EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W039)

Selling tradition by the pound: intangibile cultural heritage and the marketing of localities

Location Arts Classhall D
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Cristina Grasseni (Utrecht University) email
Letizia Bindi (Università degli Studi del Molise) email
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Long Abstract

The notion of "immaterial patrimony" needs a critical review. The "re-evaluation" of landscapes, foodstuffs and traditions as "heritage" combine cultural, commercial and political strategies.

Both developing areas and regions struggling with industrial stagnation have invested on tourism, typical products and all things "traditional". Localities express entrepreneurship - whether under institutional pressure by local élites, or by democratic participation. Economic considerations weigh heavily on the dissemination of cultural events or the choice of conservation projects, whilst re-invented ceremonial practices and local foods are interpreted as icons of local identity.

In times of crisis, the relationship between local communities, cultural activisms and institutional promotion can be read imaginatively, especially within a comparative view that goes beyond parochial dynamics. But the ambivalent relationship between "folklore and profit" was an object of anthropological critique since the Seventies. Today, new ethnographic evidence and critical reflection are needed to assess the commodification of cultures and territories.

Discussant: James Carrier

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Think local - act global: employing global heritage discourses for local ends

Author: Karin Klenke (University of Goettingen)  email
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Long Abstract

World Heritage as stated by UNESCO must have an outstanding universal value. Nominated places, however, also have a multitude of local values and meanings, which are very often conflicting and contested. In Toraja society, which has a history of fierce inter-village competition and status rivalry among noble headmen, the nomination of several sites as Cultural Landscape is thus a culturally, politically and economically highly charged process. Local actors have well understood that the label of World Heritage is a powerful resource in this competitive society, as a certified outstanding universal value 'to all humanity' for your village is hard to beat. The local government hopes for a revival of tourism and aims at making culture marketable. This paper explores the strategic employment of global heritage discourses on the local level as well as the political and economic dynamics and transformation of values and meanings.

Meanings of culture and heritage in Essaouira, Morocco

Author: Raquel Carvalheira (CRIA)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper debates the meanings attributed to "cultural heritage" in the small city of Essaouira in Morocco's Atlantic coast. The city presents itself to visitors as "cultural and artistic", "charming and well tempered" thus attracting tourists from all over the country and abroad. Its recounted history is that of a city that prospered economically during the period of the European Expansion but that experienced long periods of decay over the past century. The launching of the Gnawa music festival, the investment in the production of argan oil, the renewal of the Portuguese and French military structures and the consequent attribution of UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2001, were part of a plan for the strategic revitalization of Essaouira which engaged local associations as well as national and international organizations. Using ethnographic data, the paper will discuss how different entities produce diverse meanings out of the shared notions of culture and heritage, by relation to economic and political processes of wider global reach.

Capoeira: from an illegal and marginalized social practice to Brazilian immaterial cultural heritage

Author: Theodora Lefkaditou (University of Barcelona)  email
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Long Abstract

Drawing on fieldwork research in Salvador da Bahia, the paper discusses the implication of tourism, transnationalism and state's policies in the everyday life of afrobrazilian capoeira teachers. Once a marginal and illegal activity, today capoeira is perceived as a valuable cultural product to be exported, symbol of the city of Salvador and since 2008, Brazilian immaterial heritage.

The paper explores the conflicts that arise as capoeira practitioners struggle to assert control over their social practices, negotiate the cultural and social meanings attributed to capoeira, and strategically appropriate it as a means of empowerment. Who has the legitimate right to define whether the performative art is Brazilian, afrobrazilian, or has no race or ethnicity? Is it the state, the local or international community that will decide who can or cannot be a capoeira teacher? Is it a local symbol, a national one or the basis on which transnational capoeira communities are structured?

Imagining the nation in the New Zealand Centennial Exhibition

Author: Andreia Sarabando (University of Minho)  email
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Long Abstract

The 1940 New Zealand Centennial Exhibition was both an attempt to celebrate a hundred years of white settlement and an indication of how official New Zealand wanted its image projected. The hugely successful attendance (2.6 million when the country's population was 1.6 million) has been partly attributed to a need for some form of morale boosting, along with a reaffirmation of the validity of New Zealand's national project. Nevertheless, the event evinced a strikingly nostalgic register, exposing uneasy relationships with "the Motherland" as with the nation's Maori inheritance. This paper will address the continuities between the Centennial exhibition and the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, where New Zealand had little control over its depiction, by reading the objects on display in both exhibitions as modes of national presentation and representation. The argument will privilege theories of commoditization in a context of moral, rather than market, economies.

Stirring the pot in Poland: traditional plum jam and development in the Lower Vistula Valley

Author: Olivia Hall (Cornell University)  email
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Long Abstract

In Poland, rural development efforts by local, EU-funded groups often focus on traditional and regional food products as a means for providing additional income to households and enhancing a region's profile. This ethnographic case study explores the revival of the tradition of cooking plum jam (powidła śliwkowe) in the Lower Vistula Valley in north-central Poland as a focal point for creating a new regional identity and brand. In the process, however, fissures become evident in the social fabric as producers follow diverse motivations and conflicts erupt over the future of rural development in the region.

Selling freedom in post-socialist Poland

Author: Jaro Stacul (Memorial University of Newfoundland)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper addresses the issue of how Poland's accession to the European Union in 2004 is reflected in the re-evaluation of landscape and 'heritage' in different locales. Drawing on research conducted in the city of Gdańsk, the birthplace of the workers' movement (Solidarity) that questioned the legitimacy of the Socialist government in the 1980s, the paper examines the discourses surrounding the proposed redevelopment of the shipyard that was Solidarity's cradle. It shows that while the redevelopment seeks to buttress notions of Gdańsk as the cradle of a revolution that brought freedom to other Socialist countries, it also involves turning the shipyard into a location for the consumption of national history and for the commercialization of 'freedom'. The paper suggests that while the project serves to cast Gdańsk as a 'European city of freedom', it also produces a new 'landscape of power' from which a politics that is class-based is removed.

Intangible heritage between maintenance and profit

Author: Natalja Salnikova (Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg)  email
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Long Abstract

The National Agency for the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) was established within the Austrian Commission for UNESCO on 1 January 2006. It campaigns actively to raise awareness and secure established measures implemented already. In spring 2009 the Austrian Parliament unanimously decided to join the Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH. On 10 March 2010 the Austrian Expert Advisory Committee submitted the first elements to be added to the National List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Among those submissions: The traditional healing knowledge of the Pinzgau region and pharmacies' homemade specialities. The question concerning the commercial use of "intangible heritage" on their label will come up in the course of this presentation. The predicate "intangible heritage" often carries characteristics like "high quality" and "traditional work". Hence these elements have to be critically reviewed. However, in a time of globalisation such an in-depth treatment has a huge potential that needs to be exploited.

Crafting the local: collective trademark and tradition in Valenza, Italy

Author: Michele Filippo Fontefrancesco (Università di Scienze Gastronomiche)  email
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Long Abstract

What is local? What is traditional?

To answer to these questions, the paper explores the definition of the "local authenticity" that was at the basis of the institution of the collective trademark "Divalenza". Following the example of the Protected Geographical Status trademarks, Divalenza was created to "defend" and increase the value of the jewellery production of the district of Valenza, Italy, after that the recession of the international jewellery market strongly undermined the economy of the city in the last decade.

Faced with such varied production carried out in the district, the committee needed to define the characteristics of the "typical" manufacture, style and qualities of Valenza's jewellery. Moreover, it also had to define the criteria by which they would allocate producers the right to use their trademark. Finally, the Divalenza example demonstrates clearly how "traditions" are arbitrarily selected and how their construction is fuelled by political debates occurring at the local and national level.

La 'producion de localité' en Sardaigne

Author: Franco Lai (University of Sassari)  email
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Long Abstract

Avec mon paper je voudrais montrer que la politique de développement de la UE a donné lieu à des formes de "production de localité". En effet la UE, par exemple avec le projet Leader, a financé les compétences productives régionaux soit pour le marché intérieur soit pour le marché international et touristique.

Aussi en Sardaigne, comme en autres régions européennes, le tourisme représente le secteur de l'économie plus intéressant pour le développement durable, sourtout pour les paysages, les témoignages historiques, les traditions folkoriques et les productions gastronomiques et de l'artisanat.

Je voudrais montrer la formation de la "production de localité" dans une nouvelle province de la Sardaigne, ou le discourse politique vise à "valoriser" le paysage, le "patrimoine" culturel et les produits alimentaires. Le discourse sur l'"identité" micro-régional confére des caractéristiques culturelles spécifiques aux merchandises. Donc nous pouvons voire cette production de la "marchandise culturel" en rapport au marché touristique.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.