Konwencja UNESCO w sprawie ochrony niematerialnego dziedzictwa kulturowego: archeologia pojęć
Convention on Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage: an archaeology of notions
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The Convention on Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage arises from the need of including in the discourse on heritage the non–western ways of living the past. We could say that if the Convention from 1972 was aimed at realizing the UNESCO political agenda on the ground of the Western modern utopian project of universalism, the Convention of 2003 puts in motion the post-modern utopia of relativism, yet without renouncing the modern tools with which to realize it. According to the 2003 Convention, it is the multiplicity of value systems, and the heritage as their expressions put in the inventory, that become the assets of humanity construed as a community (UNESCO’s political objective). The multicultural character of heritage affirmed in the Convention from 2003 has an emancipatory meaning: the subaltern, peripheral value systems are given, at least in theory, the same position as the so far dominating value system of the colonizers. In a decentralized world Europe becomes a province in the same way as the rest of the world, and the Indian, Japanese or Australian perspective is equally valid as the European of American. However, the Convention on Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage, which is supposed to enhance the status of phenomena not included in the 1972 Convention, located outside the authorized heritage discourse, requires different safeguarding strategies. First, as it is a human activity that gets protection, and not at all, or to the less extend the material result of this activity, what is not valid here is the safeguarding by conservation, which is the basic strategy in the case of the objects inscribed in the World Heritage List. The crucial strategy in safeguarding of intangible heritage is education which includes the skills and rules into intergenerational transmission. The institutions and persons involved in safeguarding of intangible heritage are first and foremost required to provide suitable conditions for the future development of a cultural practice declared heritage. What is safeguarded are the living cultural traditions, and not their historical reconstructions. The safeguarding based on education can also result in broadening the group of depositaries of a practice which will become being practiced outside of its community of origin. On the other hand, a living practice will evolve and change, and of crucial importance is then the continuity of traditional system of intergenerational transmission. The article addresses several questions related to implementation of the 2003 Convention in Polish cultural context. Some heritage–related notions involved in discursive practices within the field of humanities and social sciences in Polish academic tradition are discussed, and history–related production of hierarchies within the field in Polish academia pointed at in the context of the heritage of local subalterns (peasants) and minorities. The social impact of these practices is exposed, as they have influenced both the translation of international documents and their reception, as well as the safeguarding practices. The local developments are contextualized within the international conservation and heritage studies discourse.
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