a long process of naming and defining problems, terms, and possible solutions, which started
already in the 1970s.2 The extreme complexity of the whole concept of intangible cultural heritage
makes many aspects of the Convention problematic. Nowadays, increasingly more attention is
paid to sustainable development and this subject resonates also in our area of interest. In the
following lines, I want to analyse some issues which arise in relation to the listing of intangible
cultural heritage and sustainability of traditional culture. The lists seem to be the central point to
which the eyes of many communities and politicians turn when they think about the Convention.
However, when reading the Convention, we realise that inventorying intangible cultural heritage
1

For the purpose of this article, I will use the term ‘traditional culture’ for the set of values and living traditions which create the
cultural space of a community, and which the community identifies with. The term ‘intangible cultural heritage’ will be used
as defined by the Convention and exclusively in relation to it. At the same time, I understand intangible cultural heritage as
something consciously highlighted or protected by a community or the institutional environment.

2

For more information about the history of the Convention, see Aikawa 2004.

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Eva Románková-Kuminková during the Forum, with Skirmantė Ramoškaitė, Vida Šatkauskienė and Cai Hua
on her right side and with Matteo Rosati (UNESCO Venice Office) and Albena Georgieva on the left, October 2016.
Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

is only one of many components of a multi-faceted system of safeguarding, and that it is actually
not at the core of preventing traditions from disappearing. It is the viability of traditional culture
that matters the most.
Every inscription on an intangible cultural heritage list means a change or even a breakpoint
in the existence of the inscribed element (hereinafter referred to as element), in the way how its
bearers perceive it, and how their sense of belonging develops. This article aims to present several
examples explaining how the very existence of the lists and the act of inscription influence the
inscribed elements and their bearers, as well as the elements and bearers which are only aspiring
to enter a list. The popularity and awareness of the lists of intangible cultural heritage have been
growing together with the desire of communities and individuals to have ‘their’ elements made
visible through the inscription. Still, it has to be noted that not all processes described below are
complete novelties. Institutional influence on the development of traditional culture has been
present in Europe since the second half of the 19th century (cf. Románková 2016). However, the
existence of the lists significantly intensified its effects.
Before starting a discussion about the lists, let us review the main goals of the Convention.
It was created in order to protect, safeguard, transmit, and promote values of intangible culture
which are currently jeopardised by conflicts, globalisation, ecological catastrophes, and the change
of lifestyles. There are plenty of actions needed to secure the future viability of traditional culture.
They start with identification; next steps include awareness raising, education, capacity building,
documentation and research, and the most important process of all: active transmission. Inclusion
on a list of intangible cultural heritage is only the imaginary ‘cherry on the cake’. However, many
people confuse the inscription with the actual safeguarding and expect that the list will provide
automatic protection for the element. This observation can be applied to national inventories as
well. The lists have become a showcase of the Convention, and many people consider them to be
the only tangible results of the work of UNESCO in relation to intangible cultural heritage, which
is far from the truth.
There are three lists maintained by UNESCO in the field of intangible cultural heritage. The one
that is the most known and used is the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of
Humanity. By December 2016, there had been 365 elements inscribed on it. Higher priority is given
to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding (Urgent Safeguarding
List), with 47 inscriptions so far. The least popular list in terms of the number of nominations is the
Register of Good Safeguarding Practices, which includes 17 inscriptions. The numbers are worry-

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ingly disproportionate when we consider the goals and priorities of each list. The reports of the
Convention’s Secretariat and advisory bodies3 suggest that since 2012, when the Operational
Directives were amended,4 the disproportion between nominations to the Representative List
(indicated as prioritised) and nominations to other Convention mechanisms (including requests for
international assistance greater than $25,000) has grown.5

Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
of Humanity
Let us focus on the most popular of the lists – the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage of Humanity – as the effects of the inscriptions on it are the most visible. The aim of both
the list and its predecessor, the Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage
of Humanity, was to become showcases which would contain ‘the best of’ world intangible culture.
The Representative List is supposed to highlight positive values created by human society, and
bear witness to cultural diversity and richness built by humanity over millennia. The list, just like
the Convention itself, points out that cultural heritage serves individuals as a source of identity and
provides them with a sense of belonging, and thus helps them to define and anchor themselves
within the rapidly changing globalised society.
An inscription on the Representative List is a highly prestigious matter and the States Parties
of the Convention approach it accordingly. It means that political motives can very easily push away
3

See the records from the Intergovernmental Committee meetings (UNESCO 2017c).

4

The Operational Directives were amended by the General Assembly in June 2012. The paragraph 34 reads: ‘The Committee
shall endeavour to examine to the extent possible at least one file per submitting State, within the limit of this overall ceiling,
giving priority to:
i. files from States having no elements inscribed, best safeguarding practices selected or requests for International
Assistance greater than US$100,000 approved, and nominations to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of
Urgent Safeguarding;
ii. multi-national files; and
iii. files from States with the fewest elements inscribed, best safeguarding practices selected or requests for International
Assistance greater than US$100,000 approved, in comparison with other submitting States during the same cycle.
In case they submit several files during the same cycle, submitting States shall indicate the order of priority [emphasis mine
– E.R.] in which they wish their files to be examined and are invited to give priority to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in
Need of Urgent Safeguarding’ (UNESCO 2017d).

5

In 2011, before the Operational Directives were amended, nominations to the Representative List examined by the Subsidiary
Body constituted 54% of the total number of nominations to all four Convention mechanisms. In 2015, this number rose
even to 78%. The average number of nominations submitted to the Representative List compared to the sum of nominations
submitted to all other mechanisms between the years 2012–2016 reaches 76%. Cf. the reports of the Consultative Body,
Subsidiary Body and Evaluation Body from the years 2012–2016 available at www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/events.

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any ideals and well-intentioned wishes of experts to provide responsible international protection.
Michael Dylan Foster (2011) even sees the list as a normative construct which can be used as a political tool of privilege or exclusion. Thus on the one hand, the Representative List promotes the goals
and ideals of the Convention, and on the other hand it creates space for political and institutional
manipulation. A visible evidence of the prestige aspect and the desire for visibility is the fact that
the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in many
cases does not respect the recommendations of its advisory bodies – formerly the Subsidiary and
Consultative Bodies, currently the Evaluation Body. While the Committee practically never doubts
positive recommendations, it regularly reverses negative evaluations by experts from the fields of
ethnology and anthropology, and inscribes elements which according to a consensus of 12 independent experts do not meet one or more criteria for inscription. This process usually follows
the recommendations to refer a nomination, but it also applies to the recommendations not to
inscribe an element.6 A popular argument justifying this act is that the nominating communities
will be disappointed. That certainly is true. However, without an examination process and clear
rules of acceptance, the maintenance of the list would be impossible, the idea of a showcase would
be lost, and the list, as well as the Convention, would be discredited.
One of the touchstones according to which nominations are evaluated is ‘representativeness’.
But how should we decide which element is representative? Following our own subjective opinion,
our erudition, or should we select the elements which are attractive from the perspective of foreign
countries? And who is entitled to decide which element is more representative than another, and
according to which criteria? What role do the communities and tradition bearers play in the selection process? Are they able to collaborate and nominate their representatives? International experience proves that although many examples of good practice exist, it is not always possible, and the

6

For example, see the case of the Ukrainian nomination of ‘Petrykivka decorative painting as a phenomenon of the Ukrainian
ornamental folk art’ examined by the Intergovernmental Committee in 2013. It was the first nomination submitted by Ukraine.
The Subsidiary Body identified two criteria as not met. After very strong diplomatic pressure exerted on members of the
Committee, the element was inscribed on the list. Cf. the recommendation of the Subsidiary Body and the decision of the
Committee (UNESCO 2013a; 2013b).
In 2016, the Intergovernmental Committee went even further. The expert Evaluation Body, which examined the nominations
to the Representative List, advised the committee to refer 19 nominations because the files did not prove that all criteria for
inscription were satisfied. The Intergovernmental Committee however did not respect the thorough expert evaluation and
decided to inscribe 15 of these elements. In two cases, 4 (!) criteria were not met. It was not the technical details that were at
stake, but the very question whether the element does or does not constitute intangible cultural heritage as defined by the
Convention, whether the community was involved in the nomination process, and whether adequate safeguarding measures
were proposed. Cf. the report of the Evaluation Body and the Decisions by the Intergovernmental Committee (UNESCO
2016a; 2016b).

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inscriptions often become the bone of contention among bearers of the same or similar elements,
let alone cultural heritage shared across national borders. As an example, let us imagine a situation
when a particular type of embroidery from one particular village or region is selected as representative, and it is nominated to the list. How will the other communities of embroiderers react? Will
they be satisfied that a representative of their craft was chosen on their behalf, or will they believe
that embroidery they produce is comparably or maybe even more valuable and representative,
and should have been chosen instead? Both situations can happen and many similar ones have
already been dealt with. Valdimar Tr. Hafstein argued already in 2004 that the principle of this kind
of selection copies the very nature of intangible heritage:
The system of heritage … is structured on exclusion: it gives value to certain things rather than others with
reference to an assortment of criteria that can only ever be indeterminate. In this respect, heritage and lists
are not unlike one another: both depend on selection, both decontextualize their objects from their immediate surroundings and recontextualize them with reference to other things designated or listed. It is hardly
surprising, then, that listing seems constantly to accompany heritage making (Hafstein 2009).

Another brain teaser is the problem of multinational nominations. This category was created in
a spirit of cooperation between nations. Indeed, countries and nations share elements of intangible
culture. In some countries, collaboration works well and the elements at stake are genuinely historically shared. We can mention puppetry in Slovakia and Czechia inscribed in 2016, or technology
of blueprinting textiles which is being prepared for nomination by several Central European countries, namely Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Germany. The technology is invariable, while the patterns differ depending on the provenience of the products. For other nations
however, mutual collaboration within a common cultural space is often an insolvable problem, as
we can see for example in the Caucasus region. There is a group of multinational inscriptions of
elements which have common foundations but seem to have very different expressions in each
nominating country. The most peculiar case is falconry. It has been nominated by 18 countries so
far, while almost every year new countries join the nomination (UNESCO 2017a). These countries
include United Arab Emirates, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the
Syrian Arab Republic. UNESCO uses this nomination as an example of good practice in international
collaboration, which it certainly is. However, the expressions of the living tradition of falconry, their
historical and contemporary cultural and social meanings in the mentioned countries are incomparable. Another interesting example of a multinational inscription, where its subject can be clearly

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defined only with difficulties and it rather embraces a wide range of national, regional, and local
traditions, is the Mediterranean diet, stretching from Greece and Cyprus to Spain and Morocco
(UNESCO 2017b).
A complication of the whole system shows that unlike the heritage sites inscribed on the World
Heritage List under the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and
Natural Heritage, elements of intangible culture are examined by experts who cannot physically
visit the communities of bearers and become personally acquainted with the elements and their
environment. They are obliged to evaluate only the information included in the nomination form,
10 photographs, and a 5 to 10-minute video. The mechanism has very clear rules and once they
learn the philosophy and language of the Convention, they are able to examine and evaluate any
nomination, from carpet weaving in central Asia, ship building in the Middle East, African rites of
passage or European beer culture, to East-Asian calligraphy. The nomination form contains very
precise instructions on how each section should be filled and what kind of information examiners
seek. The Secretariat regularly updates the nomination forms to make the work of the proposers
easier. However, many writers are not able to follow these instructions, whereas others know
exactly how to formulate their argumentation. Thus, the success of a nomination often depends
on the rhetoric and writing skills of its authors.7

National inventories
Intangible cultural heritage lists have their analogies in the national inventories. According to the
Operational Directives of the Convention each state, in order to ensure identification of its intangible cultural heritage with the aim to safeguard it, should ‘draw up, in a manner geared to its own
situation, one or more inventories of the intangible cultural heritage present in its territory. These
inventories [should] be regularly updated’ (UNESCO 2017e). Each country fulfils this obligation
in a different manner. In some countries, there is only one inventory divided into several sections
according to the domains of intangible culture. In other countries, there are more lists – a representative list, a list of elements requiring urgent safeguarding, as well as a list of best safeguarding
7

The work of the Intergovernmental Committee and the procedure of inscription was discussed and analysed by Ľubica
Voľanská and Juraj Hamar – Slovak representatives in the General Assembly and regular observers in the Intergovernmental
Committee meetings – in 2015 (Hamar and Voľanská 2015).

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practices. The rules for inscription and the degree of institutional involvement (of research centres,
museums, etc.) vary. In some countries, a bottom-up approach that inspires communities to be the
main initiators of nominations and safeguarding is strictly preferred. Universal conditions for maintaining a national inventory also include regular updating and the participation of communities
of tradition bearers; an inscription in the national inventory is a necessary prerequisite for a nomination to any of the UNESCO lists.
The Czech Republic maintains the List of Intangible Elements of Traditional Folk Culture of the
Czech Republic (Seznam nemateriálních statků tradiční lidové kultury České republiky). This list is
modelled according to the UNESCO Representative List, with the option of designating an already
inscribed element as endangered or extinct based on the results of the periodic revision of the
element by the National Institute of Folk Culture (Národní ústav lidové kultury). This option has not
been used so far. An inscription of an element on the national list is furthermore conditioned by
its inclusion on the regional list of intangible cultural heritage. These lists are mainly modelled on
the national inventory and they are also representative. The question is whether the regional and
national lists should be conceived as ‘the best of selections’ – with the criterion of representativeness as a central idea – or rather as inventories that witness the cultural richness of the country and
respect individual regional and local variants of the same elements.
Although UNESCO always strives to create space for different interpretations, it still applies
the same methodology and terminology on the global level. Let us look more closely at one of the
challenges brought about by these unifications and in particular, at the way in which the Czech
Republic deals with it. The fundamental issue is terminology. The term intangible cultural heritage
is replaced by the phrase ‘traditional folk culture’. The definition of this term can be found in the
Methodological Guidelines for Maintaining the ‘List of Intangible Elements of Traditional Folk Culture
of the Czech Republic’ (Ministerstvo kultury 2012) and in other governmental and legal documents.
It fully corresponds with the definition of intangible cultural heritage as stated in the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. However, although both definitions
are identical, the connotation of the Czech term in the minds of Czech people, including some
experts, does not necessarily correspond with the global perception of the concept of intangible
cultural heritage. Primarily, because of the word ‘folk’, which somehow narrows the boundaries
of intangible cultural heritage to only folklore and traditional culture, mainly that of rural and
working class environment. This perception has its roots in Central-European historical experience,
and it is influenced by its ethnographic approach towards traditional and folk culture. According

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to UNESCO, intangible cultural heritage also includes elements which are not considered as part
of folk culture in the Central European sense of the word, but instead are understood as a source
of cultural and social identity: as cultural elements taught in academia, or highly specialised crafts.
Calligraphy, coffee or beer culture, classical horsemanship, martial arts or yoga are only a few
examples. That is why the experts in the National Council for Traditional Folk Culture (Národní rada
pro tradiční lidovou kulturu) have to face many challenges with the nominations to the national
inventory. Some nominated elements do comply with the definition of intangible cultural heritage;
however, they do not unambiguously belong to the category of ‘folk’, which causes confusion and
stirs discussions. Nevertheless, each such ambiguity so far has been positively resolved, and thus
such elements have been inscribed.

Being on the list…
After explaining the basic facts about the Representative List and national inventories, let us look
at the life of the elements after their listing. We have been able to observe the impact of the
inscriptions merely for one decade, since 2008 to be precise. This period of time does not seem
long enough for their objective assessment. Yet, for some of them, one can already be provided.
General observations below are complemented by concrete examples from the Czech Republic.
Firstly, positive effects of inscriptions include an increase of the visibility of intangible cultural
heritage and, in particular, of the elements inscribed. This helps communities to appreciate their
cultural heritage and inspires others to search for their own cultural roots. The inscription can be
compared to winning a prize. Tradition bearers and their governments feel awarded, and perceive
that their culture is valued by the rest of the world. This notion strengthens their feeling of belongingness and consolidates their connection with local tradition and other members of their community. Inscriptions are very rich sources of pride for the tradition bearers. Another asset of the whole
mechanism is the fact that it stirs discussion about intangible cultural heritage on different levels,
including government and the media.
What is more, one inscription can inspire another, and one community can set a positive
example which is followed by other communities. Moreover, highlighting the element itself allows
for a whole range of associated details to become visible as well, e.g. embroidery, or rituals which
are accompanied by the inscribed folklore expressions. This multiplying effect has been witnessed

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Ride of the Kings at Navalis festival in Prague, 2015. Photo by Martin Divíšek, Pražský deník.

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in many countries, including the Czech Republic. In 2005, ‘Slovácko verbuňk, recruit dance’ was
proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. In 2008, this proclamation was transformed into an inscription on the Representative List. Verbuňk dance is a male
solo dance practiced in the southeast of the Czech Republic in the ethnographic region called
Slovácko. In the neighbouring region of Wallachia, men practice another solo dance: odzemek,
which is related to different historical and ethnographic circumstances and has a different character. Thus, the inscription of verbuňk activated the odzemek dancers, who were convinced that
their dance deserved the same attention and tributes. They addressed the Wallachian Open-Air
Museum, which has been providing space for the presentation of odzemek since its foundation
in 1925 and started a bottom-up safeguarding process with the aim to achieve the inscription
on the Representative List. The safeguarding measures included the foundation of a specialised
dedicated documentation centre within the museum, collection of all kinds of documentation
such as photographs, articles, and systematic video records of all events related to the dance. It
also included organising seminars for the dancers and most importantly, establishing the annual
School of Young Odzemek Dancers. Every year, the course produces new dancers who continue
to develop their newly acquired dancing skills in their local folk dance groups. The director of the
Wallachian Open-Air Museum established the Council for Wallachian Odzemek Dance (Rada pro
valašský odzemek), an advisory board which consists of dancers, former dancers, masters, and
teachers of odzemek, as well as organisers of folklore events and ethnologists. Odzemek dancers
regularly perform the dance in the museum during different public events, and since the 1980s
the museum hosts a dance competition in it. Odzemek dance was inscribed on the List of Intangible
Elements of Traditional Folk Culture of the Czech Republic in 2012. The Ministry of Culture (Ministerstvo kultury České republiky) made the nomination to the Representative List conditional on
collaboration with other Carpathian countries sharing the element (Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and
Romania). So far, however, odzemek has not been nominated to the UNESCO List.
Another move that the nomination process provokes is the commitment of the state and the
bearers to safeguard the element. From the moment of inscription, letting the element deteriorate or come to an end changes from a natural process of abandoning something that is obsolete
to the local community to jeopardizing the viability of general intangible cultural heritage.
The inscriptions, however, have their shortcomings. First of all, once an element is inscribed, the
attention of the state, media, academic and other documentary institutions – especially museums
– is turned towards it. Thus, the ‘living conditions’ of the element change. It ceases to belong

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exclusively to the community; instead, a range of stakeholders become responsible for different
areas of its safeguarding. The care and attention themselves naturally are positive values, but
under certain conditions, they can bring damage and irreversible consequences. First of all, any
act of prior, natural transmission or safeguarding of the element may become conscious and artificial, determined by the safeguarding plan. There are various levels of institutional interference
under different circumstances; for example, researchers and experts visit the localities in order
to document and monitor the elements much more frequently than before, and advisory boards
and expert groups ‘helping’ the communities to safeguard their elements are created. Depending
on the individual conditions in a country or on the character of the inscribed element8, certain
elements may register hardly any change as a result, but others can fully succumb to the demands
of external subjects.
Furthermore, interventions by expert institutions aimed at living traditions and discussions
provoked by experts gradually change the self-reflection of the bearers. As a result, the status of
cultural heritage changes the living tradition, giving it a different rank. Cultural heritage becomes
suddenly accentuated by the community and consciously protected; thus in a way losing the spontaneous quality of transmission; it becomes canonised or even formalised.9 The sociologist Anthony
Giddens (1999) defines cultural heritage as ‘severed from the lifeblood of tradition’, that implies
‘the experience of everyday life’. Variability is one of the basic qualities of traditional culture. Every
performer contributes to the fundamental outline with his or her own expression. Traditional
culture also changes across time and space in reaction to the needs and preferences of its bearers,
as well as social, political and economic conditions. However, the higher the level of protection (via
regional, national, or world lists), the higher the risk of a loss of spontaneity and natural variability.
This is demonstrated, among other things, by the search for the ‘right’ forms. We have seen many
cases of elements inscribed on the Representative List, whose bearers have disputes about the
‘right versions’ of their customs, dances, or folklore expressions. Thus, instead of uniting communities who share common heritage, the inscriptions often cause arguments and quarrels.
In the case of the ‘Ride of the Kings in the south-east of the Czech Republic’,10 the inscription
of the element helped to unite together inhabitants of four villages, who in some cases used to
8

While for rituals external attention and involvement of strangers can be fatal, for crafts it can mean desirable promotion.
However, in their case the benefits have limits as well.

9

Formalisation is generally feared by the UNESCO, whose staff and experts are aware of the risks. This aspect is studied very
closely during the process of evaluation of nominations. However, it can never be fully foreseen.

10

The element was inscribed in 2011.

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be traditional rivals. Immediately after the inscription, the National Institute of Folk Culture established an advisory council composed of tradition bearers, representatives of the communities, and
experts from regional museums and other people involved in the organisation of the festival. This
step led to the creation of a platform where all four communities would meet and plan common
events related to the tradition but not necessarily its counterparts.11 However, the council has
also witnessed a division and argument over the ownership of the element and over its proper
presentation. This happened when a supporter of a certain village accused tradition bearers from
another village of not keeping the ritual in complete conformity with the tradition.12 He suggested
that this particular village should be removed from the list, although the nomination did not state
the need for uniformity of the tradition and respected local differences.
Another example is the verbuňk recruit dance. An advisory board consisting of tradition bearers,
experts, and folk dance group leaders was established in the National Institute of Folk Culture
for the same reason as the board of the Ride of the Kings. As verbuňk becomes more and more
popular, it is adopted in villages and regions where it had died out decades ago or even where it had
never existed. New dancers want to participate in the national competition which, however, has
well-formulated rules including the right dress code and compulsory choice of a regional variant
which has to be performed in the right way.13 Thus, the dancers who come from a region where no
specific and known variant of verbuňk can be traced have to choose a variant from another region.
The advisory board then discusses issues such as whether the dancers in such cases can wear the
costume from their own locality or whether they should borrow a costume from the region whose
variant they choose to dance. Therefore, on the one hand, experts and selected groups of tradition
bearers watch over the ‘purity’ of the dance, on the other hand, however, acting as external powers,
they directly affect the spontaneous development of the tradition and limit the self-expression
of tradition bearers. Expert institutions are thus no longer mere observers and researchers; they
directly participate in the formation of the tradition.
11

For example, the presentation of the Ride of the Kings at the international folklore festival organised by the National Institute
of Folk Culture (2012) or a mass held in a local pilgrimage church for the purpose of blessing the riders and the rides in all four
villages (2014).

12

Particularly he objected, in accordance with his own personal conviction and experience from one particular village, that the
riders participate in the ritual more than once in their lives, some of them are thirty years old and even older, and that the
date of the festival has shifted from May to September. The ritual in each of the four villages has developed in line with the
historical circumstances and with the needs of tradition bearers – just like the Convention expects. The period of socialism in
Czechoslovakia (1948–1989) brought profound changes in all areas of life and folk culture had to respond to these changes
and evolve.

13

Since 1986, the national competition has been annually organised by the National Institute of Folk Culture.

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Another well-described impact of the inscription of any element – material or intangible – is
excessive tourism. Lists of cultural heritage work like magnets. Again, it has its advantages as well
as downsides. Awareness-raising is one of the main goals of the lists and it works very well. Unfortunately, if it turns an element into a sensation, the demand of tourists can become unbearable
and can lead to the destruction of the most valuable aspects of the tradition, and turn it into a mere
attraction that is devoid of its meanings. It depends on the tolerance of the tradition bearers in
allowing this to happen, but often they simply cannot prevent it as the reputation of their intangible element begins to live its own life.
Although it is rather rare, some communities do not submit to general enthusiasm about the lists
and decide to protect their traditions by leaving them hidden from the public attention. In 2012,
a community of approximately ten villages in the east of the Czech Republic was addressed by
the National Institute of Folk Culture with the suggestion of preparing a nomination of St. Nicolas
masked processions to the national inventory (not to the UNESCO list!). The processions are among
the best-preserved and most archaic rituals in the region of Wallachia. However, the mayors and
representatives of these villages almost unanimously rejected the idea and expressed their wish
to be left alone in order to conduct and protect their traditions in the manner of their own choice.
According to them, the inscription was perceived as a risk rather than as an advantage. The main
argument included the fear of excessive attention of experts and any kind of interference that
could be exercised by external authorities and could prevent the communities from conducting
the tradition at their own discretion. However, this kind of understanding is rare. Nevertheless, the
desire to have an element inscribed can be governed by different motivations: the honest belief
in the visions of the system or the exceptionality of the local, regional, or national tradition. The
motives can also include raising the visibility of the country, attracting tourists, or include political
and diplomatic reasons.
The aspect of tourism and exploitation for the purpose of public entertainment has another
form – transmission of inscribed elements from their natural environment to another location
based on the demand of external subjects. The chapter by Adina Hulubaş and her description of
the changes to the Căluş ritual is a perfect example of this process.14 Presentation of inscribed
elements outside of their natural contexts can also be initiated by organisations responsible for

14

See the chapter ‘Securing the future of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Romania in a sustainable way. Benefits and subsequent
risks’ by Adina Hulubaş, in this volume.

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the safeguarding themselves, for example, ministries of culture.15 This usually happens in order
to introduce the elements to the wider public, raise awareness about them, or promote the
process of inscription. As the elements become well-known and popular, their attraction potential
increases and the bearers receive offers and invitations to perform their dances, music, and rituals
outside their localities, traditional venues, and dates. This can be occasional, but it can also become
a rule, which in extreme cases might lead to a complete decontextualisation of the tradition.
In the Czech Republic, such situation emerged in 2015, when the organisers of the St. John
of Nepomuk’s festival Navalis held annually in Prague invited the bearers of the Ride of the Kings
to participate in their procession.16 Villagers and riders from three villages inscribed on the Representative List joined the religious procession which was subsequently blessed by Cardinal Dominik
Duka and greeted by the mayor of Prague, members of parliament and senators. The Ride of the
Kings was an unusual spectacle for the visitors and natives of Prague. After learning about the
promise of its members to take up the offer, the Ministry of Culture immediately reacted and
urged the communities not to do it. It argued that taking the element out of its natural environment and original context means a violation of the commitments given to the UNESCO by the act
of nomination and inscription. However, the bearers disagreed. The Ride of the Kings had been
presented in Prague already in 1895 during the Czechoslovak Ethnographic Exhibition and several
times in the first half of the 20th century, in front of the political elites of that time. For the tradition
bearers, performing the ride in the capital city meant an exception accepted out of pride and the
wish to show their cultural heritage elsewhere, as well as to experience an adventure which would
be remembered by the community for a long time. When they were making the decision, they
drew on their ancestors’ decisions and experience. If we thus look at the situation from the point
of view of our argument, the question at stake is: who has the right to decide how the inscribed
elements should be presented? Is it the ministry and expert institutions? They take on the responsibility for conservation of the element in the state that is described in the nomination documentation. Thus, should they decide on such matters? And is it correct at all to watch elements carefully
and make sure that the community does not deliberately present it or change it in a manner that
15

Right after the inscription of the Ride of the Kings, the horse procession was performed at the international folklore festival in
Strážnice. The festival is organised by the National Institute of Folk Culture and the event was planned as a celebration of the
inscription on the Representative List as well as a promotion of the element.

16

The initiators of the idea were tradition bearers from one of the villages, who offered their participation during a coincidental
meeting with the festival organiser. The organiser became interested in the idea and the negotiations ended up in an
agreement that riders from three out of four villages stated in the nomination as communities of bearers would present the
Ride of the Kings at Navalis.

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suits it? Respectively, are the bearers still entitled to handle their elements as they wish even in
situations which may seem to jeopardize the complexity of the element? In this particular case,
observed from the perspective of the Convention, the standpoints of both sides seem to be legitimate on their own terms.
We have posed many questions and described situations for which we still do not have acceptable answers and solutions. Our experience still remains limited. Every year, however, the experience with the implementation of the Convention teaches us new things. We can already see that
the lists will not help in providing the intangible cultural heritage with sustainability. They will,
however, help to institutionalise it and highlight its existence, perhaps attract new bearers. But
will the lists ever help to secure its undisturbed and natural development? It does not seem so. The
process of elaborating the text of the Convention and its Operational Directives was laborious. It
took several decades, hundreds of hours of discussions, and numerous documents filled with draft
ideas. Thus, similar effort should be devoted to analysing how the implementation of the Convention affects intangible cultural heritage and – as we treat it as a separate phenomenon in this paper
– what impact it exerts on traditional culture. This analysis should result in proposals that would
lead to a reassessment of the whole system and offer solutions drawing us closer to the fulfilment
of the visions which inspired the creation of the Convention.

References
Aikawa, Noriko. 2004. “A Historical Overview of the Preparation of the UNESCO International Convention for the
Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.” Museum International 56 (1–2): 137–49.
Foster, Michael Dylan. 2011. “The UNESCO Effect: Confidence, Defamiliarization, and a New Element in the
Discourse on a Japanese Island.” Journal of Folklore Research 48 (1): 63–107.
Giddens, Anthony. 1999. Runaway World: How Globalisation Is Reshaping Our Lives. London: Profile.
Hafstein, Valdimar Tr. 2009. “Intangible Heritage as a List: From Masterpieces to Representation.” In Intangible
Heritage, edited by Laurajane Smith and Natsuko Akagawa, 93–111. New York: Routledge.
Hamar, Juraj, and Ľubica Voľanská. 2015. “Between Politics, Science and Bearers: Implementation of the UNESCO
Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.” Národopisná revue 25 (5): 35–46.
Kurin, Richard. 2004. “Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in the 2003 UNESCO Convention: A Critical
Appraisal.” Museum International 56 (1–2): 66–77.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

Ministerstvo kultury. 2012. “Methodological Guidelines for Maintaining the ‘List of Intangible Elements of Traditional Folk Culture of the Czech Republic’.” Accessed January 24, 2017.
https://www.mkcr.cz/the-list-of-intangible-elements-of-traditional-folk-culture-of-the-czech-republic-1468.
html?lang=en.
Románková, Eva. 2016. “Proměny tradiční lidové kultury v souvislostech snah o její ochranu a revitalizaci (na příkladu
lidového oděvu a tance na Valašsku) [Transformations of folk culture in the context of its protection and revitalisation (with folk dress and folk dance in Wallachia as case studies)].” Ph.D. diss., Brno: Masaryk University.
UNESCO. 2013a. “Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Eighth
session, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2 to 7 December 2013, Decisions.” http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/doc/src/
ITH-13-8.COM-Decisions-EN.doc.
UNESCO. 2013b. “Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Eighth
session, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2 to 7 December 2013, Report of the Subsidiary Body on Its Work in 2013 and
Examination of Nominations for Inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of
Humanity.” http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/doc/src/ITH-13-8.COM-8+Add.2-EN.doc.
UNESCO. 2016a. “Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Eleventh
session, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 28 November to 2 December 2016, Decisions.” http://www.unesco.org/culture/
ich/doc/src/ITH-16-11.COM-Decisions-EN.docx.
UNESCO. 2016b. “Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Eleventh
session, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 28 November to 2 December 2016, Examination of Nominations for Inscription
on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” http://www.unesco.org/culture/
ich/doc/src/ITH-16-11.COM-10.b-EN.docx.
UNESCO. 2017a. “Falconry, a Living Human Heritage.” Accessed January 24. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/
en/RL/falconry-a-living-human-heritage-01209.
UNESCO. 2017b. “Mediterranean Diet”. Accessed January 24. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/mediterranean-diet-00884.
UNESCO. 2017c. “Meetings on Intangible Cultural Heritage (Co-)Organized by UNESCO”. Accessed January 9. http://
www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/events?categ=2017&country=&keyword=&field_office=&domain=&safe_
meas=&text=.
UNESCO. 2017d. “Operational Directives for the Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.” http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/doc/src/ICH-Operational_Directives-6.GA-PDF-EN.pdf.
UNESCO. 2017e. “Text of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage”. Accessed
January 24. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/convention.

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Intangible cultural
heritage and sustainable
development: case study
of Suiti cultural space
in Latvia
Anita Vaivade*

*

Assistant professor, researcher, Latvian Academy of Culture (Latvijas Kultūras akadēmija), Riga, Latvia,
e-mail: anita.vaivade@lka.edu.lv.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

The Suiti nomination and safeguarding plan demonstrate clearly
the necessary links between cultural, educational, and regional
development policies and the importance of having a conceivably
holistic view in safeguarding cultural spaces.

The Suiti is a community of around 2000 persons of Suiti ancestry, characterised by distinct cultural
traditions and Catholic religion, inhabiting the Western part of Latvia near the Baltic Sea (UNESCO
2016d). It had expressed interest in the UNESCO framework for safeguarding intangible cultural
heritage even before a national policy and ICH inventory were developed in Latvia. After adopting
a national law on the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
in November 2004, Latvia deposited its instrument of acceptance in January 2005, becoming the
8th country to join the Convention. When the national policy documents were gradually prepared
and discussed, the Suiti community leaders, most significantly Grigorijs Rozentāls, took the initiative to learn the experiences of other communities involved in UNESCO ICH programmes, starting
with the closest neighbours: the ‘Kihnu cultural space’ in Estonia that had been proclaimed Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003 (UNESCO 2016b).1 A joint visit was
organised in October 2007 that involved community members and representatives from the
Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia (Latvijas Republikas Kultūras ministrija), as well as
Latvian National Commission for UNESCO (UNESCO Latvijas Nacionālā komisija).2 Soon after, the
preparation of ‘Suiti cultural space’ nomination was initiated and received financial assistance from
the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund for a video necessary for the nomination. At the
time, the community had a clear idea that the nomination needs to be submitted to the UNESCO
1

For the ICH elements originally proclaimed masterpieces, no nomination files are published on UNESCO website.

2

At that time, fulfilling responsibilities as the culture, communication, and information sector director at the Latvian National
Commission for UNESCO, I had a possibility to join this trip to the Kinnu island.

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List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and this conviction has not
changed since that time (Vaivade 2015, 137).
The ‘Suiti cultural space’ nomination was inscribed in 2009, and this initiative of the Suiti community continues to be of tremendous importance as a reference for other communities in Latvia that
consider possible nominations for UNESCO ICH lists. ‘Suiti cultural space’ is one of two nominations
by Latvia to the UNESCO ICH lists, along with the ‘Baltic song and dance celebrations’ nominated
jointly with Estonia and Lithuania, recognised in 2003 as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible
Heritage of Humanity and subsequently inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible
Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008 (UNESCO 2016a).
Safeguarding Suiti cultural space as inscribed on UNESCO’s Urgent Safeguarding List was
a community driven initiative. Thus, all the subsequent standpoints that concerned the community development needs and challenges were based primarily on community members’ perceptions and convictions. These are extensively witnessed by a number of major documents: ‘Suiti
cultural space’ nomination (2009), a proposition of a safeguarding plan; memorandums of cooperation among partners involved at the national level (2010 and 2016); and the state report of
Latvia on the element inscribed (2013).3 Further exploration of sustainable development concerns
in regard to the safeguarding of the Suiti cultural space is to a large extent based on these documents, and on the personal experience of the involvement in nomination drafting and reporting
processes, as well as on the participant observation of various community events organised for the
purpose of ICH safeguarding.

Prospects for development – safeguarding plan
The safeguarding plan elaborated as a part of the ‘Suiti cultural space’ nomination has become
the primary reference for further steps concerning various activities, carried out mainly on the
national level, for safeguarding Suiti cultural traditions. While the nomination explores the
diversity of characteristics of the cultural space, the nomination text clearly states that ‘depopulation of this rural area today is the major risk for the long-term sustainability of the Suiti
cultural space’. In other words, the motivation of community members to continue living in the
3

Nomination and state report of Latvia are available online, see UNESCO 2016d.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

area was identified as a major challenge that demands policy measures that exceed the scope
of cultural policy.
The Suiti nomination and safeguarding plan therefore demonstrate clearly the necessary links
between cultural, educational, and regional development policies and the importance of having
a conceivably holistic view in safeguarding cultural spaces. The plan includes five major parts,
namely: education (local history in school curricula, learning of traditional music instruments and
local dialect); revitalisation of disappearing elements (wedding traditions, bagpipe playing, traditional costumes; research and publicity (local crafts, drone singing festival); cultural environment
(restoration of the local medieval castle and municipal centres); and finally, ‘long-term sustainability’ (state-developed programme for a sustainable development of the Suiti cultural space, assistance for transport infrastructure, and restoration of religious buildings).
Although neither the Ministry of Culture nor any state institutions have established a national
policy programme designated specifically for the Suiti, the State Culture Capital Fund (Valsts
Kultūrkapitāla fonds) and other funding sources support the Suiti community projects. Meanwhile, national partnerships have been strengthened for the purposes of safeguarding the Suiti
cultural space. In this regard, the respective cooperation memorandums should be mentioned
in particular.

National and international partnerships – memorandums
The major actors in implementing the Suiti cultural space safeguarding activities are local
non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Associations that have been of particular importance include the Ethnic Culture Centre ‘Suiti’ (Etniskās kultūras centrs “Suiti”) and foundation ‘Suitu novads’.4 Since the inscription of the nomination other NGOs have been founded,
which shows the growing activity aimed at elaborating common safeguarding initiatives. The
scope of activities of local NGOs includes education, community driven research projects,
restoration of religious buildings and objects, 5 establishment of local collections of historic
handicrafts, raising the visibility of local craftsmen and other actions. Part of these activities
4

See www.suitunovads.lv/en.

5

A collection of historical catholic liturgical vestments, gradually assembled, restored, and preserved with personal commitment
of priest Andris Vasiļevskis has been inscribed on the Latvian national inventory of movable cultural monuments.

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Suiti community representatives, Riga, National Library of Latvia, 17 August 2016, © Reinis Oliņš / Latvian National
Centre for Culture.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

was designed to involve various generations in the common undertakings and fostering local
economic activities.
The Suiti community is situated on the territory of three municipalities in the Kurzeme
region in Latvia and has valuable experience in reinforcing cooperation among municipalities in terms of cultural life and the overall wellbeing of the community. Municipalities are
indeed the closest partners for NGOs to carry out various ICH safeguarding activities, and
also the ones taking direct responsibility for community development in social, economic,
environmental, and other terms. In order to strengthen the partnerships between NGOs
and municipalities, as well as with some state institutions, there have been two consecutive
memorandums of cooperation signed in 2010 and 2016 since the inscription of ‘Suiti cultural
space’ on the Urgent Safeguarding List. The partners involved were the Ethnic Culture Centre
‘Suiti’ NGO representing the Suiti community, Ministry of Culture, Latvian National Centre for
Culture (Latvijas Nacionālais kultūras centrs), three local municipalities – Alsunga, Kuldīga,
and Ventspils – and the Latvian National Commission for UNESCO. The memorandums have
been based on the Suiti cultural space safeguarding plan, and mainly express the good will
of all parties to contribute, as well as to fundraise the activities envisaged to safeguard
and develop Suiti cultural space, including its overall sustainability. Neither the Ministry of
Education and Science (Izglītības un zinātnes ministrija), nor the Ministry of Environmental
Protection and Regional Development (Vides aizsardzības un reģionālās attīstības ministrija)
have participated in signing these memorandums, which shows that in the fields of education and regional development there is still a certain distance of policy-makers towards the
domain of ICH safeguarding. No financial sources are directly connected to these memorandums; nevertheless, they serve as a reference for concrete cooperation activities and applications for further assistance within existing funding schemes.
Apart from the established national cooperation modes, the international partnerships
have been of significant importance, particularly the learning experiences of the communities in neighbouring Estonia. Over the years, the interest that initiated with Kihnu cultural
space has grown towards extensive and well-thought cooperation with the Seto community in
Southern Estonia (UNESCO 2016c; Estonia–Latvia Programme 2014).

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Publication Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage: Latvian Experiences, Riga, National Library of Latvia, 17 August
2016, © Reinis Oliņš / Latvian National Centre for Culture.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

Community perspectives and challenges – state report
State report on the safeguarding of the Suiti cultural space was prepared four years after the
inscription on the Urgent Safeguarding List and was submitted in December 2013. The report was
elaborated on the basis of numerous group discussions and interviews with the Suiti community
members, and with their continuous involvement and concluding consent. Thus, it was intended
to reflect as closely as possible the esteem of the community towards the safeguarding of their
cultural heritage, together with its perspectives and challenges. For an assessment of the viability
and current risks, three major aspects connected to sustainable development concerns have been
highlighted by the community members:
1. Demography and practitioners. The community members raised a major concern over the
reducing number of inhabitants, as well as over the issue of selling land that could provoke
a twofold effect – arrival of newcomers that are not concerned with the safeguarding of Suiti
cultural traditions, or on the contrary, people who may become passionate about Suiti culture
and contribute to its safeguarding.
2. Transmission modes. According to the observations of the community, Suiti cultural traditions
are substantially less transmitted within families, and more within schools, which explains the
role of educational institutions in the transmission. At the same time, the challenges of integrating new methods of education have been identified, including a response to the development of information technologies, which is the necessary framework for addressing younger
audiences.
3. Socio-economic factors. Economic development of the area inhabited by the Suiti has been
highlighted as a fundamental issue that is decisive for the sustainability of the Suiti community
and its cultural space. Also, unreliable and insufficient funding was mentioned by the community concerned with the safeguarding activities. They are mainly project-based and compete
with other cultural projects – either on the regional or national level.
Considering the possible connections between the experience of the Suiti community and
the newly adopted Chapter VI of the Operational Directives for the Implementation of the 2003
Convention (‘Safeguarding intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development at the
national level’), it is possible to observe that ‘inclusive social development’ and ‘inclusive economic
development’ are today the pillars which are of primary concern in the case of Suiti.

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Concluding references – national law
At present, new perspectives at the national level are opening for further work on the connections
between ICH and sustainable development. In September 2016, the Latvian Parliament Saeima
adopted the Intangible Cultural Heritage Law.6 Among other issues, it states the responsibility of
the Ministry of Culture to develop a national ICH safeguarding plan involving communities and
other partners (i.e. other ministries). The law also grants certain community rights for the safeguarding of ICH. To mention some: the right to participate in legal, technical, organisational, administrative, and financial measures created and implemented by state administration, including local
government institutions (i.e. on educational programmes); the right to the name of the element of
ICH, and a reference to it, if used for economic or other purposes; as well as the right to information on community’s own element of ICH.
There is another interesting aspect in this regard, and it is the community’s right to refuse to
participate in the measures for safeguarding ICH that are prepared and implemented by other
persons (including the measures organised by the state administration or local government institutions). This means the protection of the community’s freedom to decide in their best interest to
participate or not in the safeguarding activities that are proposed. It serves to reinforce the core
idea that the community should be able to decide on their own interests and ways of safeguarding
their cultural traditions. The national law entered into force in December 2016, and its interpretation and implementation are still awaited and hoped to become a useful framework for defending
the interests and rights of the Suiti community.

References
Estonia–Latvia Programme. 2014. “Setos and Suiti Together.” In Estonia–Latvia Stories 2007–2013, 152–54. Accessed
March 14, 2016. http://www.estlat.eu/summing-up-2007-2013/estonia-latvia-stories.
UNESCO. 2016a. “Baltic Song and Dance Celebrations.” Accessed October 16. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/
en/RL/baltic-song-and-dance-celebrations-00087.

6

Nemateriālā kultūras mantojuma likums, Latvijas Vēstnesis [Latvian Herald] no. 204 (5776), 20 October 2016; English translation
is published on the official portal of Latvian national legislation (www.likumi.lv).

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

UNESCO. 2016b. “Kihnu Cultural Space.” Accessed October 16. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/
kihnu-cultural-space-00042.
UNESCO. 2016c. “Seto Leelo, Seto Polyphonic Singing Tradition.” Accessed October 16. http://www.unesco.org/
culture/ich/en/RL/seto-leelo-seto-polyphonic-singing-tradition-00173.
UNESCO. 2016d. “Suiti Cultural Space.” Accessed October 16. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/USL/suiti-cultural-space-00314.
Vaivade, Anita. 2015. “Suitu kopienas pieredze UNESCO. Saruna ar Grigoriju Rozentālu un Māru Rozentāli / The Suiti
Community at UNESCO. A Conversation with Grigorijs Rozentāls and Māra Rozentāle.” In Nemateriālā kultūras
mantojuma saglabāšana: Latvijas pieredze / Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage: Latvian Experiences, edited
by Anita Vaivade, 132–51. Rīga: Latvijas Nacionālais kultūras centrs. Accessed October 13, 2016. http://www.
unesco.lv/files/unesco_web_a931d609.pdf.

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Vernacular religion
as an element of intangible
heritage in terms
of sustainable development
Katarzyna Smyk*

*

Professor, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Faculty of Humanities, Institute of Cultural Studies, Department of Polish
Culture (Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej, Wydział Humanistyczny, Instytut Kulturoznawstwa, Zakład Kultury Polskiej),
Lublin, Poland, k_smyk@wp.pl.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

… one can easily see a renewed interest in the nature of things, with
religion and religious practices regaining their potential to organise
the world around us and once again considered as a factor that legitimises
the prevailing order. Order, on the other hand, is a sine qua non condition
to achieve balance and harmony in the development of society.

The concept of vernacular religion and sustainable development:
anthropocentrism
When speaking of folk religion1 in the context of sustainable development and the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, I propose that the term ‘vernacular
religion’ should be used – a concept which I believe offers a substantial scope for interpretation,
despite the fact that it has not attained the status of a scientific term just yet. By using this term
I refer to the works of Piotr Kowalski (2002, 2003, 2004). Kowalski starts with the assumption that
One of the most significant domains of vernacular thought must surely be religion, which not only encompasses the catechetical perception of God, transcendence and eschatology, but also the beliefs which serve
as a confirmation of the view of the world as well as of the manner in which one experiences the world
around him and of the prevailing social and ethical order, etc.

He further states that ‘in the societies of the centuries gone by, it was religion that served
as the sole and final guarantee of cultural order’ (Kowalski 2004, 105). He expresses the hope that
even today, religion continues to perform the function of ‘legitimising the existing order’ (Kowalski
2004, 105), which, in the spirit of the UNESCO Convention, may be construed as a precondition in
the process of sustainable cultural and social development (Jasiewicz 2013, 52; Ratajski 2013, 22;
Janikowski 2009).
1

Polish ethnologists have been using the term ‘folk religion’ for the purposes of describing and interpreting religious
phenomena ever since the 1930; this term, founded upon the research of traditional rural communities, continued to form
the basis of all the anthropological interpretations of folk religion and devotional practices in Poland despite being rather
imprecise. For more information please refer to the classic works on the subjects such as Czarnowski 2005, Tomicki 1981 and
Stomma 1986, as well as numerous later works such as Niedźwiedź 2006, Bukraba-Rylska 2008, 510–32.

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Professor Katarzyna Smyk’s speech on the Forum, October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board
of Poland.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

Kowalski construes the term ‘vernacular religion’ as a category which characterises ‘the living
standards of a statistical, religious Pole’, which should be placed
among the most crucial conceptions and motifs inherent to all men. One may even go as far as saying that
the vernacular religious conceptions reflect the cultural patterns which prove to be effective due to their
reliance on simple ‘safe’ … solutions (Kowalski 2004, 106).

Kowalski uses the term ‘simple solutions’ to denote situations wherein a man is free ‘from the
risk and burden of individual decision-making’, which inevitably entails ‘the hardships inherent in
the reflections on the meaning of life and the structure of values’ (Kowalski 2004, 106). In the end,
Kowalski concludes bitterly that
The difficulty inherent in the participation in symbolic order is never on the consumer’s mind, for the
consumer does not even notice the profound erosion of the symbolic interpretation of the world, despite
the constant presence of long-standing signs which have now been reduced to attractive gadgetry (Kowalski
2004, 106–07).

In such situations, ‘the significance of persuasion – effected both on an institutional and on
a mass basis and manifesting itself in the course of everyday life – keeps on increasing’ (Kowalski
2004, 106).
I am referring to the concept of vernacular religion with reference to the UNESCO 2003 Convention for two reasons. First, I am referring this term to the positive understanding of the term ‘vernacular’ as an anthropological and cultural category, one which may also be expressed using the word
‘popular’, i.e. common, practised by the average participants of the given culture. This is because,
insofar as used by logicians, philosophers, sociologists and experts in cultural studies, the term
‘vernacular’ denotes a specific manner of experiencing the world around us as well as a specific
attitude towards it, one that may be equated with naturalism; a natural attitude towards the world
and a natural perception thereof (Kwaśnica 1991, 33; Anusiewicz 1992, 9). Vernacular knowledge,
in turn, may be considered to be the same as collective knowledge, acquired and transmitted
between generations through socially established frames of reference. For the above reason, the
examination of such knowledge will necessarily be closely linked with the principles of the philosophy of common sense – a common sense that is equated with vernacular thinking – as well as
with an anti-scientific strand of humanistic thought (Anusiewicz 1992, 9–10; Hołówka 1986, 173),
even though many scholars refuse to consider vernacularity as being antithetical to the scientific
approach to reality (Kwaśnica 1991, 34; Anusiewicz 1991, 17-18; Maćkiewicz 2000; Krąpiec 1985, 9;
Hołówka 1986, 91–172).

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Secondly, the concept of vernacular religion serves to apply an additional filter – a subjective
one – to the phenomena of folk religious and devotional practices. As a result, the elements relevant to culture bearers – or heritage depositaries, as they are referred to in the UNESCO Convention – are transferred from the universal category of religious practices into the specific category of
vernacular religion. The 2003 Convention promotes heritage elements ‘that communities, groups
and, in some cases, individuals recognise as part of their cultural heritage’,2 believing that they
form an important factor of their cultural identity. This provision reflects the concept of sustainable development, which assumes that ‘the overriding purpose of development is the satisfaction
of human needs on a lasting basis’ (Janikowski 2009, 26), with the principle of anthropocentrism
being considered as the first among the principles of the pillar of ethics: ‘people are – and should
be – in the centre of attention in the development process’ (Janikowski 2009, 26), along with the
inalienable – it must be said – right to freely choose and practice one’s religion3 and the respect
for the traditional forms of expression of one’s faith (Kongregacja ds. Kultu Bożego i Dyscypliny
Sakramentów 2003, 8–25; Stępniak 2010).
In conclusion, both the UNESCO 2003 Convention and the concept of vernacular religion refer
to the emic perspective (the perspective of an insider of the given culture) as well as to the category of vernacularity founded on a subjective, anthropocentric world view.
At this stage, I wish to pose an issue which may be summarised in the form of three questions.
What are the provisions of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural
Heritage concerning the phenomena which comprise vernacular religion? How does this relate to
the traditional Polish system of values? To what extent can the activities performed in a manner
consistent with the Convention – which may be considered to have an institutional persuasive
value – reinforce religious practices and prevent the erosion or trivialisation of the symbolic interpretation of the world, thereby making a positive impact on sustainable development?

2

Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, Paris, 17 October 2003, art. 2 (available online: www.unesco.
org/culture/ich/en/convention).

3

See art. 53 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland: ‘Art. 53. 1. Freedom of conscience and religion shall be ensured
to everyone. 2. Freedom of religion shall include the freedom to profess or to accept a religion by personal choice as well
as to manifest such religion, either individually or collectively, publicly or privately, by worshipping, praying, participating in
ceremonies, performing of rites or teaching. Freedom of religion shall also include possession of sanctuaries and other places
of worship for the satisfaction of the needs of believers as well as the right of individuals, wherever they may be, to benefit
from religious services’ (Konstytucja Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej z dnia 2 kwietnia 1997 r., Dziennik Ustaw [Journal of Laws of the
Republic of Poland] no. 78 item 437, 2 April 1997). One must also state at this stage that this need remains interminable in the
present times as well, as proved by numerous works by various sociologists specialising in religion as well as specialists in the
field of cultural studies (e.g. Mariański 2004; Libiszowska-Żółtkowska 2007; Kupisiński 2015).

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Religion under the UNESCO 2003 Convention
In order to define the place of religion in the context of the UNESCO 2003 Convention, I have
conducted a review of a set of documents which may be considered as having a standard-setting
value as they contain the guidelines in the field of protection of intangible heritage. These include:
1. UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage – an act of international law;
2. Operational Directives for the Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Adopted by the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention4
– a document having the status of secondary law;
3. The publication entitled Intangible Cultural Heritage (UNESCO 2011) – a communication on intangible cultural heritage issued under the supervision of UNESCO; popular publication;
4. Zarządzanie światowym dziedzictwem kulturowym (UNESCO 2015), a Polish translation of the
UNESCO publication Managing Cultural World Heritage, part of the World Heritage Resource
Manual series, published in 2013 – popular publication in the form of a guidebook;
5. Application for inscription of a phenomenon on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage
(along with the regulations, form, commentary and guidelines; National Heritage Board
of Poland, February 2013);5
6. Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe w Polsce (Intangible cultural heritage in Poland; Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa n.d.) – popular publication concerning intangible cultural heritage
in Poland.
Trans-national level
The UNESCO 2003 Convention does not contain the term ‘religiousness’, ‘religion’ or any similar
terms, which remains consistent with the intention of the architects of the Convention itself. It has
been stated in the UNESCO (2011, 48) publication that during the first intergovernmental expert
4

Operational Directives for the Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Adopted
by the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention at its second session (UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, 16 to 19 June
2008), amended at its third session (UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, 22 to 24 June 2010), its fourth session (UNESCO Headquarters,
Paris, 4 to 8 June 2012) and its fifth session (UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, 2 to 4 June 2014), available online: ich.unesco.org/doc/
src/ICH-Operational_Directives-5.GA-PDF-EN.pdf [accessed: 21.03.2016].

5

„Krajowa lista niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego: formularz wniosku zgłoszeniowego [National List of Intangible
Cultural Heritage: nomination application form]”, available online: niematerialne.nid.pl/Dziedzictwo_niematerialne/Krajowa_
inwentaryzacja/Krajowa_lista_NDK [accessed: 7.05.2017].

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Corpus Christi celebrations in Łowicz. Photo by Michał Zalewski, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Celebrations in honour of St Roch with the blessing of animals in Mikstat. Photo Archiwum Diecezjalne Sanktuarium
św. Rocha w Mikstacie, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

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session concerning the draft convention for the safeguarding of intangible heritage held in Paris
in September 2002, ‘A consensus … has been reached as to the non-inclusion of any references to
religion in the field of “social practices, rituals and festive events”’. This attitude was put on a more
formal footing in the Operational Directives, where, in art. 102, it is stated that ‘All parties are encouraged to take particular care to ensure that awareness-raising actions will not: … (c) contribute to
justifying any form of political, social, ethnic, religious, linguistic or gender-based discrimination’.6
For the above reason, the UNESCO brochure, designed in a manner reminiscent of an advertising
brochure and designed to promote the idea of ICH and the 2003 Convention, emphasises that
‘Although religions confer a sense of identity and cultural consistency upon communities, they are
not covered by the Convention in their own right. However, the Convention applies to religiously
inspired cultural practices and means of expression’ (UNESCO 2011, 55). It is suggested later on
that the ‘social practices, rituals and festive events’ section will encompass religious practices.
The term ‘religion’ has also appeared in the same publication, in the sections elaborating the
concepts of performing arts (‘religious dances’ – UNESCO 2011, 78) and of identification and
inventory of ICH (‘religious ceremonies and pilgrimages’, ‘religious practices’ – UNESCO 2011, 67);
descriptions of selected elements of world ICH also feature the use of the term (‘religious rituals’
– UNESCO 2011, 6). ‘The increasing significance of the greatest world religions’ is at the same
time mentioned as one of the threats to intangible cultural heritage, having an impact on the
customs, rituals and festive events, drawing more and more participants away from such practices
and thereby depleting the pool of depositaries (UNESCO 2011, 83).
In the publication entitled Managing Cultural World Heritage (focusing, one must note, mostly
on tangible heritage), released in Paris in 2013 under the auspices and supervision of UNESCO and
forming part of the World Heritage Resource Manual series, the following terms were used: ‘religious heritage’ (UNESCO 2015, 30), ‘management of religious properties’, ‘World Heritage properties of religious significance’ and ‘heritage forming the subject of religious interest’ (UNESCO 2015,
50). This fact seems to suggest that it is ultimately rather difficult to speak of cultural heritage
without using the term ‘religion’ or ‘religious’, for religion remains one of those areas of culture
in the absence of which mankind would have been unable to attain a harmonious and complete
existence (Krąpiec 2008, 91).

6

Operational Directives….

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The Polish experience
In Poland, intangible heritage is defined using the concept of religious values, which is evidenced
by the words of deputy minister Piotr Żuchowski in the preface to the publication entitled Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe w Polsce: ‘Cultural heritage accumulates and maintains a variety
of values: intellectual, moral, social, religious or aesthetic’ (Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa n.d., 5).
One can see, therefore, that the integrity of religion and ICH is legitimised by the authorities and
promoted on an institutional basis, with the emphasis being placed on the significance of religion
for national culture and for the sustainable development of the Republic of Poland.
The final source which was subjected to analysis for the purposes of the present work and which
performs a standard-setting function in Poland are the commentaries formulated by the Council for
Intangible Cultural Heritage (Rada ds. niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego), appointed by the
Minister of Culture and National Heritage (Minister Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego). In the course
of preparations of the sample application for the inscription of an element of heritage on the National
List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (Krajowa lista niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego), a number
of documents have been created which constitute binding guidelines for us today. The description of
the areas in which intangible cultural heritage may manifest itself features the literal use of the term
‘religious performances’ as an example of the phenomena comprising the domain known as ‘performing
arts and music traditions’. Nevertheless, there are more terms used therein which denote religious
practices. In accordance with the suggestion of the UNESCO (see UNESCO 2011, 55), an increasing
number of examples which pertain to religious life can now be found in domain c) ‘customs, rituals
and festive events’, known as ‘socio-cultural practices’ in the nomination regulations.7 These include,
among others, funerary lamentations; annual, family or occasional rituals; customs and practices such
as christenings, weddings, funerals; customs related to parish indulgence fairs and pilgrimages; festive
customs and other types of behaviour which form examples of folk religious practices.
Vernacular devotional practices on the Polish list of intangible heritage
The Polish National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage8 includes two types of phenomena related

7

„Krajowa lista…”, p. 3–4.

8

Condition as of 1 November 2016. Source of all materials pertaining to the Polish list – see the website entitled Krajowa lista
niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego (Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa 2017). The review of the Representative List of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the analysis of the entries made on that list will form the subject of further
analyses and studies. With time, one may also contemplate the extension of the Polish analytical material, as the number of
entries on the National List of ICH continues to increase.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

to Christian religious practices: phenomena related primarily to Christian liturgy, and phenomena
which contain secondary references to Catholic religion or liturgy. The former consist of:
• celebrations in honour of St Roch with the blessing of animals in Mikstat;
• the Corpus Christi celebrations in Łowicz: a Catholic festival dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament.
The phenomena which contain secondary references to Catholic religion or liturgy can be divided
into the following groups:
a) annual customs or ceremonies:
• the so-called przywołówki dyngusowe in Szymborze (Inowrocław) – a form of celebration held
on Easter Sunday evening, forming a kind of introduction to the Wet Monday or Dyngus Day
– the customary throwing of water on girls on Easter Monday, the primary function of which,
however, is related to coquetry rather than religion;
• the Nativity scene (szopka) tradition in Kraków – a traditional craft which culminates each year
during the Christmas period; the nativity scenes comprise a portrayal of the stable in Bethlehem
as well as the key characters of Christianity such as Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and Joseph;
• the Lajkonik procession – a procession which takes place on the octave of Corpus Christi, with
the date of the procession always being linked to the liturgical calendar; the origins of the
custom itself are non-religious in nature, stemming from the tradition of singing spring carols in
the company of a wooden hobby horse;
b) local and community ceremonies containing references to the Catholic liturgy:
• the rafting traditions of Ulanów – a salute cannon of the local raftsmen known as the beka
wiwatówka ‘is used during major church ceremonies’ (Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa 2017);
• the traditional bronze work technique used by the Felczyński family for producing bells
in Taciszów – the bells are usually handed over ‘for installation in a church bell tower. As the
bells are handed over, a special blessing of the church bells takes place at the parish, in accordance with the relevant guidelines of the Holy See’ (Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa 2017).
Which manifestations of vernacular religion are significant to the depositaries that submit the
relevant elements of their heritage for the inscription on the National List? In order to answer
this question, I have analysed the official descriptions of the phenomena inscribed on the List,
specified and described on the website of the National Heritage Board of Poland in the National
List of Intangible Cultural Heritage tab (Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa 2017). I have focused on
the phenomena that are related strictly to liturgy: the celebrations in honour of St Roch with

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the blessing of animals in Mikstat (M) and the Corpus Christi celebrations in Łowicz (Ł). In terms
of quantity, this material may not be particularly impressive, yet it allows to demonstrate certain
tendencies in the area in question.
The manifestations of vernacular religion in the context of the implementation of the provisions of the UNESCO 2003 Convention in Poland may be subdivided into several groups.
1. Liturgy-centred practices
The intangible cultural heritage manifests itself through the participation in a complex of religious services. For example, in Mikstat, ‘the indulgence festivities are preceded by a 9-day novena
and begin with a holy mass dedicated to the sick, which takes place on the Sunday preceding
the indulgence itself’; a procession with the Blessed Sacrament and the relics of St Roch is held
twice. In addition, the celebrations also include an all-night adoration and a shepherds’ mass at
midnight; at 11 am there is a solemn high mass, followed by an evening mass on the same day
etc. (M).
2. Religious sensualism and ritualism
Religious sensualism and ritualism are the features of folk religious practices defined by Stefan
Czarnowski and further elaborated by successive generations of ethnologists. The essence of
sensualism is that it equates sanctity with the manifestation thereof, allowing it to be experienced through human senses and facilitating the coming together of ‘spiritual reality and the
reality of everyday life, of personal and collective existence’ (Czarnowski 2005, 116–20; Stomma
1986, 215–19). Ritualism, on the other hand, is understood as the standardisation and unification of religious practices and the organisation of collective life around ritual schemes and
ceremonial principles (Czarnowski 2005, 123–27; Stomma 1986, 206–09). Our inclusion of these
concepts stems from the observation that sensualism and ritualism are prominent features of
the religious practices of the bearers of ICH. They believe that the traditional cult of the Saints
remains of great importance. For example, indulgence celebrations are a sign of gratitude
towards St Roch for protecting the people against the plague; they are commonly referred to as
the ‘patron saint’s name day’, with the legend of St Roch being continuously cultivated among
the faithful. The festivities also tend to be accompanied by exhibitions dedicated to St Roch (M).
There are also numerous traditional festive attributes, such as special clothing, the construction
of altarpieces, which are erected by the members of the same members of the local communities in the same locations every year, as well the tradition whereby banners, figures and

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

paintings of saints are carried along by those who walk in processions. Other customs include
throwing flowers during the procession (Ł) or decorating various animals that walk alongside
it (M). It is also crucial that the processions adhere to a traditional order, e.g. that all animals
led by their owners towards the altar walk according to a strictly defined arrangement, while
‘the blessing ceremony itself follows a clearly defined order. The riders on horseback lead the
way, followed by horse-drawn carts, cows and, finally, larger carts loaded with sheep’ (M). This
description points towards the presence of elements of well-established traditions of vernacular religion which have existed for centuries.
3. Unusual elements
When describing their intangible heritage related to religious practices, the depositaries tend
to point towards features which, while typical for the given practice, nevertheless set it apart
in the liturgical calendar. This may be a space which is unusual for liturgies, such as a cemetery
or ‘a wooden church of St Roch located on the hill currently referred to as the Cemetery Hill or
St Roch’s Hill’ (M). Other factors include unusual participants, such as the extraordinarily large
number of ‘parishioners, pilgrims and tourists’ (M) or the participation of a municipal brass band
composed of firefighters (Ł). Another variation on the theme of extraordinary participants is the
presence of animals in sacred space (M). From the point of view of the depositaries of heritage,
the unique atmosphere is also of immense importance, as evidenced by the following words:
‘unique customs as well as the extraordinary, unforgettable atmosphere which accompanies
… the festivities’, ‘an outstanding spectacle’ (M); ‘an immensely important celebration’, ‘the
vibrant procession, with its unique atmosphere, leaves the onlookers in a state of awe’ (Ł). One
can, therefore, conclude that the practices of vernacular religion also include elements of exoticism which have been acclimatised over the years – elements which reinforce the emotional
bond of the depositaries with the given heritage phenomenon.
4. Local character
Piotr Kowalski (2004, 110) notes that ‘… the very nature of vernacular thinking results, inter
alia, in the apparent ease with which one connects emotionally potent religious experiences,
the manifestations of religious feelings and equally powerful emotions of a patriotic nature’.
It is true that in the descriptions of the elements included on the Polish list of ICH, the references
to patriotism are also clearly evident, with the very phenomenon of intangible heritage forming
an opportunity to demonstrate one’s attachment to the Local Homeland. For example, ‘Staying
in Łowicz during Corpus Christi and participation in the holy mass and procession in regional

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Łowicz outfits … is a significant determinant of Łowicz residents’ distinctiveness’, while the
procession itself ‘… remains a symbol of the Łowicz region’ (Ł).
5. The commercialisation of religion
Piotr Kowalski (2004, 117–22) refers to the phenomenon of the commercialisation of religion,
existing in the sphere of the sacred, as one of the manifestations of vernacular religion, with
market stalls, souvenirs, devotional articles, plastic copies of sacred images as well as products originating from other spheres which are cleverly adapted in order to attract churchgoers
(e.g. silver heart-shaped balloons with an image of St John Paul II, the Virgin Mary of Częstochowa, etc.) serving as its icons. In this sense, the commercialisation of religion turns out
to be an inseparable part of religious practices in which intangible heritage manifests itself
– hence the presence of such mercantile elements as the stalls on parish indulgence fairs:
‘A fair known as the “budy” (the shanties) among Mikstat residents, which takes place in the
street below the sanctuary, is an attraction for children and others. On this occasion, children
obtain the so-called indulgence money from their parents and grandparents’ (M). Another
element which becomes clearly apparent at this stage is religious tourism: ‘… even where the
indulgence festivities take place during the week, they attract large numbers of parishioners,
pilgrims and tourists, which make advance arrangements in order to ensure that they are free
on that day’ (M).
6. Continuity – identity – values
The depositaries remain well aware of the fact that religious practices ensure the transmission
of traditions, which allows for the continuity of identity to be maintained. They tend to use
exalted phrases when referring to the heritage elements that are to be inscribed on the list,
such as
It is not only the result of the fact that they remain deeply anchored in this community – it also proves
the adherence to the faith of our ancestors and to the traditions which are passed down through generations. The depositaries have emphasised that the persons from Mikstat often travel back to their home
town to participate in indulgence festivities together with their children (M).
The traditions related to Corpus Christi processions are passed on from generation to generation and
families become involved in decorating altars, carrying parish banners, figures and paintings depicting
saints as well as carrying flags, pillows and throwing flowers. … Staying in Łowicz during Corpus Christi
and participating in the holy mass and the procession in regional Łowicz outfits constitute an important
factor for building individual identity (Ł).

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This participation is also linked to social prestige: ‘carrying parish banners is considered to be
… a great honour and distinction’, which is why some people have performed these prestigious
functions continuously for decades (Ł).
Another value which the depositaries of heritage place a particular emphasis on is the integration of the former and present parishioners: ‘Everyone who has ever lived in this parish do their
best to participate in the St Roch indulgence’, ‘the mass is celebrated by the priests originating
from the parish’, while traditions related to St Roch himself ‘remain a factor which creates
a bond between those who still live here and those who have lived here in the past’ (M). ‘The
Corpus Christi celebrations in Łowicz bring families and generations together. Great attachment
shown by Łowicz residents to this tradition makes them return from far-away regions of Poland,
or even from abroad, to their family homes to take part in this unique celebration each year’
(Ł). Even the dead are considered to form part of the community that is brought back together
during these festivities:
Garlanded graves and burning votive candles remain a symbol of the unique community which includes both
those who had once worshipped St Roch and those who continue to do so today. In a way, this is a meeting
of generations, a homage to those who allowed this tradition to survive into the modern times (M).

The application form for the inscription on the Polish list does not require information of this
sort to be given; nevertheless, the depositaries tend to provide it anyway, which means that
these matters are of great importance to them and should, therefore, be seen as significant
from the point of view of vernacular religion.

Summary
Piotr Kowalski relates the concept of vernacular religion to kitsch as a cultural and ethical
category (as opposed to an aesthetic or artistic one – cf. eg. Broch 1998; Hendrykowski 1997),
concluding that:
The attitudes towards the world, the manners of perception thereof and the way in which we tend to systematise and conceptualise the reality around us all tend to find expression in the form of myriad varieties of
kitsch which have been encroaching upon religious life for a long time now. Today, the situation is perhaps
even more difficult than it had once been, for the average modern inhabitant of our world can easily find
access to every corner thereof, every element, thus frequently choosing to ignore everything that demands

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an interpretative effort or existential inconvenience. And so everything becomes mixed together so that
the resulting indistinctiveness paralyses any effort to organise the world around us (Kowalski 2004, 141–42).

However, the inclusion of part 6. Continuity – identity – values in the above analysis proves that
the tendency which characterises the mentality of the members of the mentioned communities
is exactly the opposite, as these people face the task of identification of their intangible heritage,
forced to determine which elements comprise their true cultural identity. In this process, one can
easily see a renewed interest in the nature of things, with religion and religious practices regaining
their potential to organise the world around us and once again considered as a factor that legitimises the prevailing order. Order, on the other hand, is a sine qua non condition to achieve balance
and harmony in the development of society. The depositaries, in fact, when applying for the given
phenomenon to be inscribed on the National List of intangible cultural heritage, make an ‘interpretative effort’ mentioned by Kowalski, one that has long been abandoned in our mass culture. By
doing so, they provide proof of their reflections on their own cultural identity, leaving the comfort
zone which remains the hallmark of kitsch.9 As a result, the depositary – acting as a participant of
cultural life (a culture insider) – looks beyond the emic perspective, thus expanding his or her view
of the world, stepping into the shoes of an outsider. From this perspective – one that may to some
extent be referred to as etic – the depositary may assess the uniqueness, complexity and depth of
the content of his or her culture, which makes it possible to decide where to direct his or her work
and efforts in order to ensure the sustainable development of the community. The UNESCO 2003
Convention may serve as a useful tool in this process since it imposes an obligation to involve the
depositaries in every stage of preparation of an application for inscription on the National List of
Intangible Cultural Heritage as well as to ensure the protection of such heritage in accordance with
the plan attached to the application. The aim of the Convention is ‘to raise awareness … of the
importance of the intangible cultural heritage and the protection thereof’.10
Could the UNESCO 2003 Convention become one of the instruments for the ‘management’
of vernacular religion? When will the Convention attain an influence that would make it possible
to ‘manage’ the vernacular conception of the world, for example by ushering religious practices
beyond the domain of kitsch and trivialisation and towards the enlightening consciousness of their
essence and significance? Can it influence the process of shaping the consciousness of the depositaries of heritage, change their attitude towards religious practices as a value which is worthy
9

Kitsch is characterised, among other things, by an attitude which emphasises the ease of acceptance and the need for comfort
(Moles 1978, 76–80).

10

Convention for the Safeguarding…

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

of both protection and UNESCO branding? These issues, viewed from the Polish perspective, will
form the subject of further analysis.

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dynamics of religious and ritual practices]. Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL.
Kwaśnica, Robert. 1991. “Rzeczywistość jako byt sensu. Teza o językowym tworzeniu rzeczywistości [Reality as the
entity of meaning – A thesis on the linguistic formation of reality].” In Podstawowe pojęcia i problemy [Basic
concepts and issues], edited by Janusz Anusiewicz and Jerzy Bartmiński, 31–60. Język a Kultura 1. Wrocław:
Wiedza o Kulturze.
Libiszowska-Żółtkowska, Maria, ed. 2007. Religia i religijność w warunkach globalizacji [Religion and religiousness in
a globalised world]. Kraków: Zakład Wydawniczy „Nomos”.
Maćkiewicz, Jolanta. 2000. “Potoczne w naukowym – niebezpieczeństwa i korzyści [The vernacular among the
scientific – benefits and pitfalls].” In Językowy obraz świata i kultura [Culture and the linguistic view of the world],
edited by Anna Dąbrowska and Janusz Anusiewicz, 107–13. Język a Kultura 13. Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytet Wrocławskiego.
Mariański, Janusz. 2004. Religijność społeczeństwa polskiego w perspektywie europejskiej. Próba syntezy socjologicznej
[Religiousness of the Polish society in a European perspective. An attempt at sociological synthesis]. Kraków:
Zakład Wydawniczy „Nomos”.

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Moles, Abraham. 1978. Kicz czyli sztuka szczęścia. Studium o psychologii kiczu [Kitsch – The art of happiness. A study
of the psychology of kitsch]. Translated by Anita Szczepańska and Ewa Wende. Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut
Wydawniczy.
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa. n.d. Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe w Polsce [Intangible cultural heritage in
Poland]. Edited by Anna Marconi-Betka, Katarzyna Sadowska-Mazur and Julia Włodarczyk. Warszawa: Narodowy
Instytut Dziedzictwa.
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa. 2017. “Krajowa lista niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego [National List
of Intangible Cultural Heritage].” Accessed May 7.
http://niematerialne.nid.pl/Dziedzictwo_niematerialne/Krajowa_inwentaryzacja/Krajowa_lista_NDK/.
Niedźwiedź, Anna. 2006. “Pojęcie religijności ludowej w polskiej tradycji etnologicznej [The concept of folk religiousness in the Polish ethnologic tradition].” In Człowiek i sacrum. O pojęciach religijnych w języku i kulturze. Materiały
pokonferencyjne [The human being and the sacred. On religious concepts in language and culture. Post-conference materials], edited by Dorota Sarzyńska and Ryszard Tokarski, 237–47. Sandomierz: Towarzystwo Naukowe
Sandomierskie; Wyższa Szkoła Humanistyczno-Przyrodnicza.
Ratajski, Sławomir. 2013. “Koncepcja ochrony dziedzictwa niematerialnego w Konwencji UNESCO [The concept of
safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in the UNESCO Convention].” In Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe.
Źródła – wartości – ochrona [Intangible cultural heritage. Sources – values – protection], edited by Jan Adamowski
and Katarzyna Smyk, 21–33. Lublin–Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie Skłodowskiej; Narodowy
Instytut Dziedzictwa.
Stępniak, Marek. 2010. “Religijność ludowa jako droga przekazu tradycji [Folk religiousness as a path for the propagation of tradition].” Łódzkie Studia Teologiczne 19: 276–83.
Stomma, Ludwik. 1986. Antropologia kultury wsi polskiej XIX w. [The cultural anthropology of the 19th-century Polish
countryside]. Warszawa: Instytut Wydawniczy PAX.
Tomicki, Ryszard. 1981. “Religijność ludowa [Folk religiousness].” In Etnografia Polski: przemiany kultury ludowej
[Ethnography of Poland: transformations of folk culture], edited by Maria Biernacka, Maria Frankowska and
Wanda Paprocka, 2: 29–70. Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich.
UNESCO. 2011. Niematerialne dziedzictwo kulturowe [Intangible Cultural Heritage]. Paryż: UNESCO.
UNESCO. 2015. Zarządzanie światowym dziedzictwem kulturowym [Managing Cultural World Heritage]. Polish
language version edited by Katarzyna Piotrowska and Dąbrówka Lipska. Warszawa: Narodowy Instytut
Dziedzictwa. Accessed November 6, 2016. http://www.nid.pl/pl/Wydawnictwa/inne%20wydawnictwa/
Managing%20Cultural%20WH_PL%20(3).pdf.

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Importance of inter-institutional cooperation
for ICH safeguarding and
sustainable development.
The case of dry stone
building
Mirela Hrovatin*

*

Senior Expert Advisor, Ministry of Culture, Republic of Croatia (Ministarstvo kulture Republike Hrvatske),
e-mail: mirela.hrovatin@min-kulture.hr.

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The exploitation of natural resources might be accordingly
diminished by giving more importance to traditional ways of their use,
and by including the old technique into the management of certain
geographical areas, including valuable cultural and natural landscapes.

Introduction
Sustainable development in the context of cultural heritage safeguarding has many facets (Albert
2015, 17). This paper will mention only some of the issues arising from the topic of the Forum
on the connection between intangible cultural heritage and sustainable development. Working
on ICH safeguarding in Croatia as an expert and state official in the Ministry of Culture (Ministarstvo kulture), I have encountered multiple dilemmas when considering the inclusion of ICH into
the current social mainstream to secure its viability. In this sense, sustainable development has
proved to be one of the main aspects of ICH safeguarding goals as envisioned by the UNESCO
2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.1 I will consider here
the economic use of ICH, the broader social impact of ICH safeguarding, and intellectual property
rights on ICH, basing my insights on a number of cases in Croatia.
To broaden the context, it should be mentioned that Croatia has been influenced by numerous
international efforts on the safeguarding of cultural and natural heritage, and in recent several
decades has tried to implement the general guidelines via the national legislation and planned
activities (Domijan 2004). What is more, in recent years in Croatia, the preservation of nature has
received increased attention due to the issues raised on the need for industrial development and
exploitation of natural resources. Moreover, already in 1979, one of the most important Croatian
national nature parks, the Plitvice Lakes, and one of the most important cultural-historical cities, the
Old Town of Dubrovnik were inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List. Following the 1990s
1

On the connection of ICH and sustainable element in the spirit of the 2003 Convention, see UNESCO online publication
Intangible Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development (UNESCO 2015).

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wars in ex-Yugoslavia (in Croatia referred to as the 1990s Homeland War), the inscriptions of tangible
heritage have further emphasised the need to take care of valuable cultural and natural heritage
in Croatia, especially after war damages that the monuments and nature had suffered (Goldstein
1999). However, the evaluation of the war damages to cultural heritage in Croatia focused more
attention on the material rather than the intangible cultural heritage.2 The ICH, however, has also
significantly suffered due to the forced displacement of people and the discontinuation of traditional expressions. Fortunately, it was in most cases (but not all) renewed soon after the return of
refugees to their homes, and proved that the know-how and the knowledge possessed by bearers
provides a solid basis for the continuation of traditions, even after such difficult times of war and
population resettlement. One such case is the Festivity of Saint Blaise3 that takes place every year
since the 10th century in the town of Dubrovnik, an event which was brought back immediately after
the war had stopped. As the main part of the festivity takes place on the main street of Dubrovnik,
Stradun, as soon as the conditions had become safe, the festivity restarted, even before the renovation of all town buildings was finished. This proved once again how closely ICH is connected to the
environment in which it is shaped and performed. Today, unfortunately, the festivity is becoming
increasingly more endangered due to mass tourism, which causes a rapid depopulation of the town.
At the moment, action is planned to control the number of tourists in order to stop the negative
effects on the town.4 A very good example of bringing together tourism and ICH while ensuring longterm sustainability is also the Batana Ecomuseum Project,5 which aims at several goals: safeguarding
ICH, conservation of objects and buildings, inclusion of bearers into planning, control of tourism by
the bearers themselves, placement of traditional food on the market and its use in tourism as well
as its use in every-day life, educational programmes, direct transmission of know-how, international
cooperation, etc. Those are all important qualities of this project, in which the stakeholders make
decisions, but the main role belongs to the bearers themselves and the local community, who are
supported by the local authorities and expert institutions. Due to its successful implementation, the
project is inscribed into the UNESCO Register of Good Safeguarding Practices.
The war events and mass tourism are not the only conditions that influence the cultural heritage in
Croatia and its viability. For almost 100 years, there has been continual conservation care for cultural
2

As intangible heritage has only recently begun to be systematically safeguarded in the world, inspired by the 2003 Convention,
it was not only Croatia that was focusing for a long time primarily on tangible rather than intangible heritage (see more in
Bouchenaki 2004).

3

‘The Festivity of Saint Blaise’ is inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

4

On the relationship between traditional heritage and tourism, see Jelinčić 2006.

5

On the Batana Project, see www.batana.org.

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heritage in Croatia (Deranja Crnokić 2015), with the inscriptions into the National Registry of Cultural
Goods kept by the Ministry of Culture (Registar kulturnih dobara Republike Hrvatske), listing a total
of around 5000 elements of immovable, movable and natural heritage.6 The inscriptions of intangible cultural heritage into the National Registry started around the year 2000, counting 150 ICH
elements in the Registry, and 15 elements on the UNESCO’s ICH lists until 2017. Such large number
of the inscribed ICH elements in only 10 years is a result of good cooperation between the Ministry
of Culture, the experts, and the bearers; it has enabled the fast gathering of documentation, which
is in a way a continuation of the previous good conservation practice in Croatia, and its adaptation to
ICH as a specific category of cultural heritage (Hrovatin 2016). At the same time, I consider the fast
inscriptions also to be a reflection of a long-term process spanning over the last several decades in
Croatia and in the world: the growing awareness of the local communities and various other local
stakeholders (including museums, companies, tourist boards) about the value of the local cultural
and national heritage, as well as ICH, which is considered by the public to be in danger of disappearing if not well documented and passed on. Not only the bearers and local communities have
been increasingly engaged in implementing various programmes on ICH safeguarding; they have
also been making sure that their heritage is adequately presented to the public, and that they are
actively involved in all the phases of various processes such as researching, documenting, developing
their own safeguarding projects, incorporating them into tourism, asking for financial support, which
subsequently results in inscriptions into the Registry. These activities in Croatia have been to some
extent made possible due to more factors: development of global communications, recuperation
after the 1990s wars, continuous presence of ethnologists and cultural anthropologists in some
communities, increased activities of museums aimed at local communities, influence of tourism on
the need for presentation of local heritage, overall development of the country resulting in opening
of the local communities to international and regional cooperation, and other factors.

The case of dry stone building
Although Croatia has established a good legislative basis for developing a high-level preservation
of natural and cultural heritage, there are more issues that still need to be tackled and that are
becoming more difficult to resolve, especially regarding ICH. Such is the issue of the reconciliation
6

The Registry is public and can be accessed via the website of the Ministry of Culture: www.min-kulture.hr/default.aspx?id=6212.

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Petrebišća: Building and renewal of dry-stone walls, 2014. Photo by Nevena Kereša, © Association 4 grada Dragodid.

Dry wall online interactive mapping of sites and objects with the participation of experts and bearers,
http://suhozid.geof.unizg.hr [accessed: 28 October 2016].

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

of new agricultural and economic demands with the preservation of landscapes and traditional
ways of land use that would ensure the adjustments to new social needs. Let us here consider
the example of dry stone building techniques as an ICH element that is inscribed in the Registry,
but still has to resolve many of the issues concerning its future viability. On the one hand, there
are the bearers that keep and use the traditional know-how but on the other hand, they are too
dispersed to have a bigger influence on the wider community and on the economic-market stakeholders who could include them into new projects. An NGO Dragodid,7 which is dedicated solely
to the safeguarding of this ICH and its future, has been very active in the attempts to bridge the
gap between the traditional needs for building with stone and in the new economic and developmental demands of the society as a whole.
Most of the Adriatic landscape is made of karst (limestone and dolomite rocks), and there is little
land that can be used for growing crops. Therefore, in the past, the traditional way of securing fields
involved removing stones from them and using those stones for building small and long walls to
prevent the land from being washed away by water and the wind, and to protect it from animals. This
knowledge goes back a long way – to pre-historic times – and it remains in use today. However, it has
slowly started to disappear as sea tourism appropriated most of the economy of the Adriatic during
the 20th century, and led people to turn to easier income from tourism. Thus, today, even if some of
the farmers still use and cultivate the land in the karst area, they usually do not use the services of the
people who know how to build a traditional stone wall without using mortar but instead build them
using concrete or some other, newer materials. In this way they do not only devastate the visual and
historical values of the cultural landscape they are using, but also indirectly endanger the intangible
heritage that lies behind this type of ancient construction. The change should thus be made not only on
the local level but more so on the state level; in a way that secures the current economic needs of the
masters of this skill. However, the Ministry of Culture cannot ensure the safeguarding of this type of
ICH without the help of other institutions, such as the Ministry of Economy (Ministarstvo gospodarstva),
Regional Development (regionalnog razvoja), Tourism (turizma), Agriculture (poljoprivrede), Environment (zaštite okoliša), and others. Moreover, the active involvement of other organisations such as the
Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts (Hrvatska obrtnička komora) could also help in securing the
visibility and the new use of traditional knowledge. For now, there is little joint dialogue on the matters
of ICH and its sustainability that should be supported institutionally from different sectors.
7

On the activities and mission of the NGO, see www.dragodid.org.

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Rovinj: Workshop in making wooden batana boat, including the use of multimedia, 2015.
Photo by Kosjenka Brajdić Petek, © Ecomusem Batana.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

One example showing how the traditional knowledge of dry stone building could be used is the
Starigrad Plain on the island of Hvar, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Its main value
rests upon the old planning of the agricultural fields that has been continued from Antiquity until
today. There is a great need for preservation of its ancient appearance and land use, especially
today when it is recognised as an invaluable cultural heritage site. Thus, there have been projects
drafted and developed for its sustainable management.8 The experts agree that in its maintenance, a big role should be given to the traditional masters of dry stone building. But even if the
future management agents employ these masters, they will not have the legal means to include
them in the renewal of dry stone walls on the Plain. The main obstacle is the fact that the individual traditional masters still have no opportunities to get the required professional licences (as
for example architects do) because they have no proof of their professional training in this skill as
prescribed by the regular procedure. Instead of organised school, they have been acquiring their
knowledge through direct transmission from their family members (mostly men, but also women)
and neighbours. The inscription into the Registry of this ICH element has thus opened possibilities
for getting special restoration and conservation licences for such traditional skills. These licences
would enable the bearers to enter the current economic market and raise their overall cultural
value among the public as keepers of traditional knowledge and skills.
Besides dry stone walls, there are many other old stone buildings and objects in need of renovation
all over Adriatic, for which the old technique could be useful. Thus hiring traditional masters would be
more suitable than using licensed firms which specialise only in construction and architecture. What
is more, once these traditional skills lead to securing future employment, this measure would motivate younger generations to learn and master them. In that sense, providing the masters with official
education or apprenticeship degrees within licensed schools or programmes would be a considerable
step forward in securing the sustainability of this ICH element. However, for now, the only measures
aimed at education are the temporary workshops that the NGO arduously organises and implements
with the help of local bearers and authorities along the Adriatic coast. They result in raising the awareness of the need to preserve this heritage in the local environment. Furthermore, if this skill could be
introduced into regular educational programmes, it might ensure long-term results in terms of qualitative transmission and keep new apprentices in the local communities, as they are already largely
affected by depopulation in recent decades on the Adriatic coast, especially the islands.
8

Information from the expert meetings on the preparation of the multinational file on dry stone building in the Ministry
of Culture, Croatia.

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The current market demand for stone building is another area where this old know-how could
be successfully employed. Many people decorate their houses and backyards in the old Mediterranean style to attract tourists that look for authentic places. Unfortunately, many house owners
use low-quality, ready-made products such as concrete blocks that only imitate dry stone building.
They are probably unaware of the damage they inflict to the aesthetics of the space, but also to
intangible heritage in general. The awareness of the value of this ICH and its inclusion into current
trends and needs of the economic market and society as a whole should, therefore, be continually
increased. What is more, the communities and families could appreciate this kind of ICH and possibilities of its use by actively involving wider social circles and economic-market stakeholders.

Intellectual property rights and ICH
One of the issues that have been raised alongside the inscriptions of ICH into the Registry and
UNESCO Lists is the competition for the intellectual rights on ICH between local communities
(Nikočević et al. 2012). The issue of intellectual property (IP) was actually one of the main reasons
why the 2003 Convention had not been drafted and introduced earlier.9 The influence of Western
cultures and the new global trends of authorship right protection in all the spheres of production
and creativity today are visible also in Croatia. The issue of IP has also been raised for some time
now, and in the case of ICH, it usually comes into view when the bearers want to use the material
aspect of their ICH. Indeed, this is yet another issue connected to the sustainability of ICH today. So,
who has the right to ICH? Who can use the know-how and turn it into their personal benefit? Who
can sell the products originating from the traditional technique? At first, these questions might
seem simple, and the answer could merely be based on forwarding this issue to intellectual rights
institutions. In Croatia, there is, in fact, adequate legislation that covers this issue, namely the Copyright and Related Rights Act.10 Furthermore, the State Intellectual Property Office (Državni zavod
za intelektualno vlasništvo)11 provides services for those who want to protect their intellectual
property. For example, the Office gives a special Designation of Origin to a number of traditional
9

According to the information on the UNESCO website about the history of the 2003 Convention (UNESCO 2016).

10

Zakon o autorskom pravu i srodnim pravima, Narodne Novine [National Newspaper] 167/2003, 22 October 2003, available
in English at: www.dziv.hr/files/File/eng/zakon_autor_ENG.pdf.

11

For more information about the State IP Office, see www.dziv.hr.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

products, such as traditional embroidery, i.e. lace. In practice, this designation gives the groups,
NGOs, and individual persons an official permission to sell their products on the market under their
traditional name (e.g. Lepoglava Lace, Pag Lace, etc.). What is more, it is all well-defined within the
legal framework of the state. However, in several communities the manipulation of information
about the reality of the ICH element has caused a situation in which the permission is given only to
those who apply for this right, leaving aside others who either do not know about their rights or
were not informed about them. Also, those who are somehow disconnected from the individual,
group, or even an NGO that applies for the permission remain aside and thus become deprived
of their rights. Who can protect the ones that are left without the possibility to claim and use
their rights to their tradition? They have the right to complain or to apply for the certificate that
proves they can use the traditional name for their products, however, there might be difficulties
in proving the know-how before the qualified NGO or the individual who judges them on whether
they make the product in the ‘proper’, traditional way or not. In this sense, the individual is vulnerable to manipulation from a stronger group or an individual within the community. Those power
relations are indeed issues that might be tackled with public discussions, the active involvement
of experts, additional scientific research, and a public display of research results, as well as the
inclusion of local authorities into mitigating such social inequalities (assuming that the authorities
do not support the stronger group). No examples are mentioned here, as the Ministry of Culture
has tried to adequately name all the bearers as much as possible in the texts that form the basis
for the inscription of an ICH into the National Registry. Some individuals that had been left out
contacted the Ministry after the inscription and thus have been subsequently included in the new,
revised lists of bearers. These lists are also sent to the first bearers that were listed so that they
are also informed about the new bearers. Whenever possible, the experts from the Ministry and
expert institutions raise awareness about this issue, and about the understanding of ICH as part of
the culture that belongs to the broader community, not only to individuals. This way assures the
right place of all the bearers in connection to their ICH.
Besides embroidery, a lot of proposals on the first inscriptions into the National Registry were
focused on particular types of traditional Croatian food; various groups and individuals wanted to
protect their recipes and know-how in preparing their traditional meals, cakes, and other dishes.
It was obvious that it was the easiest way for the bearers to officially confirm that they could
somehow exercise their rights to their tradition and sell their products that base on it. The importance of traditional food and many proposals of this type of ICH have resulted also from the lack

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of any other preserved ICH elements in certain local communities. Nevertheless, the Ministry
of Culture has remained detached from official expressions of any kind of support to any of the
groups or individuals and has recognised the traditional types of food only as specific to some
wider geographical areas; extending them to more than one individual or one group of people.
This caused the lack of interest for further proposals for inscription of traditional food-making
into the Registry and diverted the bearers’ attention towards the Ministry of Agriculture, which
gives special official marks of origin for traditional food.12 It might seem that in the cases where
the Ministry of Agriculture gives such marks, there are also some groups, firms, or NGOs that
control the rights to the production of traditional food. However, when such parties want to join
the market and sell their products under the name that is protected by the Ministry of Agriculture,
they have to go through the whole procedure, in which the group or firm that holds the rights
decides whether this new party properly follows tradition. This type of control creates significant
space for manipulation and restriction of the placement of products on the market that can jeopardise the production and income of those who hold the rights. However, the attempts to safeguard and control the placement of the products that might be called ‘traditional’ is the right of
the bearers themselves and their associations; it is up to them to protect their traditional heritage
and to fend off any misuse of their ICH and prevent harm that might be inflicted upon them if the
market is left unguarded.
Cultural anthropologists are perhaps more sensitive to the questions of intellectual property
rights due to the history of this scientific discipline; such is also the case in Croatia. However,
when met with specific situations in Croatia, they do not know how to respond to the questions
of IP, either because they think that – being experts that often get already deeply involved in
all the phases of these processes [of intangible heritage safeguarding – editorial note] – it is
not their task, or because they believe other institutions and experts should address these
problems. A more systematic field research of the cases in Croatia could contribute to making
some general guidelines on how to deal with these issues. This might help cultural anthropologists in their future work with local communities and in planning the inclusion of ICH into the
current market.

12

All the other types of traditional products and know-how are under the jurisdiction of the State Intellectual Property Office.
On the Ministry of Agriculture and designations of origin for food, see www.mps.hr/default.aspx?id=10.

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Conclusion
It might be concluded that the planning of any introduction of ICH into a more intensive economic
use, tourism, a new use, or any other current trend should not only involve bearers but also many
different stakeholders on various levels, including the local, state, expert, private, and other
ones. Humanities experts and scientists, especially cultural anthropologists, are very important
in bridging the gap between the overuse of ICH and its viability, as they are more sensitive to
the needs of individuals and they understand different types of functioning of local communities. Thus, some overall guidelines might be made on the expert and state levels to ensure the
sustainability of ICH that is used in new ways and for new purposes, considering the commercialisation of only some of its aspects and the awareness-raising of the less obvious social role of ICH
for the local community and broader society. However, not all the solutions can be reached for
all types of ICH on the theoretical or universal levels. Thus, the more local and specific approach
to ICH, the better.
Through history, until today, it has always been the broader social and economic value and
demand that influenced the safeguarding and continuation of many ICH elements such as those
mentioned in this paper. There are still more challenges and dilemmas to be tackled than concrete
results and answers in Croatia, but in this respect, the NGOs make great efforts in raising awareness
and insisting on the protection and preservation of cultural and natural values and resources. With
many cultural, heritage, and ecological associations, activities and citizen initiatives, there has been
significant progress so far, but still not enough for the wider public to realise the need to involve
ICH in the new demands connected to development and to secure the sustainability of certain
areas. Educational programmes, both formal and informal, could significantly help in preparing
new generations to use ICH as an invaluable resource for the future management of local areas.
Although today school programmes cover some of these issues, not enough attention is given to
connecting old and new ways of using nature and its resources. In some cases, the transmission of
the know-how to the younger generations could be successfully secured by continual education
rather than just by transmission within the families – as seen in the example of dry stone building,
which shows how economy demands licensed masters to enter the market legally. The resulting
exploitation of natural resources might be accordingly diminished by giving more importance to
traditional ways of their use, and by including the old technique into the management of certain
geographical areas, including valuable cultural and natural landscapes.

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The issue of intellectual property rights that might be unevenly given to stakeholders with more
power in local communities rather than other members in the same communities could result in the
lack of motivation to continue certain traditions. These and other issues are dealt with in Croatia
by different state and expert institutions, who are still not mutually connected enough to invent
more adequate solutions for each ICH case and its local community. This significantly disables the
implementation of the protection and safeguarding measures in specific geographical areas in
the long-term. Thus, the inclusion of all the stakeholders, especially the bearers and the entire
local community on all stages of planning such developmental projects – from the beginning until
the end – should be ensured in order to enable long-term sustainable growth and safeguarding
of cultural and natural heritage.

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of Sustainability in Heritage Studies, edited by Marie-Theres Albert, 11–20. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter.
Bouchenaki, Mounir, ed. 2004.Museum International Vol. 56, Issue 1–2. Wiley-Blackwell.
DeranjaCrnokić, Anuška. 2015. “Nastanak Registra kulturnih dobara–povijest i sadašnjost inventariziranja kulturne
baštine u Hrvatskoj [Creation of the Cultural Property Registry – The history and present of inventorying cultural
heritage in Croatia].” Godišnjak Zaštite Spomenika Kulture Hrvatske 37–38: 25–38.
Domijan, Miljenko, ed. 2004. World Heritage Sites in Croatia: Exhibition Marking the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the
Inscription of the First Croatian Heritage Sites on the World Heritage List. Zagreb: Ministry of Culture of the
Republic of Croatia.
Goldstein, Gordana, ed. 1999. Godišnjak zaštite spomenika culture Hrvatske 24–25:Spomeničkabaština u Hrvatskoj
1991–1999. Ratne štete i obnova [The cultural and historical heritage in Croatia 1991–1999. War damage and
restoration]. Zagreb: Ministarstvo kulture Republike Hrvatske.
Hrovatin, Mirela. 2016. “A Short Overview of the ICH Safeguarding Policy in Croatia.” In The Contribution of UNESCO
Member States of South-Eastern Europe to the Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. A Jubilee Edition Dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of UNESCO, edited by Miglena Ivanova,
93–104. Sofia: Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe
under the auspices of UNESCO. Accessed September 11, 2016. http://www.unesco-centerbg.org/wp-new/
wp-content/uploads/2016/05/izdanie_UNESCO_print-last.pdf.

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Jelinčić, Daniela Angelina. 2006. “Tourism versus Identity, Globalization and Tradition.” Ethnological Researches 11:
185–207.
Nikočević, Lidija, Ljiljana Gavrilović, Mirela Hrovatin, Daniela Angelina Jelinčić, Jadran Kale, Dragana Lucija Ratković,
Amy Mountcastle, Peter Simonič, and Tvrtko Zebec. 2012.“Culture or Heritage? The Problem of Intangibility”.
Etnološka Tribina: Journal of Croatian Ethnological Society 42 (35): 57–112.
UNESCO. 2015. “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development.” Accessed October 25, 2016. http://
unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002434/243402e.pdf.
UNESCO. 2016. “Working towards a Convention.” Accessed October 3. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/
working-towards-a-convention-00004.

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Securing the future
of intangible
cultural heritage
in Romania in a sustainable
way: benefits and
subsequent risks
Adina Hulubaş*

*

Head of the Ethnography and Folklore Department, Institute of Romanian Philology, The Romanian Academy
(Departamentul de etnografie şi folclor, Institutul de Filologie Română, Academia Română), Iaşi, Romania,
e-mail: adina.hulubas@gmail.com.

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The steps towards a secure future may be symbolised by an image
of concentric waves on water, created by an object falling in. In the centre,
we have the public acknowledgement of cultural value, but then local
initiatives have to be supported and protected from the pressure exerted
by central standards.

It is common to admit the dynamic nature of intangible heritage and to assert that socio-economic
conditions influence a selection of folk practices, beliefs, crafts, and other traditions. Even the
concept of ‘living heritage’, often used as a synonym for intangible cultural heritage (Park 2013, 1),
implies organic transformations over time, which adds to its generally accepted characteristic as
active practice that has been transmitted by the elders to the youth, and continues to be perceived
as a cultural identity mark by the entire community.
Evolution is hence the key to understanding traditional culture, as noted by experts. ‘ICH is
by definition a living entity, and its capacity to constantly adapt itself in response to the historical and social evolution of its creators and bearers represents one of its main distinguishing
features’ (Lenzerini 2011, 108). The best example for this internal dynamism is the Romanian
custom related to childbirth practices. It is called ‘the sleeves of the midwife’ (mânecile moaşei) and
it can be also encountered among Moldavians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, and Russians. The women
that were attended at birth by traditional midwives had to make a ritual gift eight days after their
labour. Since the physiological process implies an impure contamination, they offered two metres
of house-woven cloth to the midwives, to replace their stained sleeves. They also poured water
on their hands and gave them soap to restore their initial condition.
Although women were banned from giving unattended birth at home 70 years ago, this custom
remains active to this day, and it is performed on a daily basis in hospitals and clinics. Its social
impact is still important, and infringements on it are believed to cause immediate misfortune, as
our informants declared. The changes imposed on people did not significantly corrupt the tradi-

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tional practice, and today, the presence of a midwife who performs traditional birth-attendant
gestures became a mandatory ceremonial presence (Hulubaş 2011).
This spontaneous transmission is reinforced by a general belief in its magical efficiency, which
makes it a cultural phenomenon that the ICH certifies. ‘Such a heritage has the intrinsic capacity to
modify and shape its own characteristics in parallel to the cultural evolution of the communities
concerned and is therefore capable of representing their living heritage at any moment’ (Lenzerini
2011, 118). Nevertheless, this process is no longer reliable as a natural selection for further transmission, as a result of exposure to other folk practices. The 2003 Convention, however, appeared
on time to guide the passing of traditional knowledge to the younger generations.
It is the youth who can assure a sustainable future for ICH, but the socio-economical context
about the importance of folk culture may confuse the general public. Moreover, the millennium-old
process that has brought us valuable cultural manifestations is in need of maintenance, especially when craftsmen face public exposure and cultural interferences. ‘Craftsmanship of Horezu
ceramics’, for example, was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural
Heritage of Humanity in 2012; the pottery of this type is now the most frequent sight both on
traditional fairs and even in multinational hypermarkets. Unfortunately, potters from other ethnographic zones react to its success in an imperilling manner. In Marginea, Suceava, black pots have
been produced until eight years ago and made the village famous for their specific craftsmanship.
Today, tourists entering the workshop encounter Horezu plates for sale, which are brought from
500 km away. Other potters paint the Horezu cock, a trademark image for this ceramic products,
on plates whose chromatics belong to the Baia Mare region, up in the northern part of Romania.
A month after the release of the 2003 Convention, experts began to express their worries that
safeguarding would, in fact, create ‘an environment that only mimics nature’ (Brown 2012, 95).
One response raised the possibility that it might ‘change the course of things’ (Kurin 2012, 100).
We could let ‘nature’ take its course and have no such cultural intervention. But there is nothing ‘natural’
about the issues that beset ICH in the world today. They are the result of particular social and economic
activities that characterize contemporary societies and world systems (Kurin 2007, 18).

Cash flow decides what reaches the public eye. Hence, we are confronted with a double risk: on
the one hand, if experts do not intervene, traditional knowledge fades away under the pressure
exerted by standardised models. On the other hand, raising awareness has to be a well-supervised
process, since overrating local practices may have a similar levelling effect on other expressions.
As Claude Lévi-Strauss (2007, 7) observed at the celebration of six decades of UNESCO activity,

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

we have ‘to overcome the apparent antinomy between the oneness of human condition and the
inexhaustible plurality of forms in which we apprehend it’.
The second danger comes from the loss of the initial purpose, represented by the practitioner
community. Not only does the ‘spontaneity’ of the rite disappear (Brown 2012, 95), but also its
magical utility. The ‘Căluş ritual’, inscribed in 2008, is the perfect illustration of this alienation. Originally proclaimed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
(2005), this athletic dance was performed only nine days per year, starting from Whitsunday. The
initiation into the rite was secret; dancers swore a still-secret vow at the borders of their village and
then performed public representations meant to bring fertility to barren women and cure fearful
diseases such as epilepsy. All magic implications seem to be lost now since the only knowledge that
is passed on to beginners is the virtuosity of the dance (Ştiucă 2009, 20). Even more so, Căluşari
perform at festivals all year long, at weddings, flash mobs (although their ritual number is limited
to uneven sums: five, seven, nine, or eleven), and they even participate in processions intended
to bless new cars in order to ward off future accidents.
Căluş resembles other rituals, such as the dance of Podhale highlanders with ciupagas. These
specific hatches have an obvious apotropaic function while dancing in a circle invokes solar protection. Like the Romanian Căluşari, the dancers’ purpose is to ward off evil intentions and bring good
health and fertility into the community. Another similarity can be traced within the Polish zbójnicki
dance, both in choreography and in the spectacular purpose of today’s representations.
Moreover, on the southern side of Romania, in Ialomiţa, dancers use ritual sticks that have
a horse head carved at the tip, a detail that links Căluşari with Căiuţi, played at the winter solstice,
or the ‘Obby ‘Oss from the United Kingdom and the Polish Lajkonik. Such a tremendous geographical representation of the ancient belief in the common entity of the rider and his horse should not
be presented exclusively on aesthetic grounds, as a show. Transmission is conditioned by acknowledgement, and this is where new efforts have to be made in Romania.
‘Most EU countries have promulgated specific educational policies and recommendations encouraging schools to sustain and promote awareness of local cultures and heritage’ (Dagnino, Ott, and
Pozzi 2015, 195). This strategy may be seen as part of the Sustainable Development Goal 4, called
Quality Education. Being able to learn about how one’s present cultural identity formed, what it
means, and how similar or dissimilar it is to other traditional cultures gains capital importance for the
future social behaviour. It favours ‘inclusive and equitable quality education’ and ‘promotes lifelong
learning opportunities’, as stated in the Global Education Monitoring Report (UNESCO 2016).

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Căluş ritual, © Romanian Peasant Museum.

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In this respect, the Ministry of Education (Ministerul Educaţiei Naţionale) was officially addressed
by the Iaşi branch of the Romanian Academy (Academia Română, Filiala Iași) in 2015. The press
release had a great impact in mass-media, and positive reactions followed. The request to the
authorities was the result of a one-year workshop organised by the Department of Ethnography
and Folklore (Departamentul de Etnografie și Folclor), entitled ‘How and why can we teach folklore’. Participants from various fields (teachers from schools and universities, craftsmen, curators,
museum directors, fair organisers, radio producers, etc.) agreed that the present school curriculum
is no longer adequate to the psycho-social expectations of students. The few folk texts found in
manuals are complicated, explained using too many superlatives and with almost no decoding, and
they are sometimes even plainly misleading. We suggested and applied for a more ethnographic
method that would allow students to understand the intricate network of ICH.
Sustainability is achieved on two levels: the future generation gains knowledge of traditional
values and learns to differentiate corrupted manifestations from folk ways, and their parents are
involved in common activities during crafts camps, fairs, or school projects. ‘Modes of transmission have become tired, static, and fail to pair with modes of learning’ (Mitchenson 2015, 58);
physical contact with craftsmen and with actual objects induces a more profound level of perception. In Romania, the school calendar includes a week for extracurricular activities, and during that
period the students learn to decorate eggs, carve wood, mould clay, and make pots with craftsmen.
‘Learning is more efficient when abstract information is tied to tangible experience’ (Mitchenson
2015, 61); ICH needs this material support as an introduction that captivates the young generations
and their parents. The latter belong to two different types. Some have grown up in rural zones
and rediscover a familiar world which helps them to connect with their children, while others did
not benefit from any traditional experience and get acquainted with it now with wonder and joy.
The kinesthetic aspect of the activity is beneficial every time; craftsmen gain recognition of their
effort and talent, and the ICH becomes clearer to the modern observer.
Countries that have already implemented such school projects, whether they were part of the
UNESCO Associated Schools Network or not, came to the conclusion that ‘one of the most efficient means of safeguarding ICH … was its embedding with the primary and secondary curriculum’.1 In Romania, these activities are self-funded by enthusiastic kindergartens and school
teachers. An example of this is the ‘Să învățăm de la bunici!’ (Let’s learn from our grandparents!)
1

See Edinburgh Napier University’s Research Excellence Framework impact case study (http://impact.ref.ac.uk/casestudies2/
refservice.svc/GetCaseStudyPDF/43948).

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project. It started in a kindergarten in Iaşi, it is now implemented in 15 districts from Romania
and 25 schools of different levels. The sustainability of such initiatives stems from the great
interest in ICH.
A similar broadening of the traditional world is now pursued by a multinational telecommunication company that will use TV commercials, TV shows, and Facebook live transmissions to speak
about ‘Undiscovered Romania’ through four practitioners that have been awarded the Living
Human Treasure title. As the UNESCO programme suggests, the public acknowledgement attracts
the audience and it gradually raises awareness. ‘The prestige, honour, recognition and attention
may indeed make cultural exemplars and practitioners proud of what they do, and energise their
own efforts to continue, transmit, and even extend their traditions’ (Kurin 2007, 16).
The steps towards a secure future may be symbolised by an image of concentric waves on water,
created by an object falling in. In the centre, we have the public acknowledgement of cultural
value, but then local initiatives have to be supported and protected from the pressure exerted by
central standards. What is more, regional projects raise more awareness about ICH and introduce
a more intensive educational purpose, since communities benefit from the traditional knowledge,
and the wider public needs to be initiated into the specific manifestation. ‘The emphasis has to be
as much on training a new audience as on revitalizing the form itself’ (Gopalakrishnan 2016, 19).
Although the Romanian curricula do not include ICH topics, two manuals with this purpose
have been published, and an internet site (edupatrimoniu.piscu.ro) provides them free of charge.
Information covers the central-southern part of Romania and is destined for children starting the
3rd grade of school. The initiators have even created a network entitled Şcoli pentru patrimoniu
(Schools for cultural heritage), where these manuals are used during optional courses of Romanian
language, history, and counselling hours. These efforts are similar to the workshop held in Iaşi, in
the north of the country, where another schools network trains students, teachers, and parents.
Nonetheless, procedural memory has to support theoretical instruction, and craftsmen are important agents for this goal.
The fourth stage for the sustainable development of this field is, obviously, the national set
of laws, regulations, and financing programmes. Unfortunately, the Romanian parliament does
not acknowledge the importance of crafts law and even though such regulation was initiated in
2007 and discussed by the Senate, the act is still stuck at the Industries Commission. Meanwhile,
craftsmen struggle to resist the market flooded by fake objects, often manufactured on an industrial scale in other countries.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

However, the Ministry of Culture (Ministerul Culturii) has released two programmes that
finance creative and cultural industries. Two books published by the National Institute for
Cultural Research and Training (Institutul Național pentru Cercetare și Formare Culturală) define
and establish the present status of these activities, and offer important suggestions for practitioners. As for capacity-building activities, a workshop on ‘Implementing the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage at the National Level’ was held on
13–17 June 2016 in Bucharest, and benefited from a partnership with the Regional Centre for
the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in South-Eastern Europe under the auspices
of UNESCO in Sofia, Bulgaria.
These initiatives, along with the activities of the National Commission for the Safeguarding
of ICH (Comisia Națională pentru Salvgardarea Patrimoniului Cultural Imaterial), gradually ripple
the public awareness and aim at creating a sustainable development for ICH in Romania, involving
citizens, civil societies, the business sector, and the higher authorities. The telecommunication
company uses the Living Human Treasures programme for their brand campaign, which might have
been an inspiration from the ceremony held at the presidential palace last year. This act of public
recognition is a vivid example of the circular waves created by prestige; it has managed to involve
all the above mentioned social entities.
Such approach, as well as the priority given to communities – and to their perception of self-defined manifestations and foreign influences – are altogether able to secure the process of ICH transmission by mitigating subsequent risks. ‘Results can be deceptive. Unwanted results, unintended
consequences and undeserved repercussions can flow from the most well-meaning of interventions’ (Kurin 2007, 18). However, in a Pascalian way of thinking, the simple fact that specialists keep
these dangers in mind, and realise the delicate manner they have been bestowed, the possibility
to watch the cultural context as it evolves – all to the best of their knowledge – can help obtaining
a safer and more sustainable transmission to the younger generations.

References
Brown, Michael F. 2012. “Safeguarding the Intangible.” Museum Anthropology Review 6 (2): 93–97.
Dagnino, Francesca Maria, Michela Ott, and Francesca Pozzi. 2015. “Addressing Key Challenges in Intangible Cultural
Heritage Education.” International Journal of Heritage in the Digital Era 4 (2): 193–207.

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Gopalakrishnan, Sudha. 2016. “UNESCO Masterpieces Proclamation Programme and Safeguarding Strategies for
Intangible Cultural Heritage: A View from India.” Journal of Heritage Management 1 (1): 12–21.
Hulubaş, Adina. 2011. “The Socio-Cultural Effects of Banning Traditional Midwives from Attending Homebirth in
Romania.” Journal of Ethnology and Folkloristics 5 (2): 81–90.
Kurin, Richard. 2007. “Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage: Key Factors in Implementing the 2003 Convention.” International Journal of Intangible Heritage 2: 9–20.
Kurin, Richard. 2012. “Tangible Progress: A Response to ‘Safeguarding the Intangible’ by Michael F. Brown.” Museum
Anthropology Review 6 (2): 98–101.
Lenzerini, Federico. 2011. “Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Living Culture of Peoples.” The European Journal
of International Law 22 (1): 101–20.
Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 2007. “Unesco at 60.” Diogenes 54 (3): 5–10.
Mitchenson, Donna. 2015. “Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage by Creating Meaningful Transmission Experiences.” International Journal of Heritage in the Digital Era 4 (1): 57–70.
Park, Seong-Yong. 2013. On Intangible Heritage Safeguarding Governance: An Asia-Pacific Context. Newcastle upon
Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Ştiucă, Narcisa, ed. 2009. Căluşul: emblemă identitară [Căluşul: an identity emblem]. Bucureşti: Editura Universităţii
din Bucureşti.
UNESCO. 2016. Education for People and Planet: Creating Sustainable Futures for All. Paris: UNESCO Publishing.
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002457/245752e.pdf.

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Discontinuation
in transmission – threats
and questions. The case
study of Glasoechko
singing in the Republic
of Macedonia
Velika Stojkova Serafimovska*

*

Ss. Cyril and Methodius University, Institute of Folklore ‘Marko Cepenkov’ (Univerzitet “Sv. Kiril i Metodij”, Institut za folklor
“Marko Cepenkov”), Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, PhD, e-mail: lika73@yahoo.com.

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Should the transmission be institutionalised or natural? Supervised
or spontaneous? How much can/should experts interfere? What are
the risks and effects of any kind of institutionalised intervention?
In the case of performing arts, is it allowed for certain elements
to change the environment of their performance? And if so, do they keep
the tradition ‘alive’? Bearers and practitioners – are they the same persons?
What to do when the triad ‘keeper–practitioner–transmitter’ is disrupted?

Glasoechko, male two-part singing in Dolni Polog, is a traditional form of vocal music characteristic to the northwestern region of the Republic of Macedonia. Songs are sung in a polyphonic
manner with the droning voice moving contrapuntally in relation to the melodic leading voice,
often accompanied by a shepherd’s flute and a bagpipe. Glasoechko is performed spontaneously
in groups of two or three, at celebrations, assemblies, weddings, dinner parties and other social
gatherings. Performance of this musical heritage constitutes a symbol of cultural identity for the
bearers, integrated within a multi-ethnic society. Practitioners of this tradition are prominent
and talented individual singers who have acquired their knowledge by imitating the techniques
and skills of their predecessors. Male two-part singing in Dolni Polog faces a number of very
serious threats to its viability, however. The number of individuals and groups that practice and
transmit it is diminishing rapidly, mostly due to the persistent outward migration of its bearers
following the civil conflict in 2001. Thus, on the one hand, younger generations’ exposure to
Glasoechko performances is extremely limited, and on the other hand, older generations believe
there is insufficient interest to warrant continued transmission. There are not many recordings
of Glasoechko songs and in its present state, the tradition seems to be on the verge of extinction.
Since its inscription on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent
Safeguarding, on the tenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of
the Intangible Cultural Heritage held in Windhoek in Namibia from 30 November to 4 December
2015, the proposed safeguarding measures have started to be implemented. Yet, even while
working on the preparation of the nomination file, as well as after the inscription, several issues

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Dr. Velika Stojkova Serafimovska during the Forum, with Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska on the left, October 2016.
Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

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have arisen which revealed challenges and problems in implementing the measures, but also in
facing the difficulties which are specific for the present situation in the concerned community
and its recent political and demographic changes.
The present condition of this element presents a case study which shows that every ICH
element is a story on its own, and requires concrete approach, specific measures, and mechanisms that need to be modified for specific communities.
Nowadays, the male two-part singing in Dolni Polog in Tetovo is almost extinct. Despite the
presence of individuals and a few groups that remember and practice this tradition, the songs
are performed increasingly less often and can only be heard on weddings (however only in
restricted circles, on the margins of the celebration events), on spontaneous gatherings of the
older generations in the village, and seldom at village dance events taking place once a year.
Since the beginning of the preparation of the nomination file, and particularly in the last year
since the inscription, several measures have been undertaken.
The attempt to revive the local festival Zvukot na Korenite (The sound of roots), which was
actively prepared and held in 2006 and subsequently in 2007 by the local TV station Kiss from
Tetovo. The festival, at which older authentic male and female groups of folk singers performed
traditional songs, offered a higher visibility to this element and provided a place where the spontaneous and natural transmission of the element began. Yet, despite all efforts, the festival only
took place twice. The festival was aimed to promote and affirm the traditional singing from the
Tetovo region, but unfortunately, the audience was once again of the older generation. Problems in securing the funding were one of the most important reasons the festival ceased to
exist. At the same time, the Gavrovski Trio is the only official male vocal group to still practice
this type of songs in which the transfer occurs naturally: from one generation to another. The
latest, youngest member of the trio, Miki Gavrovski, in all his enthusiasm, but also awareness
of the profound importance of this cultural asset, has managed to present the two-part songs
from Dolni Polog at the highest conceivable quality. Over the past 7 years, the Gavrovski Trio has
performed at a number of local and state traditional music festivals, folklore events, but also
at international festivals of traditional songs. By recording their CD, they began collaborating
with other traditional music performers, aiming to promote the two-part singing from Dolni
Polog and to become renowned all over the country. Unfortunately, all these initiatives have
faced problems since the very beginning. The Folk group Izvor from the village of Jegunovce has
also made efforts to revitalize this cultural asset, but despite all efforts, it is becoming increas-

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ingly more difficult to find practitioners ready to cooperate and transfer this knowledge to the
younger generations.

Threats, challenges and problems in implementing
the measures proposed
Perhaps the most significant factor that facilitates the disappearance of this cultural asset is
the recent change in the demographic structure of this region, which is populated by ethnic
Macedonians and ethnic Albanians. Over the past 20 years, the ethnic Macedonian population
has been moving out, whereas the number of ethnic Albanian population has been increasing.
This occurrence has increased significantly after the civil conflict in 2001, which first began in
the Tetovo region. The number of villages that were once pure ethnic Macedonian and now are
predominantly populated by ethnic Albanians is now much bigger. There are entire villages with
a changed demographic structure, yet, while preparing this file, it is in exactly these villages
that we encountered several ethnic Macedonian singers who practice Glasoechko singing. For
them, this tradition represents not just singing, but also a pure symbol of cultural identity in such
a multiethnic society. The singing is only practised by ethnic Macedonians; however, the ethnic
Albanians always appreciate and respect these songs as cultural symbols of the region.
Another serious risk of extinction is caused by the disruption of the transmission process of
this cultural asset. The younger generation has few opportunities to hear this kind of singing,
and the older generation believes there is not enough interest, and thus does not even attempt
to pass this cultural heritage further on; this, in turn, results in a practical abolishment of transmission. This happens most likely because of the specificity of the melodic/rhythmic features of
the glasoechki songs. The lack of interest among the younger generations can also be justified
with the specific style of singing, which the youth consider to be outdated and provincial. The
complex two-part structure of the songs, the specific microtonal intervals, the tremolo of the
leading voice, the contrapuntal polyphonic function of the drone: all of those hinder the process
of instilling interest and transmission. The vanishing of these elements can be noticed even in
the songs of the Gavrovski Trio. The youngest and the most prominent and enthusiastic singer
who leads the songs does not know how to perform the microtonal melodic movements in the
same way his grandfather once did. His father and his uncle, also part of the trio, know how

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to sing in this ‘old’ manner, but they do not want to ‘force’ that difficult style. Glasoechko thus
also faces changes of the old ways of singing just to be preserved.
The songs of Glasoechko have no media coverage whatsoever. The local and national TV and
radio stations have not shown any interest or provided recorded materials playable on air. There
are fewer occasions where this element could be performed. Contemporary weddings, fewer
social occasions and events, their modernisation and development of the cultural processes in
a completely different, modern direction: all of these factors have added to the pushing out
of the old glasoechki songs; however, one can still seldom find smaller groups of singers who
perform these songs on social or dance events, and sometimes also on modern weddings.
In the past 3 years, especially regarding the questions of intangible heritage, the UNESCO
2003 Convention, together with the Tourism, Culture and Sustainable Development Programme,
as well as the institutions such as the Ministry of Culture (Ministerstvo za kultura) and the Cultural
Heritage Protection Office (Upravata za zaštita na kulturnoto nasledstvo) have prepared annual
calls for the financial support of the projects that are aiming to increase the level of awareness of
the intangible heritage in multiethnic communities such as Tetovo. The local government of the
municipality of Jegunovce has also recognised the importance of intangible traditional culture
and has itself become the initiator of some of the festivals, for example, the festival of traditional songs and dances Mostovi (Bridges).
Living conditions in Dolni Polog, Tetovo, have never been changing as fast and as extensively
as now. What is more, although the dynamics of cultural, social and political processes have been
more encouraging than ever, the ability of the people to handle all these changes is limited both
institutionally and individually. Considering the threats that this element faces and following the
Convention’s recommendation, safeguarding measures have been proposed with the primary
objectives to: increase the visibility of the element as a culturally important one in the given
region and in the State, create strong network among the practitioners, implement the national
and international ICH laws in the local government legislative, provide safe and sustainable
platform for transmission and safeguarding of the element, provide constant legal and financial support for the practitioners of the element, and provide suitable space for promoting the
element on local and national levels.
Thus, the proposed safeguarding measures would: increase the visibility of the element in the
given region; reveal the cultural and social function of the element among the regional community, which will in turn encourage the young generation to acknowledge the importance of the

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element; stimulate the younger generation to learn and practice this type of singing as part
of their cultural identity; stimulate the current practitioners to transmit the knowledge, skills
and techniques of this type of singing; stimulate the governmental network to promote this
element as part of the Macedonian intangible cultural heritage on local, national and international level; and provide a strong network between the practitioners and local government that
will contribute to the future transmission and promotion of the element as important cultural
heritage of the region.
In 2016, the representatives from the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Macedonia, Institute
of Folklore ‘Marko Cepenkov’ and the Cultural Heritage Protection Office formed a team that
would work with the concerned community and local bearers, as well as with the representatives
from the local government. However, the process has revealed another situation in the field,
which provoked problems and challenges of a mainly political nature: since the conflict in 2001
and because of the new territorial administrative division of the country in 2004, and following
the last elections of the Local Government in 2005, the Municipality of Tetovo, which is the main
administrative center of the Dolni Polog region, is ruled by the Albanian political party. With
regard to the projects aiming to protect, foster and promote the culture in the given region, in
the past years, the Mayor of Tetovo – who is ethnically Albanian – has marginalised the Macedonian proposals. This has resulted in difficulties in conducting the proposed safeguarding measures on the local level. The Macedonian population, that is the local community and bearers of
the Glasoechko singing, have thus almost no support from the local government of Tetovo. They
can only expect some support from the Municipality of Jegunovce, which is a very small and the
only one Macedonian Municipality in the region, with restricted capacity to implement bigger
projects. Considering this, the only financial support for the bearers can be expected from the
state institutions, which makes it sometimes very complicated in following the Macedonian
legislation regarding ICH. However, this is a real situation, which we were well aware of when
preparing the nomination file, and which poses a serious threat to the viability of the element
itself. Another internal division in the Macedonian population of this region occurred in the last
two years, following the political turmoil between Macedonian political parties in the country.
It resulted in the division of the Macedonian community in Dolni Polog into two Macedonian
political parties. It seems that the main two singing groups and the possible local ICH agents in
the regions are also divided, and according to the present situation, they have political problems
and suffer from restricted communication based on politics, rather than on mutual benefits.

Part 4. ICH and sustainable development

As a member of the team, I encountered many surprising situations in which the only problems
were political ones. After several visits, we realised that in these cases, the local government
will not provide support for implementing the safeguarding measures proposed. This leaves the
tasks of fieldwork and implementation of the proposed measures to state institutions.
Several questions arise in this delicate metacultural process, which also question the directions of the ICH Convention themselves (Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 2004; Grant 2010). The main
bearers of the Glasoechko singing have a visible will to cooperate and implement the measures,
yet they are finding themselves somehow pre-conditioned by their political preference toward
one or another Macedonian political party (the ruling party or the opposition). We have thus
realised that in order for the safeguarding measures to be implemented, they must be altered
and changed in several ways. However, following the newest Ethical Principles for Safeguarding
Intangible Cultural Heritage (Decision 10.COM 15.a) one can ask: Should the transmission be
institutionalised or natural? Supervised or spontaneous? How much can/should experts interfere? What are the risks and effects of any kind of institutionalised intervention? In the case of
performing arts, is it allowed for certain elements to change the environment of their performance? And if so, do they keep the tradition ‘alive’? Bearers and practitioners – are they the same
persons? What to do when the triad ‘keeper–practitioner–transmitter’ is disrupted?
This case study can shed light on some of the ways that traditional culture is in a dynamic
relationship with social, political, and economic processes; and the ways in which safeguarding
practices must consider this dynamic relationship (Stojkova Serafimovska, Wilson, and Opetčeska
Tatarčevska 2016). Finally, we must remember that the traditional performing art is a living
matter that constantly changes, transforms, transits, and lives as a separate entity that absorbs
and records all changes to individuals, performers, communities, collectives, regions, and the
peoples it originated from. It changes from personal or collective expression to public national
cultural heritage; from a spiritual asset into a commercial product; from the limited artistic form
and a part of the syncretic rite and everyday life into differentiated musical expressions and
forms; from local rural culture into an element of urban and national culture (Peĭcheva 2014).
Although the long-term effects, in this case, remain to be seen, it suggests that the processes
of safeguarding ICH, when implemented in ways that empower local tradition-bearers, may be
effective in sustaining cultural traditions even when safeguarded ICH elements are simultaneously employed for other political and ideological ends.

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References
Grant, Catherine. 2010. “The Links between Safeguarding Language and Safeguarding Musical Heritage.” International Journal of Intangible Heritage 5: 46–59.
Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara. 2004. “Intangible Heritage as Metacultural Production.” Museum International 56
(1–2): 52–65.
Peĭcheva, Lozanka. 2014. “Narodnata muzika kato nematerialno kulturno nasledstvo: konstruirane i upotrebi
[Folk music as intangible cultural heritage: Construction and uses].” In Dni na nasledstvoto 2013 [Heritage
Days 2013], edited by Lozanka Peĭcheva, 291–308. Sofia: Akademichno izdatelstvo “Prof. Marin Drinov.”
Stojkova Serafimovska, Velika, Dave Wilson, and Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska. 2016. “Safeguarding Intangible
Cultural Heritage in the Republic of Macedonia.” Yearbook for Traditional Music 48: 1–25.

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SUMMARY

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Ten remarks on the 10th
anniversary of entry
into force of the 2003
UNESCO Convention for
the Safeguarding of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage
Hanna Schreiber*

*

Institute of International Relations, Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, University of Warsaw, PhD,
e-mail: hanna.s@uw.edu.pl.

Summary

10 remarks:
1. The 2003 Convention has radically changed the way of thinking about and defining cultural
heritage.
2. The 2003 Convention is a ‘sister’ of the 1972 and the 2005 Conventions.
3. The 2003 Convention is a legal, social, but also a political instrument, which in certain cases
is misused and leads to ‘side effects’.
4. The Representative List is everything. And it lives its own life.
5. The 2003 Convention reinforces the prestige and the soft power of the countries and UNESCO
itself.
6. The Convention evoked new processes of patrimonialisation (heritagisation).
7. The 2003 Convention created new fields of power for the research about the human and culture,
especially for cultural anthropology (ethnology, ethnography, folklore studies).
8. The 2003 Convention was the first to give voice and subjectivity to communities, groups, and
individuals.
9. The well-thought implementation of the 2003 Convention on the local level is its most powerful
advantage, which may in practice ensure the realisation of the concept of sustainable development.
10. The Convention is the biggest achievement of the contemporary international cultural heritage
law, and at the same time it leads to its further fragmentation.

Introduction
Writing about the 2003 Convention1 as the greatest legislative triumph of the last decade (since
its entry into force in 2006) in the field of international cultural heritage law has become somewhat obligatory; it is a kind of a chorus; a phrase which all articles on it should start with (see, for
example, Blake 2009, 45; Duvelle 2014, 27). It is, however, well-justified; when we compare the
speed of its ratification with other legal instruments adopted in the area of cultural heritage under
UNESCO auspices, this statement becomes firmly warranted.
1

Dziennik Ustaw [Journal of Laws] 2011 no. 172 item 1018.

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Ten years after the entry into force of the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the
World Cultural and Natural Heritage2 in 1975, it had 87 states-parties; the 1970 Convention on
the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of
Cultural Property3 was ratified by 47 states (since its entry into force in April 1972); The 1954
Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict4 had
52 states-parties. The closest in terms of success to the 2003 Convention is currently the 2005
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions,5 which
entered into force in March 2007 and had 144 states-parties at the end of 2016. However, it is still
far behind the success of the 2003 Convention, which only after 10 years of its entry into force,
in 2016, reached 172 member states.
Although the 2003 Convention still lacks more than 20 ratifications to reach the status of the
most widely ratified international treaty in the world, currently held by the Vienna Convention for
the Protection of the Ozone Layer6 with 197 member states (‘Most-ratified international treaties’
2012), the speed of ratifications suggests that in 2023, during its 20th anniversary (or in 2026, during
the anniversary of its entry into force), it will come very close to this number, however, the chances
of matching it are not high due to some points of dispute over, among others, the indigenous
peoples or the political tradition of regulating the culture sector via legislative measures (which
prevents it from being signed by some countries, such as the United States, Great Britain, Canada,
Russia, or New Zealand). However, taking into consideration the six countries whose politics will
probably not undergo a sudden change, the number of 190 ratifications seems very likely to be
achieved long before 2023. One can thus talk about ‘implementation optimism’ and a real ‘success
story’ of this instrument. It is therefore worth to attempt to formulate a number of remarks basing
on the articles presented in this volume that summarise the changes that have been caused by the
adoption of the 2003 Convention so that one may see if in 10 years’ time they are still valid, verify
what kind of unforeseen changes they will have resulted with, and assess whether they were the
right answers for the identified challenges and threats.

2

Dziennik Ustaw 1976 no.32 item 190.

3

Dziennik Ustaw 1974 no. 20 item 106.

4

Dziennik Ustaw 1957 no. 46 item 212, appendix.

5

Dziennik Ustaw 2007 no. 215 item 1585.

6

Dziennik Ustaw 1992 no. 98 item 488.

Summary

Remark 1: the 2003 Convention has radically changed the way
of thinking about and defining cultural heritage.
The new definition of cultural heritage introduced by the 2003 Convention has radically altered the
way of thinking and defining the entire area of heritage, including its fields that have a grounded
literary output (e.g. cultural and natural heritage). This statement constitutes yet another verse of
the chorus, without which the analysis of the Convention is impossible. The research, documentation, and protection of the areas that are safeguarded by the definition of the convention are
not a novelty; in fact, in many countries, they have been in place for centuries, and since the 19th
century they have been more organised and systematised in frameworks of the scientific disciplines emerging at that time (anthropology, ethnology, ethnography, sociology of culture), or in
publication series (such as, for example, the research of Oskar Kolberg quoted by Jan Adamowski
in this volume). However, as noticed by Danijela Filipović in this volume, with the adaptation of the
UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, this issue has come
under debate again and became analysed in a completely new way. This new context, emerging
with the 2003 Convention, is one that blurs the previous boundaries between what is tangible and
intangible, what is cultural and natural, what belongs to the future or to the past, what is subjected
to the actions of communities and individuals or experts and administrators, and what brings prestige to the West and the East (see Mishkova, in this volume; Schreiber 2017). Through the 2003
Convention, the first and, arguably, the most serious renegotiation since the 18th century of what
is and can be ‘cultural heritage’, has become a fact.

Remark 2: the 2003 Convention is a ‘sister’ of the 1972
and the 2005 Conventions.
The 2003 Convention was created in the period between the adoption of the 1972 Convention
Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and of the 2005 Convention
on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and has a lot in common
with them, including the organisational structure concept, certain procedures, and lists of heritage
(apart from the 2005 Convention). However, each one of them has different goals, philosophy
of culture safeguarding and the historical context of its development (see, for example, Smith

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The Gala audience – the II Official Ceremony of Awarding Diplomas of Inscription into the National ICH List.
Ceremony closing the Forum in Sukiennice (Cloth Hall), Kraków, October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek,
© National Heritage Board of Poland.

Intervention by Michał Malinowski, Storyteller Museum – MuBaBaO, member of the Polish Council for ICH,
October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Summary

and Akagawa 2009; Skounti 2011; Smeets and Deacon 2017). Nevertheless, they are regarded
as belonging to the same ‘family’ of UNESCO legal regulations (Duvelle 2014).
Still, the differences between them are pointed out more often than their similarities; it is the
departure from the rules governing the 1972 Convention that has made the 2003 Convention so
unique and was a sign of its revolutionary character: placing the communities, groups and individuals in the centre, focusing on sustaining living practices and phenomena, accepting their fragile
and dynamic character and rejecting the concept of outstanding universal value. It was also meant
to fulfil the hopes connected to the de-westernisation of the international heritage safeguarding
regime (Meskell, Liuzza, and Brown 2015). The logic of the 2003 Convention: safeguarding the practices and communities is also different to the one of the drafters of the 2005 Convention: protection
of the national culture industries against the treats of globalisation. So what makes them so related?
Marju Kõivupuu (Estonia, in this volume) points out to these inspirations using the example
of cross-trees, which link together the natural, tangible, and intangible heritage. She also points
out to the osmosis of definitions and practical solutions taking place in Estonia due to the use of
the documents adopted on the international forum, particularly UNESCO and IUCN (International
Union for Conservation of Nature). Moreover, she highlights the influence of these solutions on
the everyday life of the inhabitants of sites where all aspects and layers of heritage intertwine and
link together. A place similar to the region of Võru in Estonia is described by Katarzyna Zalasińska
(in this volume) – Kalwaria Zebrzydowska in Poland, and its example of landscape arrangement. She
notices: ‘Taking into consideration the religious practices performed in this place as an intangible
element and linking it with material heritage, it indicates a desirable direction for thinking about
landscape as a type of cultural space that is complemented by elements of intangible heritage’.
Indeed, the category of cultural landscape emerged in 1992 in the system of the 1972 Convention and allowed taking into consideration various examples of interactions between humans and
nature, including practices of religious, artistic, and cultural nature (Luengo and Rössler 2012).
Such bridges that connect both Conventions include the criterion VI of the inscription on the World
Heritage List: ‘the cultural property should be directly or tangibly associated with events or living
traditions, ideas or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance’. The importance of this criterion as a link is reduced, however, by the fact that it can only be
applied as a supplementary criterion.
Mirela Hrovatin (in this volume) finds the connections between the 1972 and 2003 Convention and heads towards a holistic treatment of heritage, describing the possibilities of employing

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long-established knowledge and skills in the traditional dry-stone wall building on the Starigrad
Plain in Hvar, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The importance of this place and of the
inscription generates an increased interest in preserving the intangible heritage elements present
in this area, which are inseparable from cultural and natural heritage.
The ties between the 2003 and 2005 Conventions are mentioned, in turn, by the experts from
Albania, who write about the new draft act on cultural heritage, which contains a special chapter
devoted to ICH, reflecting the duties outlined in both Conventions (Breshani and Dollani, in this
volume).
Everything thus points to the fact that the practical functioning of these three legal acts
in a specific place, on one territory, and additionally bonded together strongly by the concept
of sustainable development (2005 Convention Preamble and main text, Chapter VI in the Operational Directives of the 2003 Convention, adopted in 2016, and the Policy on the integration of
a sustainable development perspective into the processes of the World Heritage Convention,
adopted in 2015) leads to the situation in which the conceptualisation of the integrated, coherent
way that heritage and the policies surrounding it should be safeguarded (e.g. those that relate to
cultural industries) is becoming a crucial challenge for the next 10 years. The undertaken initiatives to reflect on these connections, such as the conference in Bergen (Norway) in 2014 – called
‘International Conference on UNESCO 1972, 2003 and 2005 Conventions: Synergies for development: using natural and cultural heritage in sustainable development’ – confirm that a harmoniously connected implementation of these Conventions in the future is not only necessary for the
communities, groups and individuals and the civil society as a whole (article 11 of the 2005 Convention), but also from the perspective of the states and UNESCO themselves (Duvelle 2017, in print).

Remark 3: the 2003 Convention is a legal, social, but also
a political instrument, which in certain cases is misused
and leads to ‘side effects’.
The contentment that marked adopting the Convention eventually joined with critical voices, which
have nowadays become especially loud. Only a month after the publication of the 2003 Convention – as noticed by Adina Hulubaş (in this volume) – specialists began to voice their concerns that
the heritage safeguarding system can lead to the emergence of a ‘specific environment that only

Summary

mimics nature’ (Brown 2012, 95). One of the experts argued that the new regulations might even
‘change the course of things’ (Kurin 2012, 100). Moreover, An Deming (in this volume) adds a critical observation to these concerns:
… a number of problems have also risen simultaneously. Among them, the central one is the paradox
between the UNESCO ideal theory and the actual practice of ICH safeguarding in specific contexts. It has not
only caused competition or conflict between different places in the country, and caused various countries to
fight over property rights to traditional events, but has also diminished the authority and confidence of the
common people as traditional bearers in expressing themselves through their own culture.

The researchers from Macedonia (Stojkova Serafimovska and Opetčeska Tatarčevska, in this
volume) point out to the side effects connected to the functioning of the Convention caused
by encompassing certain elements of intangible heritage into the safeguarding system, thus,
at the same time, into the legal-political framework. They highlight the political nature of the
Convention and its role as a pretext for strengthening the local and national identity (Stojkova
Serafimovska 2014).
In the Republic of Macedonia, the establishment and development of institutional mechanisms for the
safeguarding of ICH are inextricably linked to politics on the international level, particularly with regard
to the contestation of the existence of the Macedonian ethnicity characterised by a distinct language
and culture. … As a consequence, the state has put significant focus on affirming and publicising the
national and cultural identity, which, in turn, has spurred processes of recontextualisation and heritagisation of ICH.

What is more, even the traditional Galičnik wedding (Macedonia) that is under protection became
a state-sponsored reconstruction of a traditional wedding that highlighted the ethnic distinctiveness of Macedonian heritage. At the same time, the researchers emphasise that, despite the emergence of this political dimension in the creation of the ICH safeguarding system in their country, the
processes of safeguarding ICH, when implemented in ways that empower local tradition-bearers,
may be effective in sustaining cultural traditions even when safeguarded ICH elements are simultaneously employed for other political or economic ends’ (Stojkova Serafimovska and Opetčeska
Tatarčevska, in this volume).
Thus, apart from the political dimension of the Convention, we also need to notice its powerful
influence on other practices and customs that are seemingly outside of its scope. An example of
such unforeseen, unintended ‘side effects’ resulting from the local and national implementation
of the 2003 Convention, often brought up by researchers, is commercialisation of the intangible

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cultural heritage phenomena. Adina Hulubaş analyses this situation basing on the Horezu ceramics,
inscribed on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2012:
Unfortunately, potters from other ethnographic zones react to its success in an imperilling manner.
In Marginea, Suceava, black pots have been produced until eight years ago and made the village famous for
their specific craftsmanship. Today, tourists entering the workshop encounter Horezu plates for sale, which
are brought from 500 km away. Other potters paint the Horezu cock, a trademark image for these ceramic
products, on plates whose chromatics belong to the Baia Mare region, up in the northern part of Romania
(Hulubaş, in this volume).

Yet, the sole presence of a phenomenon on the Representative List does not guarantee its safeguarding; sometimes it might even jeopardise the heritage element as it creates a breakthrough
moment in its functioning: the change occurs in the perception of the element by its depositaries,
and by the local, country-wide, as well as the international environment (Romanková-Kuminková,
in this volume; Turgeon 2014). It can also become the bone of contention and a source of international conflicts, which is analysed by An Deming (in this volume) and exemplified by the Gangneung
Danoje and the Duanwu (also known as the Festival of Dragon Boats) festivals in Korea. The former
was acclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005. Moreover, they both occur on the same day (5 May according to the moon calendar) and they both –
as signified by their names – base on the same Chinese concept of ‘Duanwu’. The conflict about the
‘property rights’ to them has led to the worsening of mutual relations, which costs both countries
a significant amount of time and effort to re-establish them.
Among many side effects, one can also mention the disappearance of previous meanings and
functions tied to, on the one hand, commercialisation and increased touristic interest with a given
element, and on the other hand, to the natural inclination of the bearers to earn money and
increase their standard of life (see Skounti 2017). In this publication, such case of folklorisation
of intangible cultural heritage is described by Adina Hulubaş, who uses the example of the ‘Căluş
Ritual’, inscribed on the Representative List in 2008 (proclaimed as a Masterpiece of the Oral and
Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005). Traditionally, it was organised only nine times a year,
beginning with the first day of Whit Sunday, and the participating dancers, who all had been
secretly initiated into the group, travelled from village to village and carried the promise of curing
the barren women and people ailed by widely fearsome diseases such as, for example, epilepsy. As
noticed by Hulubaş, after the inscription on the List all the mystical elements became immediately
forgotten and the only lore learned by the new adepts of this performance is related to dance

Summary

virtuosity, presented on various festivals, weddings, processions or other festivities throughout
the whole year.
The issue of side effects tied to the functioning of the Convention, together with the philosophy
of intangible heritage safeguarding, is perfectly summarised in a joke by Valdimar Hafstein, which
points out to the common way of thinking about intangible heritage as a phenomenon (in the
meaning of a problem, or an illness) that needs to be ‘diagnosed’ (documented, assessed, inscribed
on a list) in order to decide on applying the necessary remedies.
At the doctor’s office:
Patient: “What is it, doctor?”
Doctor: “There’s no easy way to break this to you: you have heritage.”
Patient: “Heritage? Are you serious? What kind?”
Doctor: “Intangible. I’m sorry.”
Patient: “Intangible heritage … How bad is it?”
Doctor: “It is in urgent need of safeguarding. It’s already metacultural.”
Patient: “What’s the prognosis?”
Doctor: “Intangible heritage is chronic, I’m afraid. It is often terminal, but in your case, there is a reason to be
optimistic. You can live with your heritage for a long time to come, provided we take immediate measures
to safeguard it.”
Patient: “Will it be painful?”
Doctor: “I won’t lie to you. The treatment is not pleasant. You will have to learn to relate differently to yourself and to your heritage from here on out.”
Patient: “Shouldn’t we get a second opinion?”
Doctor: “I recommend contacting UNESCO. If they agree with the diagnosis, we might get you on their list.”
Patient: “Would that help?”
Doctor: “If you’re listed, UNESCO can help document your heritage, identify its elements, analyze the mode
of transmission, raise awareness, even draw up a five-year safeguarding plan.”
Patient: “Is all that really necessary?”
Doctor: “Without proper treatment, I’m afraid your heritage may lose what authenticity it has left. Worst
case scenario, you might be looking at a full-blown case of fakelore.”
Patient: “Wait a minute. That’s what they said when our parents’ generation came down with tradition.
But they beat that.”
Doctor: “They did, with a lot of drugs. But back in those days, tradition responded to drugs. Intangible

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heritage is more serious. And it is highly communicable. We haven’t found an effective way to contain it
yet.” (Hafstein 2015, 282)

The joke shows the problem which might accompany the introduction of external measures into
the current situation of heritage, as the side effects might in some cases outweigh the expected
benefits stemming from taking safeguarding measures. The reflection on this paradox reminds
somewhat of the common saying that ‘I had better not visit the doctor, he might find that something is wrong with me’. We know, however, that in many cases it is this approach that actually
brings negative results. The Convention, thus, should be perhaps treated as a dose of aspirin: even
though it seems good for everything and it is effective in treating inflammation, in certain cases it
carries a risk of causing an allergic reaction – and such was the case with the Horezu ceramics and
the ‘Căluş Ritual’.

Remark 4: the Representative List is everything.
And it lives its own life.
‘World heritage is first and foremost a list’ wrote Barbara Kirschenblatt-Gimblett (2004, 57). This
sentence perfectly fits to the Representative List, together with the opinion of Valdimar Hafstein
(2009, 93) that ‘the lists [of heritage – H.S.] frequently live a life of their own’, which suggests that
heritage elements – firstly decontextualised by the nomination procedure and then recontextualised by placing them on the lists – are beginning to function in a new way. The immense impact
of the Representative List can be noticed in this very publication. There is no text that would not
quote it at least once or would not mention it (in most cases, it is mentioned as an achievement of
a country, sometimes, as a neutral fact, in some – critically, see texts by Eva Románková-Kuminková
or Adina Hulubaş).
Eva Románková-Kuminková even begins her paper with the accurate statement: ‘Everyone
wants to be on the list!’. It is because the list is becoming somewhat of a gauge; a tangible
proof for the power of culture; an element of soft power (Schreiber 2017) of a given country
that has managed to successfully inscribe an element of its heritage on the international
forum and thus made it visible, noticeable, and widely esteemed. The list, therefore, is a clear
source of information about what is considered to be a carrier of social (but not only!) values
(see Schuster 2002, 15).

Summary

Equipping the Convention with the List has to be also considered as an element of expanding
the knowledge about the Convention itself, as well as raising awareness and highlighting the
meaning of intangible heritage. ‘It is vital, as it means that the humanity – and this sounds proud
– recognises our customs and pays attention to them as authentic, valuable, and attractive’,
noticed the director of the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków, when he commented on the
first Polish nomination in 2017 for the inscription of the Nativity Scene tradition in Kraków on
the Representative List (Gazur 2017). ‘The humanity’ in the case of the Representative List thus
directly replaced ‘the world’ from the World Heritage List (1972 Convention). And even though
the 2003 Convention currently avoids the terms ‘uniqueness’, ‘authenticity’, ‘mastery’ or ‘masterpiece’, ‘world’ or ‘universal’ (UNESCO 2016a, para. 31), it is those terms that are commonly tied
to the concept of ‘the list’: something must, therefore ‘deserve’ to be inscribed, and the proof
that it indeed does is its ‘distinctiveness’, ‘authenticity’ or ‘uniqueness’. In this way, the collection of meanings and connotations tied to the World Heritage List becomes passed on – almost
genetically – to the Representative List of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity, the title of which
might for many be as well ‘The List of Authentic Intangible Heritage of the World’, as every one
of the 365 currently inscribed elements (as of December 2016) might be considered a ‘worldscale phenomenon’ (Gazur 2017). It was even directly stated so by the representatives of various
organisations and communities when they filed the declarations of consent to inscribe yoga as
‘world heritage’ on the Representative List in 2016…7 What is interesting is that a similar title was
proposed in the draft version of the Convention: The List of Treasures of the World Intangible
Cultural Heritage (article 11C; see UNESCO 2003, para. 20) and the arguments that advocated
its creation included, among others, the following (proposed by the representative of Benin on
behalf of a group of African countries): if we do not create a list of masterpieces of intangible
heritage as a part of this Convention, it will be treated as a ‘second rate’ Convention and not
as good as the one from 1972 (Hafstein 2009, 103).
The enormous impact of an inscription on the Representative List on states is also highlighted
by the intense efforts of the national delegations to influence the Intergovernmental Committee
– in the case of the Evaluation Body’s8 negative recommendation of the nomination prepared by
said states for the Intergovernmental Committee – to nevertheless press the Committee to decide
7

Nomination file no. 01163 and the consent of communities are available online, see UNESCO 2017.

8

Created to assess applications in 2015 as a successor of the Subsidiary Body and the Consultative Body. In the draft Convention
the latter was provisionally named Scientific Council, see UNESCO 2003, para. 17.

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Cross-cultural encounter. Polish falconry specialists meeting an ICH expert from China, October 2016.
Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Cross-cultural encounter. Perebory (weaving traditions in the Bug River region) bearers with Professor An Deming
from China, October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Summary

positively on the inscription. This situation finally in 2016 became jarring and caused a general
discontentment, both among the states – observers of the Committee meeting as well as within
the Committee itself. In 2016, in Addis Abeba, out of 19 negative recommendations, as much
as 15 were inscribed on the Representative List (thus ignoring the recommendation of the Evaluation Body). A special ad-hoc group has been therefore created with the aim of solving this issue
in the future. This problem itself can be also treated as ‘heritage’ of the World Heritage List and,
furthermore, as an element of the functioning of almost every international treaty that is developed and ratified by states, and governed by the established organs operating under the provisions of this treaty comprised – again – of the representatives of these states.
Such perception of the meaning of the Representative List is a source of natural determination
among the states to prepare nationwide applications – as, in such way, their social and political
meaning increases (see Duvelle 2014). Hence, we see inscriptions where the term ‘a community’
– which according to the ideas of the Convention creators was supposed to pertain to a specifically defined social group that inhabits a specific territory, tied by intangible cultural heritage
practices – is interpreted as ‘community’, or in other words, the entire ‘nation-state’, such as in
the case of ‘Turkish coffee culture and tradition’ (2013), ‘Gastronomic meal of the French’ (2010),
or ‘Chinese calligraphy’ (2009).
At the same time, there is a need to highlight the fact that during this fight for a change
of perception of the Representative List there has been an increasing pressure on the previously
‘neglected’ registers: List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding (Article
17 of the Convention, the number of inscriptions as of 2016: 47) or the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices (Article 18 of the Convention, number of inscriptions as of 2016: 17).
Thus, in this context, three basic questions emerge: first, will it be possible to realistically balance
the Representative List by inscriptions on the Urgent Safeguarding List and the Register of Good
Practices within the next 10 years and thus change the vector of the interests of countries and the
centre of gravity of the Convention? Second, is it possible to create, and if yes, what are the mechanisms that limit the political character of the actions tied to the Representative List inscription
procedure and can they be prepared and implemented in the subsequent years? Third, in what way
should the communities, groups, and individuals be helped after the inscription on the Representative List – despite the frequent post-inscription commercialisation and folklorisation – so that the
phenomena nurtured by them do not lose their original, important pre-inscription context?

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Remark 5: the 2003 Convention reinforces the prestige and the
soft power of the countries and UNESCO itself.
This aspect of the Convention is not only a pleasant addition to the ‘usual’ activities of states;
in fact, it is a crucial strategic element in the current ‘beauty contest’ of states on the international
arena and in their struggles to achieve high ranks on the ranking of ‘international attractiveness’ –
the soft power rankings of countries. This soft power is undoubtedly built up by the inscriptions on
the Representative List; however, they are still not visible in the assessment criteria of soft power
in the most popular rankings of countries: Soft Power 30 and the Elcano Global Index (Schreiber
2017). This pivotal aspect tied to the 2003 Convention is mentioned in this volume by Eva Románková-Kuminková:
An inscription on the Representative List is a highly prestigious matter and the States Parties to the Convention approach it accordingly. It means that political motives can very easily push away any ideals and the
well-intentioned wishes of experts to provide responsible international protection. … Thus, on the one
hand, the Representative List promotes the goals and ideals of the Convention, and on the other hand,
it creates space for political and institutional manipulation.

Joseph Nye furthermore states: ‘a country’s soft power is based on three resources: its culture
(in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and
abroad), and its foreign policy (when others see it as legitimate moral authority)’ (Schreiber 2017,
45). The researchers of cultural politics have noticed that in the 19th century, countries that were
conscious of the primary role of their cultures began to compete in a ‘global race for soft power’
(Holden 2013). It is also connected to the highly popular concept of the so-called ‘nation branding’
of Simon Anholt (Anholt 2006, 23). There is thus a reason why the states which possess the largest
resources of soft power are leaders in the strength of their ‘brands’ (Schreiber 2017); rankings of
national brands are created in parallel to the soft power rankings.9 This concept, however, is not
limited solely to countries; it is also used to point out the ‘attractiveness’ of non-state actors, such
as international organisations, and UNESCO in particular. This organisation, through its arbitrary
role in culture and cultural heritage, has significant resources of soft power and an awareness of
them and employs this potential in positioning itself in the environment of important international
organisations. The emergence of a new act of international law: the 2003 Convention, together
9

The most well-known ones include S. Anholt’s Nation Brand Index (NBI) and the Country Brand Index (CBI) of Future Brands.

Summary

with the new concept of intangible cultural heritage that it brought, has led to increasing the soft
power of UNESCO itself, as the organisation that safeguards the increasing number of processes
that legitimise heritage.
The concept of soft power has become the leading one in determining the roles and tasks
of UNESCO in the widely understood process of consultations on the UN Post-2015 Development
Agenda, which were accepted in 2015 as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the introduction to the UNESCO document prepared in April 2014, named Soft Power Agenda in short (UNESCO
2014), Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, stated that the organisation is a key actor of soft
power (UNESCO 2016b; Schreiber 2017).
The prestigious character of being visible on the UNESCO forum and having inscriptions on
the heritage lists may also bring positive consequences. The states that want to be visible and
respected for the actions related with safeguarding intangible heritage undertake real administrative and legislative efforts, which in turn change the situation in the area of intangible cultural
heritage in their countries. They can also guide the countries that have only started their journey
into this area. This interpretation of a country’s role in the process, adopted by China, is described
by Chen Fafen (in this volume), who notices: ‘Especially when China’s first law – the Law of the
People’s Republic of China on intangible cultural heritage protection – was enacted in 2011, it has
accelerated the progress of China’s intangible cultural heritage safeguarding, and strengthened
the awareness of its entire society about intangible cultural heritage, and furthermore, significantly improved China’s global influence’. At the same time, a direct impulse to such action was
provided by UNESCO, which encouraged countries to develop their safeguarding systems through
its Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity programme. Today, ICH safeguarding in China is described as one of the national goals.
A similar approach to prestige – embedded into the functioning of the 2003 Convention –
and its potential positive outcomes is mentioned in this volume by Adina Hulubaş:
The steps towards a secure future may be symbolised by an image of concentric waves on water, created by
an object falling in. In the centre, we have the public acknowledgement of cultural value, but then local initiatives have to be supported and protected from the pressure exerted by central standards. … These initiatives, along with the activities of the National Commission for the Safeguarding of ICH, gradually ripple the
public awareness and aim at creating a sustainable development for ICH in Romania, involving citizens, civil
societies, the business sector, and the higher authorities. … A company uses the Living Human Treasures
programme for their brand campaign, which might have been an inspiration from the ceremony held at the

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presidential palace last year. This act of public recognition is a vivid example of the circular waves created
by prestige; it has managed to involve all the above mentioned social entities.

Prestige in the field of culture is thus built by creating a space for cooperation and dialogue.
In this way, the actions undertaken by the countries on the UNESCO forum legitimise this institution as somewhat of an arbiter that creates and oversees the international cultural heritage regime
(or to be precise, regimes. For a description of various regimes, see Bendix, Eggert, and Peselmann
2013).
Furthermore, as noticed by researchers Velika Stojkova Serafimovska and Ivona Opetčeska
Tatarčevska in this volume: ‘It is also a matter of prestige in a world of United Nations’ activities
to be networked in this system and to cooperate on an equal level with other states. ICH has the
power to solve conflicts, mainly because in many different ways it goes beyond political borders’.
This can be supported by the evidence of the multinational inscriptions on the Representative
List which unite the communities, groups, individuals, and countries in a common goal, and result
in tangible and concrete outcomes through the creation of fora for communication, education,
dialogue, and joint action.

Remark 6: the Convention evoked new processes
of patrimonialisation (heritagisation).
The term ‘patrimonialisation’ has a Latin etymology: patrimonium means homeland, but also property. It points out, however, not at the object – the heritage, but at the sole fact of the presence
of a specific heritage making policies, and it highlights the activity of selecting what is meant to
become heritage (in foreign literature this term is used interchangeably with the term ‘heritagisation’, see Adell et al. 2015). It thus points out to a heritage that is subjected to transformations
and incessant practices of ascribing status to the chosen testimonies of the past and using this
status for the sake of the present. On the level of international relations, the term patrimonialisation thus concerns the research of political processes aimed at the concept of cultural heritage
as a specific resource, which must be subjected to procedures of legitimisation and institutionalisation on various international fora, basing on specific selection, classification, and hierarchisation policies related to those elements of this resource, which are regarded as worthy from the
perspective of a specific individual, group, community, local, national, or international government

Summary

administration, and meet the criteria created by and enforced by the legitimate organisations:
councils, committees, commissions, and expert teams (Schreiber 2016b). Thus, patrimonialisation
is an element of the cultural policy of states, but also of international organisations, local communities, and other subjects in the realm of functioning in various international cultural heritage
regimes (on fragmentation, see remark 10). It is moreover an element of the cultural policy that
proposes a ‘specific reading of the past’ (Kowalski 2013, 11), in which, however, the past plays
a gradually less important role than the challenges of the present. In this present time, it is the
people and their needs – the bearers of the heritage – that become more important, or at least,
as important as the heritage itself (see remark 6).
The 2003 Convention encourages reading the past in a way that will make it into a mere
springboard; a starting point for highlighting the continuity of practices related to the bearers of
the heritage. The Convention’s philosophy encompasses, above all, the present and the future,
together with the individuals and groups rooted in sustaining their intangible heritage.
The authors of this volume notice this way in which the Convention works. Velika Stojkova Serafimovska and Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska employ this perspective to write about the Kopačkata
dance, which was one of the first elements that the Republic of Macedonia applied to be inscribed
on the UNESCO ICH list in 2011. The actions undertaken in order to prepare this application initiated new processes of patrimonialisation, tied to both the UNESCO guidelines related to the implementation of the intangible cultural heritage safeguarding system, as well as to the contemporary
political factors (Stojkova Serafimovska and Opetčeska Tatarčevska, in this volume). The same thing
occurred – however, without UNESCO’s participation as it did not manage to become inscribed –
to the Galičnik wedding, in whose current form the borders between a national festivity, a corporate-organised ritual, a festival organised for tourists, and a staged folklore and cyclical event have
become blurred (Opetčeska Tatarčevska, in this volume). Ivona Opetčeska Tatarčevska notices that,
on the one hand, the institutionalised ICH safeguarding systems are always grounded in the political
processes of patrimonialisation and recontextualisation and thus are subjected to their influence, but
on the other hand, the way and the degree to which these processes affect cultural practices differ
substantially, even within the borders of the same country. To use Adina Hulubaş’s metaphor about
the concentric waves that appear after dropping a stone in water, it is not difficult to notice that even
the elements that officially remain outside the processes of patrimonialisation stemming from the
2003 Convention are nevertheless subjected to its influence – even if they are playing a secondary
role, they still have to relate or subordinate to the primary processes that run in parallel.

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The welcoming of the guests of the Forum by the mining orchestra in Wieliczka Salt Mine, October 2016.
Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Polish national dances in Wieliczka Salt Mine, October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board
of Poland.

Summary

These processes of redefining heritage for the purposes of the UNESCO list nomination procedure, which include, among others, a visible identification of safeguarding institutions and the
creation of spaces for obtaining consent from the bearers of the heritage, can be observed with
almost every application, regardless of the country.
At the same time, they generate the need to create institutions that guard the procedures
which legitimise, classify, select, and include or exclude certain elements from this heritage
resource. This does not remain unnoticed by the researchers from Croatia (Hrovatin i Šimunković, in this volume):
The preparation of the nomination files for two editions of the UNESCO Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity programme in 2003 and 2005 resulted in the formation of a special expert
Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage in Croatia in 2002, and a special Department for ICH in the
Ministry of Culture in 2004 that prepared the first inscriptions into the National Registry of Cultural Goods
of the Republic of Croatia …

These challenges are addressed accurately by Velika Stojkova Serafimovska (in this volume),
who notices also a positive side in these patrimonialisation processes driven by the Convention,
in places where they lead to local bearers becoming independent:
the traditional performing art is a living matter that constantly changes, transforms, transits, and lives
as a separate entity that absorbs and records all changes to individuals, performers, communities, collectives, regions, and the peoples it originated from. It changes from personal or collective expression to public
national cultural heritage; from a spiritual asset into a commercial product; from the limited artistic form
and a part of the syncretic rite and everyday life into differentiated musical expressions and forms; from
local rural culture into an element of urban and national culture (Peĭcheva 2014). Although the long-term
effects, in this case, remain to be seen, it suggests that the processes of safeguarding ICH, when implemented in ways that empower local tradition-bearers, may be effective in sustaining cultural traditions even
when safeguarded ICH elements are simultaneously employed for other political and ideological ends.

Therefore, even though the processes of patrimonialisation entail the choice of whose
heritage will be safeguarded via legal regulations and whose heritage will be dominated and
marginalised, and also the choice of various international fora where it is showcased or hidden –
or even negated and excluded – and thus, the decisions on whose voices will be heard and muted;
at the same time, the initiation of this process of selection, through the power of the Convention, gives this voice to the bearers. It is here that lies the emancipatory, liberating element
of the 2003 Convention.

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Remark 7: the 2003 Convention created new fields of power for
the research about the human and culture, especially for cultural
anthropology (ethnology, ethnography, folklore studies).
The importance of studies on culture (cultural diversity of humanity), especially those based
on fieldwork, has undoubtedly become greater on the international arena thanks to the 2003
Convention. It is particularly interesting as the reflection on cultural heritage has been interminably crossing scientific disciplines and various fields of science; in fact, it is considered as an area
that links together various disciplines (Bendix, Eggert, and Peselmann 2013, 11; Logan, Nic Craith,
and Kockel 2016, 2) and that does not give privileges to any of them: whether it is conservation,
architecture, history of art, ethnology, folklore studies, sociology or philosophy, law, economics,
or political studies. However, the potential of cultural anthropology (ethnology, ethnography) on
the level of international heritage regimes can be only fully seen after 2003. For it was the 2003
Convention that created a clearly defined space for the activation and demonstration – in the
areas that had been until then dominated by experts from other disciplines ¬– of anthropological and ethnographic associations, represented, for instance, on the forum of nongovernmental
organisations accredited by the 2003 Convention, which counts 164 organisations at the moment.
These organisations, abiding by the rule of equitable geographical representation, also nominate
6 experts to the 12-person Evaluation Body, which assesses the applications for the Representative List, the Register of Good Practices and the Urgent Safeguarding List. The states parties of
the Convention are also responsible for the nomination of experts in the areas safeguarded by the
Convention when applying for the Intergovernmental Committee (art. 6, p. 7: ‘States Members
of the Committee shall choose as their representatives persons who are qualified in the various
fields of the intangible cultural heritage’).
This extraordinary career of cultural anthropology has been also noticed by the experts writing in
this volume. It is related to both the increase of importance of anthropology and its representatives
on the international, as well as the national level. Thus, the created national solutions, connected
to the almost universal ratification of the Convention, take into account mainly anthropologists
(ethnographers, ethnologists, folklorists) when creating expert teams or evaluating bodies that
assess the national-inventory applications. An Deming, for example, refers to the Chinese experiences and the crucial role played by the China Folklore Society, especially in connection with the
actions that have been undertaken after the ratification of the 2003 Convention. He writes:

Summary

Folklore studies and other related disciplines also celebrate new opportunities. This does not mean the
superficial prosperity … this movement enables scholars to think thoroughly and deeply about the relationship between culture and people’s lives; it enables them to investigate Chinese folklore more deeply and
more comprehensively, with strong support from governmental agencies … Therefore, it makes it possible
to contribute new perspectives and methods based on Chinese experiences, both to the academic domain
and to the campaign of ICH.

Such experience of the special role of anthropologists, ethnographers, folklorists in the system
of safeguarding – a system that also requires supervision, selection, assessment and control
of specific practices and cultural phenomena performed to address its requirements – is also
described by Eszter Csonka-Takács. She describes the network of experts established in Hungary
for a systemic improvement of ICH safeguarding:
The Directorate [of the Skanzen in Szentendre – H.S.] relies on the mediating work of county rapporteurs. The
Skanzen created this professional network based on the institutions of the county museum system to coordinate and facilitate the promotion, the awareness-raising, and to give professional guidance to the communities. By selecting an expert – most commonly an ethnographer – from each county, a group of professionals
has been formed, which helps in mediating information, informing and looking up communities, and preparing
the nomination document. They provide professional advice to interested communities and organise orientation forums with the participation of the Directorate, facilitating contact between the involved parties.

The description of the county rapporteurs’ tasks thus largely overlaps with the activities of most
ICH experts that operate within the states parties to the Convention, pointing out to the great
responsibility that they carry as intermediaries, the so-called cultural brokers (Jacobs, Neyrinck and
van der Zeijden 2014) between local communities and the systems and structures of power.
In this tome, the importance of anthropologists is also mentioned by Filipović, Židov,
and Hrovatin.
The incredible career of anthropology, however, inevitably leads to tensions between the
various roles that the anthropologist has to play: the researcher striving to discover the truth,
the spokesman of his own culture, the representative of a selected occupation or the culture of
an organisation (e.g. an anthropological society), and finally, the trusted delegate of the interests
of a given group. These are all subject to the milieu regulations, which take shape of ethical codes
of conduct created by anthropological associations.
For a long time anthropologists – in response to the post-colonial criticism in their field in the
1970s (Asad 1973) – have made it a matter of honour to give voice to the excluded and margin-

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alised communities. Today, again, through the 2003 Convention, they are forced to trailblaze
the jungle of responsibilities and power relationships, navigating between the interests of their
subjects, those of their own, the interest of their sponsors and finally, the ideals of supporting
the scientific and humanistic aims of anthropology. They have been compelled to react to the
emergence of a new legislative act, which for the first time has related to their knowledge to
such an extent. This causes extreme reactions in most countries, including Poland (Schreiber 2014)
and France. They follow similar patterns, described by Christian Hottin and Sylvie Grenet (2017,
63): spanning from a radical rejection to enthusiastic support, spectated by a wide audience of
more or less sceptical and cautious observers of the situations’ development. It is thus quite visible
that, by entering the legal and ideological framework of the Convention and the international and
local system it had created, anthropologists begin to take on actions that are at some point less
oriented towards research and more in tune with the implementation of cultural policies (of their
own country or those of UNESCO) (Hottin and Grenet 2017).
Anthropology creates a special and unique type of connection between the researcher and the
researched. His role as an expert-researcher of the community nominated for an inscription on
any of the UNESCO lists (nominated by the country) entails duties towards both the researched
community as well as towards the sphere of power that influences this group, which is able to
create and exert legislative acts and specific safeguarding programmes. By entering this intricate
maze of interconnected processes, the researcher himself frequently becomes an object of manipulation. Ewa Nowicka (2006, 150) notices:
Indeed, it is not clear whether the anthropologist is to be a cool observer and analyst that only sometimes
delivers his/her insight when an order is placed, or an active participant of social life, a mediator and advocate of the conflicted parties. In this context, the educational or moralising role of anthropology and anthropologists is also mentioned. Such tasks, if set before the discipline, raise a series of ethical issues, as well
as practical and political doubts which anthropologists are unable to escape, whether they want it or not.
One of the ideological assumptions of anthropology, deriving from its earliest development stages, is the
desire to defend an existing cultural difference, the diversity that becomes a separate value in its own right.

A question remains open whether the anthropologist that navigates through the structures
of heritage regime, local or international, can realistically defend this diversity without having
to compromise (ethically or politically). The 2003 Convention, by opening these areas of power,
undoubtedly leads the entire anthropological milieu into a somewhat intellectual, ethical, and
practical ‘temptation’.

Summary

Remark 8: the 2003 Convention was the first to give voice
and subjectivity to communities, groups, and individuals.
‘Communities are at the heart of the intangible cultural heritage safeguarding system’ – this is yet
another obligatory statement which appears each time the 2003 Convention is quoted (see, for
example, Skounti 2017, in print; Blake 2009, 2017; Duvelle 2014). Indeed, in the text of the Convention itself the term ‘communities’ appears 11 times, whereas the experts are mentioned only twice:
in article 21, point b), which describes international aid in providing experts; and article 6, point 7,
which describes the nomination of persons that possess adequate qualifications in various aspects
of intangible cultural heritage to the Intergovernmental Committee. One can also conduct ‘an
archaeology’ of the institutional presence of the concept of safeguarding individuals, starting from
the 2003 Korea proposal of creating the Living Cultural Properties safeguarding system, and only
later protecting groups and communities, which resulted in the acceptance of the Living Human
Treasures programme (UNESCO 1993), and subsequently evolved into the Masterpieces of the
Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity Programme, whose 90 elements have become incorporated into the system of the 2003 Convention (article 31).
In all the international treaties that have appeared since 2003, whether on the UNESCO or the
Council of Europe forum, its new, grassroots, social, open dimension is profoundly visible on all
levels, including decision-making, creating, maintaining, and safeguarding cultural heritage. The
two most important international conventions adopted after 2003 that protect cultural heritage
are the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural
Expressions and the Council of Europe Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society10
(the so-called Faro Convention). Both of them highlight the significance of social participation
as key to preserving cultural heritage. The Faro Convention goes as far as to introduce, in article
2 b), the term ‘heritage communities’ that consist of ‘people who value specific aspects of cultural
heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future
generations’.
Giving the voice to the communities and individuals has also resulted in noticing other groups,
the so-called passive bearers of cultural practices, who are mentioned by An Deming (in this
volume):
10

Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, Faro, 27 October 2005. Unfortunately, this
Convention is ratified only by 17 out of 47 member states of the Council of Europe. Only 8 member states of the EU ratified it.

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For quite a long time, in accordance with the situation of the academia, the attention of most participants
of the ICH programme has been mainly paid to the active bearers, who are usually very dynamic in the transmission of specific cultural items and have special talents in particular cultural genres. However, when the
concept of community as integration was introduced to the public, together with more and more scrutiny
on the distinction between the ‘active bearers’ and ‘passive bearers’ by some folklorists (Yang et al. 2011,
23–24), it has been gradually accepted that those ordinary people who are not specialists in any cultural
items actually shape the main foundations of the viability and vitality of the concerned traditions. Based
on increasingly more discussions and adequate communication, the concept of ‘everyone is the bearer
of traditional culture’ was subsequently promoted.

The expanding apprehension, together with the increasing importance of the role of ‘bearers’
is also noticed by the researchers from Croatia: ‘We can also observe an increasing recognition
among the public of the exceptional value of intangible cultural heritage, as well as the conviction
that the commitment and responsibility for its safeguarding and transmission to future generations should rest on the bearers, local communities and relevant institutions; local, national,
or minority identities’ (Hrovatin and Šimunković, in this volume).
The importance of bearers is not solely declarative, and for a long time has been the object
of scientific scrutiny (Onciul, Stefano, and Hawke 2017; Adell et al. 2015; Rudolff and Raymond
2013; Kono 2009). All the accepted nomination procedures on the UNESCO level take into consideration the necessary element of their free, prior and informed consent for any actions that affect
them. Reading the consent forms might sometimes yield surprising discoveries (for example,
the fact that sometimes dozens or even hundreds of bearers sign institutionally prepared forms
of consent of inscribing their ICH element on... the World Heritage List, instead of the Representative List), however, it does not change the fact that it is the first time that communities, groups and
individuals cannot be ignored. Their cooperation, joint effort, and also the shared responsibility for
sustaining a given cultural phenomenon is fundamental for the Convention.
However, as observed by An Deming (in this volume), the ambitious goals connected to the
presence of communities, groups and individuals in the system of the Convention cannot be fully
achieved as the project of ICH safeguarding, despite the fact that it came into being based on principles of equality and diversity of cultures, has led to a creation of a new hierarchy of those cultures,
as well as of their elements within: ‘The experts and UNESCO have the privilege to determine what
item is suitable to be inscribed on the Representative List, which in the public mind means a certificate to the more valuable; whereas the actual bearers of a particular cultural item cannot have

Summary

their voice on it’. It is thus necessary to notice that even such a significant change in the language
of legal international acts does not result in a sudden change in the practice of countries, including
implementation processes. An example of such attempt to sustain ‘nation-centrism’ can be the
stretching of the term of ‘community’ in the 2003 Convention in order to include national community, which allows inscribing on the Representative List not only local and regional communities
but also the nation-wide ones. Thus, the revolutionary step which made communities, groups and
individuals the most important subjects in the system of ICH safeguarding has, in the practice of
UNESCO – an organisation made by countries and for the countries – turned out to be crucial, yet
also easy to manipulate, especially in situations in which the Convention does not provide a definition of a community, a group, or an individual. What is more, it also does not provide any guidelines
on the way in which representatives of such groups should be selected, nor the way to distinguish communities from groups. An unanswered question also remains: should the expectations of
benefits of being inscribed on the UNESCO list, expressed by communities, groups and individuals,
be condemned?
Even though these questions still remain largely unanswered, the 2003 Convention and its
various fora, including the ICH NGO Forum, undoubtedly create opportunities to identify and
discuss these problems and to propose practical solutions to them.

Remark 9: the well-thought implementation of the 2003
Convention on the local level is its most powerful advantage,
which may in practice ensure the realisation of the concept
of sustainable development.
The concept of sustainable development, originating in the 1980s, can be certainly called an international success. In the context of UNESCO, its way was paved by adopting the 2013 Hangzhou
Declaration (UNESCO 2013b), which called for an attempt to inscribe culture into the newly drafted
UN development goals for the subsequent 15 years. It needs to be noticed that although culture
did not make it as an independent point on the list of 17 new Sustainable Development Goals,
it appears in many different forms (local culture, cultural diversity, intercultural understanding,
culture of peace) in a number of places on the Agenda (point 8, point 36, and goals 4, 8, 11 and 12).
The importance of heritage is particularly emphasised in goal 11: Making cities and human settle-

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The ICH bearers with Professor Małgorzata Rozbicka and Professor Magdalena Gawin at the II Official Ceremony
of Awarding Diplomas of Inscription into the National ICH List. Ceremony closing the Forum in Sukiennice
(Cloth Hall), Kraków, October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

The audience and ICH bearers gathered at the II Official Ceremony of Awarding Diplomas of Inscription into the
National ICH List. Ceremony closing the Forum in Sukiennice (Cloth Hall), Kraków, October 2016.
Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage Board of Poland.

Summary

ments inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. In the framework of this goal, task 11.4 is formulated: strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage. It is,
however, the only place in the Agenda in which the term ‘heritage’ appears.
Inscribing sustainable development into the heart of the safeguarding system materialised
thanks to the adoption of a separate Chapter VI in the Operational Directives of the Convention on
June 2016, on the session of the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention. The 2003
Convention thus became the first act of international cultural heritage law, which inscribed the
concept of sustainable development into its safeguarding system in a way that was very concrete
and legally binding. Another challenge is ensuring that the concept of intangible cultural heritage
will be considered and implemented in practice during the creation of programmes and strategies
of sustainable development on various levels and by various subjects (Duvelle 2014, 41). For as the
system of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage treats sustainable development with uttermost importance, the same cannot be (or at least not yet) said when considered from the perspective of globally and nationally implemented programmes of sustainable development.
How can we, therefore, practically translate the idea of sustainable development to the scope
of the 2003 Convention? This is what the authors of this publication are considering. They tackle
different topics connected to the concept of sustainable development – so crucial from the
perspective of the Convention and important in the system of intangible heritage safeguarding
(see the text by Timothy Curtis). Adina Hulubaş notices that, in the context of intangible heritage
safeguarding, the sustainable development goal can be realised only if the young generation
together with the older generation are both engaged in the process. It also leads to its balancing
through ensuring that the safeguarding practices are attended by at least two generations. Anita
Vaivade, in turn, states that the core of sustainable development lies in treating phenomena holistically, and ensuring various methods of their safeguarding, including – interestingly – a guarantee
of the right to refuse the participation in these measures, which was inscribed into the Latvian ICH
safeguarding act adopted in 2016 by the Latvian Parliament. This serves to reinforce the basic idea
that it is the community that should independently decide on what is good for them and on the
way of protecting their cultural traditions. In this perspective, sustainable development means
a balance and variety of safeguarding measures and leaving the decision of choosing them to the
communities themselves.
Katarzyna Smyk, in turn, sees the potential to realise the ideals of sustainable development
through the 2003 Convention in its auto-reflective effect on the bearers and in making them

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more conscious about their engagement in safeguarding measures. In this way, the own actions
of communities, groups and individuals (bottom-top), as well as the actions inspired externally
(top-bottom), become balanced and thus – sustainable.
Mirela Hrovatin (this volume), while analysing this issue, also notices that the implementation
of sustainable development in practice is based primarily on engaging the bearers and the entire
local community into each step of planning the development projects. She notices: ‘not all the solutions can be reached for all types of ICH on the theoretical or universal levels. Thus, the more local
and specific approach to ICH, the better’. This perspective is also about sustainability; this time, of
the proposed safeguarding measures, created internationally as theoretical and proposed solutions,
as well as of their practical aspects, adjusted to the local conditions. Eva Románková-Kuminková,
consecutively, writes about the potential and real dangers for sustainable development, which are
connected with the inscription if a given element onto the UNESCO lists and points out to the fact
that considering the expressions of intangible cultural heritage on the heritage lists will not ensure
sustainable development on its own. It is necessary to complement it with conscious actions made
by communities, groups and individuals, among which one can find the decision to refuse to inscribe
one’s practices to the national inventory, not to mention the UNESCO list itself (in this volume).
Therefore, taking into consideration the great variety of the tackled topics relating to sustainable development, we can see that the concept itself has such a wide scope that it becomes incredibly blurred and indistinct; an ideal concept for disputes and deliberations for researchers but
incredibly difficult to explain to the communities in practice and hard to translate into concrete
solutions. In summary of the deliberations on it in this volume, the centre of gravity should be
shifted from the category of ‘development’ to the category of ‘sustainable’. It seems much easier
to operate and practically implement, as well as to establish whether it is realised in practice, which
is pointed out by the authors themselves.

Remark 10: the Convention is the biggest achievement
of the contemporary international cultural heritage law,
and at the same time it leads to its further fragmentation.
In 2003, intangible heritage became incorporated into the previous heritage regimes made for
various dimensions of heritage (cultural, natural, underwater) functioning within UNESCO, and –

Summary

what is important from the perspective of countries participating in the Forum – other regional
organisations, including the Council of Europe (embracing architectural, audiovisual, archaeological heritage – see below).
The multitude of definitions of ‘cultural heritages’ is accompanied by a multitude of legislative
solutions, which results in a fragmentation of both the concept of cultural heritage and of its international safeguarding regimes. The term ‘fragmentation’ was popularised by Martti Koskenniemi
in 2006, in the report for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights that was devoted to
this phenomenon (Koskenniemi 2006).11 It can be understood as the branching out of law into
highly specialised fields (boxes), which claim the right to be relatively mutually autonomous and
independent of the law in general sense (namely, of the general acts and rules of international law)
(Koskenniemi 2006, para. 13). One of such fields is the current international cultural heritage law,
which led to the creation of a specific group of experts in the area of heritage studies, including
international lawyers, who deal specifically with this field.12
The fragmentation of international law also takes place within its respective fields, leading to
a further internal fragmentation. This is the case with the concept of cultural heritage and with
the regimes of its international safeguarding; it is already particularly visible during the analysis
of the legislative acquis of the two organisations that have adopted the largest numbers of international legal regulations devoted to this matter: UNESCO and the Council of Europe.13 In UNESCO
alone, we are dealing with distinct concepts and regimes of underwater heritage (2001 Convention), cultural heritage (1972 Convention), natural heritage (1972 Convention), natural & cultural
heritage (1972 Convention), and intangible heritage (2003 Convention).
If we analyse the field of European regulations, the primary organisation that adopts treaties on
cultural heritage under its auspices is the Council of Europe. Inside its framework, we are dealing
with architectural heritage (1985 Convention),14 archaeological heritage (1992 Convention),15
audiovisual heritage (2001 Convention),16 and the 2005 Faro Convention on the Value of Cultural
11

For the newest publications on this phenomenon, see e.g. Jakubowski and Wierczyńska 2016.

12

Regarding the community of expert lawyers-heritologists, see e.g. Lixinski 2013. See also the creation of the separate
Committee on Cultural Heritage Law in the framework of the International Law Association, directed by Prof. James Nafziger.

13

Thus excluding from analysis the dissipated regulations that regulate access to cultural heritage and the possibility to care for
it within the framework of human rights protection, for example the Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948, or the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights from 1966. See more in: Schreiber and Budziszewska 2015.

14

Dziennik Ustaw 2012 item 210.

15

Dziennik Ustaw 1996 no. 120 item 564.

16

Not ratified yet.

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Heritage for Society.17 In practice, both organisations cooperate with each other in this field only
on a very limited scale. They in fact copy, create similar solutions or altogether ignore the efforts
and reflections made in this field by the other organisation (vide: the works on the Delphi convention performed by the Council of Europe).
These constructed definitions of ‘heritages’ subsequently grow into having their own institutions, procedures and criteria, even within the same organisations that rarely ‘communicate’18 with
each other. This situation results in splintering into fractions: communities, groups and individuals; experts, government and non-government institutions. Thus, we have experts: (art) historians, conservators, archaeologists, (landscape) architects, ethnographers, linguists, and others,
who take care of their own respective fields, protecting them against the intruders from other
‘regimes’ and organisations, thus literally and metaphorically ‘guarding’ their cultural heritages
(this phenomenon is referred to as the expertisation of cultural heritage; see Lixinski 2013). Therefore, even though cultural heritage is officially regarded as inseparable and in need of an integrated or holistic approach19 – and as one that should not be separated into tangible and intangible
– the existing separate legal solutions and distinct institutions, in fact, contribute to sustaining
the prevalence of sectors. This leads to a situation, in which – as in an endless loop – the legal,
organisational, and expert fragmentation is still supported, both on the local, national and on the
international level. An important aspect of this process is the continuous professionalisation of the
discussion and of the formulation of solutions in respective fields, which in turn results in the creation of conditions that sustain the prevalence of specific ‘regimes’. This term has been a subject
of in-depth scrutiny of Regina F. Bendix, Aditya Eggert and Arnika Peselmann (2013).
These authors indicate that they use this term in the way it was defined in the theory of international regulation (Bendix, Eggert, and Peselmann 2013, 12–13), in which ‘international regime’
(the 2003 Convention should be treated as such) pertains to the norms and regulations that have
been negotiated between the actors on the international level (here: in the form of regulations
and norms written down in the 2003 Convention). Such regime leads to the emergence of new

17

Not ratified yet.

18

Exceptions include the recent cooperation between teams of experts, for example the 1954 Convention, the 1970 Convention,
and the 1972 Convention related to the identification of threats to cultural heritage in the Middle East and North Africa.
Although the UNESCO Cultural Conventions Liaison Group was founded in 2012, which was comprised of the secretaries of
the respective conventions, the activity of this group does not result in the actual tightening of the cooperation between
these conventions.

19

See e.g. European Commission 2014; Human Rights Council 2015, para. 8.

Summary

institutions (e.g. the organs of the Convention), whose task is to make decisions and generate
rules, also in response to new issues (here: for example, the issue of sustainable development and
its regulation through accepting the new Chapter VI into the Operational Directives).
Another practical, almost mundane problem connected to the fragmentation of the safeguarding of cultural heritage and to the presence of many different regimes is also the growing
financial problem on the level of international organisations which have to manage the increasing
number of conventions and the growing number of member states.
The report presented in UNESCO in 2013 directly highlighted the fact that ‘while the work
of the convention secretariats has increased over the years, the financial resources of the secretariats have not been in tandem with the workload’ (UNESCO 2013a, 7).
In order to approach this problem, the Cultural Conventions Liaison Group (CCLG) was formed
in 2012, comprising of secretaries of respective conventions and senior management of the Culture
sector. Its task was to foster coordination and efficiencies among the convention secretariats,
which, after all, share similar problems and challenges. However, the opinion about the effectiveness of this Group’s actions is rather moderately optimistic, and even sceptical (Duvelle 2017, in
print), and if there are no radical, diametrically different steps, the process of fragmentation will
deepen further. And even though countries, as well as international organisations, might be interested in sustaining this fragmentation status quo, it leads to many difficulties from the perspective of the coherence of the safeguarding actions – and their administrative realisation. Solving the
existing contradictions thus seems to be beyond the capabilities of states. The largest potential and
possibility of stopping or even reversing the process of fragmentation lies therefore in a vision and
a specific programme, which can be presented by an international organisation and in obtaining the
support for it by states that in fact are its part. This scenario, however, seems implausible.

Conclusions
The 2003 Convention, by placing communities, groups and individuals in the centre of attention
has at the same time made central the question of the ethics of conduct in issues related to the
human and his cultural identity. These ethics are situated – in many cases – on the pole that is opposite to politics. The 2003 Convention, as every instrument of international law which is ratified
by countries, gathers the representatives of these countries and constitutes a platform of their

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10th Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the 2003 UNESCO Convention through the Prism of Sustainable Development

interests, has a political character, however, it is the attempts to break the rules of its functioning
in a political-free space that are the most significant threat to it. The system of checks and balances
that is forming before our eyes after 10 years of its functioning, which entails the cooperation of
the bearers of heritage (communities, groups and individuals), delegates of countries (also with
the participation of the Convention Secretariat), and the representatives of the scientific world
(experts), requires constant concern to keep them in the right balance. The pessimistic, however
realistic assessment of this challenge suggests that the ‘implementation optimism’ stemming from
the nearly universal ratification of the 2003 Convention, together with the pressure of countries to
be ‘on’ the lists, will never free the Convention entirely from politics and the attempts to increase
the role of states at the cost of the other two elements of this system. At the same time, a realistic assessment of this situation can yield solutions (procedures) which will allow to practically
strengthen the role of bearers themselves, which will in turn highlight the importance of ethical
principles encompassing their heritage and ultimately make the criteria of evaluation of the
inscription on the lists as well as those of the Convention itself more objective, thus reducing –
however not entirely eliminating – the processes that lead to it politicisation. Thus, a creation of
a functioning system of checks and balances is possible, however, it will require efforts of all sides
of this convective ‘three-partite division of power’, including bearers (communities, groups and
individuals), representatives of states, and experts. The concessions made by the strong for the
weak in this present system might perhaps be the biggest challenge in the subsequent 10 years
of the functioning of the 2003 Convention. It is they, however, that might constitute the crucial
difference distinguishing it from other acts of international cultural heritage law and ultimately
lead to a situation in which the widely-known statement of its ‘revolutionary’ character fully ‘enters
into force’.
***
The texts gathered in this volume allowed to extract key issues that characterise the underlying
assumptions, the philosophy of safeguarding, and the practical applications of the 2003 Convention.
The 10 remarks presented above definitely do not exhaust what can be and needs to be said about
it. Fortunately, the proliferation of research and the rapid increase in awareness related to the 2003
Convention among states, together with the growing engagement of ICH bearers into its identification, transmission and development raises hope that in the next 10 years the issues analysed here

Summary

will have at least partially changed their shape and character for the better, and the most burning
problems will have been at least partially solved. It certainly should be wished to the 2003 Convention itself, to the states parties, and to its ‘guardian’ – UNESCO, but most of all, it should be wished to
those to which it owes its existence: the bearers of intangible cultural heritage.

The research on the subjects gathered in this article has been funded from the young scientists grant (2016), awarded by the
Faculty of Political Science and International Studies of the University of Warsaw. The author would like to thank dr. Andrzej
Jakubowski for his helpful comments on the first version of this text.

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Acknowledgements

Summary

Publication of a book that contains nearly 40 papers representing the experiences in the implementation of the 2003 Convention of the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage
in 17 countries, in two language versions: Polish and English, in both digital and paper form,
is a great challenge.
Facing this challenge would not be possible without the kindness, devotion, and cooperation
of many people, whose work was only brought together and bound by the editor.
This publication is the aftermath of the first major international endeavour in Poland devoted to
intangible cultural heritage: The First China – Central and Eastern European Countries Expert-Level
Forum on Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, organised in October 2016 in Kraków.
It was realised by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the Polish Heritage
Board, which cooperated on the substantive issues with the Ministry of Culture of the People’s
Republic of China.
The book that the reader is holding is a robust and essential element of this meeting and allows
to return to the important discussions and themes related to the safeguarding of intangible cultural
heritage, which were raised during the debates in the International Cultural Centre in Kraków.
Therefore, I would like to thank Prof. Magdalena Gawin, Vice Minister of Culture and National
Heritage and General Monument Conservator, and Prof. Małgorzata Rozbicka, the Director
of the National Heritage Board of Poland. Without their support, this book could not have been
published.

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The participants of the Forum in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, October 2016. Photo by Paweł Kobek, © National Heritage
Board of Poland.

Summary

Thanks to this publication, the voice of the experts invited to Poland can reach a significantly
wider audience and join the lively discussion that is currently shaping the cultural heritage safeguarding system in all 17 countries.
The experts that came to Poland made the atmosphere of the Forum not only subject-oriented
but also very kind, and the contacts that were made are still kept alive today and certainly will find
a continuation in future endeavours, perhaps even joint applications for entries of the common
regional and trans-national intangible cultural heritage on the UNESCO lists. The kind and patient
cooperation of all the experts – authors of the texts for this publication – was the key factor to its
creation. I would like to thank them with all my heart!
I would also like to give my sincere thanks to Professor Andrzej Rottermund, who reviewed such
a big volume. His remarks allowed us to notice new issues, important not only from the perspective
of the book but from the entire system of safeguarding itself.
Such ventures also have their ‘silent heroes’ – hidden behind the authors’ names. I would like
to express my greatest gratitude and appreciation to the language editor Tomasz Wiśniewski, who
has proofread and corrected the final edition of the English version of the book. Equal appreciation and gratitude go to the editor of the Polish language version, Aleksandra Zych, who has also
performed the mechanical editing of all the texts. Without the two of you, the book would not
take the shape that we had all dreamed about. The formal side of the publication process was
overseen with patience and understanding by Katarzyna Sadowska-Mazur, the head of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Unit at the National Heritage Board of Poland. Without her help in the key
moments, we would not have achieved it all. I would also like to thank Magda Piotrowska-Kloc
(Printomato) for the professional typesetting and preparation of the book for print.
I sincerely hope that this work will become the point of reference to further actions and projects
of safeguarding intangible heritage in the 17 states – parties to this crucial UNESCO Convention
– and that it will allow us to build a better, more inclusive and balanced system of safeguarding
intangible heritage in our countries.
Hanna Schreiber
July 2017

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Cytat

Schreiber, Hanna (ed.), “Intangible cultural heritage: safeguarding Experiences in Central and Eastern European Countries and China. Part 2,” Cyfrowa Etnografia, Dostęp 4 grudnia 2022, https://cyfrowaetnografia.pl/items/show/6239.

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