Understanding Intangible Cultural Heritage

Following the adoption of UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003, debate continues around the notion of intangible heritage, taken to include oral traditions, expressive culture, social practices, and forms of knowledge carried/transmitted within cultural communities.

selection of traditional taiwanese food including dumplings and soup

Current political and policy discourses surrounding intangible cultural heritage suggests that it is something more substantive than just another category of heritage. The concept raises significant issues about: the relationships that communities share with both the non-material and the material world; the role of intangible heritage in defining collective memory and notions of ‘living tradition’; how and where do you display the intangible; notions of ownership and social and political identities at national, regional and sub-regional levels and; the lives of those communities that manage and maintain intangible heritage.