"regenerated during the very process of being shared"
September 15, 2020 4:25 PM   Subscribe

Intangible Cultural Heritage is a UNESCO program initiated in 2001 to recognise and protect various cultures and practices that, unlike items on the UNESCO World Heritage List, cannot be touched. This content is parseable in many ways: a list of places you might want to travel, a somewhat dizzying data visualization, a peek into their backlog, living heritage among indigenous peoples, or those that are threatened by the aging of their practitioners. posted by jessamyn (6 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Half of the island where I live became a country ten years ago and recently completed their first ICH inventory. It is such a broad range of things: language, games, arts, skills, beliefs. Sadly, he inventory can only hint at what it all is. Also, the people with most of that knowledge are a dwindling group at high risk during this pandemic.
posted by snofoam at 5:48 PM on September 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

One thing I find curious is that this doesn't seem to include any English speaking countries, and many other wealthy countries with rich cultural heritage are underrepresented - even Russia only has two entries. Which makes me curious - what's the mission statement? It's not as though England is missing a rich, multi-thousand-year heritage, and it's not like the US, Canada, or Australia don't have a wide variety of indigenous traditions that are threatened.

(I'm not saying that I think there's a bias or even an issue with this, but I was curious which indigenous traditions in the US are comparable to the entries on this list because it's a lot easier for me to experience those, which I think is the intent of this list!)
posted by LSK at 6:40 PM on September 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

The 24 Solar terms are actually a pretty hot thing in China! My wife wrote a STEM course for K level kids last year centred around it, and there are many other Kindergarten programs that take it as inspiration. So my guess is this little bit of cultural ephemera is not going extinct any time soon.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:29 PM on September 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

LSK the Criteria are buried inside the documents on this page and they may have changed over time but I pulled this particular bit out
In its selection and promotion of safeguarding programmes, projects and activities, the Committee shall pay special attention to the needs of developing countries and to the principle of equitable geographic distribution, while strengthening South-South and North-South-South cooperation.
I think the real idea is in countries where they don't have governments with their own cultural protection/heritage programs. This is just a guess, I do not have conclusions based on what I was looking at though I did note the absence of Canada and the US (though plenty of entries for Mexico) So it's really less of a mission statement and more that there's a giant international governing body (who just met last week, in person!). The makeup of the Committee that does this work seems to be particularly geared towards international diversity.
posted by jessamyn at 8:41 PM on September 15, 2020

Perhaps it is that these English-speaking countries chose not to participate?

If I look at Mexico, for example, I see this list under Membership & Participation.
Mexico does have a highly active cultural protection program.

Here's the equivalent for the UK.
posted by vacapinta at 1:19 AM on September 16, 2020

My understanding is that countries have to submit requests to be inscribed, so it requires a certain degree of motivation on the part of the country. Some countries consider inscription a matter of national prestige; others are less bothered. Inscription on one of the lists can also unlock funds for safeguarding which may be of greater interest to poorer countries.
posted by tavegyl at 3:48 AM on September 16, 2020

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