The tangible and intangible: dance and the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage
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AbstractThis article returns to issues raised in the pages of Dance Research regarding UNESCO’s 2003 adoption of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Bakka and Karoblis’ article published in 2021 refuted the proposal made by Iacono and Brown in 2016 to replace the Convention’s term ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ (ICH) with the concept of ‘living cultural heritage’. I examine both articles to propose how the discourses surrounding safeguarding ICH and those that consider dance as a significant part of culture might inform one another. The discussion draws on findings from a project led by Dr. Violet Cuffy, a Creole specialist in the field of tourism, that drew together researchers, policy makers and practitioners to explore approaches to safeguarding Creole Intangible Cultural Heritage. These highlighted what Bakka and Karoblis emphasise as the importance of UNESCO’s aims to counterbalance cultural and economic inequalities, the impact of which threaten the sustainability of many older traditions, particularly in what they refer to as the ‘global south’. However, by drawing on my experiences as a dancer and dance teacher, born and educated in the UK, I suggest that, even in this economically privileged part of the globe, the cultural significance of dancing is all too often undervalued and significant dance practices are vulnerable to being irretrievably lost. I argue that for both dance and ICH a continued (dualist) privileging of mind over body informs a powerful episteme which shapes the language and implementation of the policies intended to sustain them. In response, I emphasise the importance of those strategies that support the activities and interactions which facilitate the continuation of practices and which recognise the necessity of those debates that interrogate the changes in those practices.
CitationCarr, Jane (2023) 'The tangible and intangible: dance and the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage', Dance Research, 41 (1), pp. 66-78.
SponsorsAn outcome of AGRC funded project
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