2018 ICOMOS Annual General Assembly and Meeting of ICH Experts in Buenos Aires

2018 ICOMOS Annual General Assembly at Buenos Aires © ICOMOS Argentina

From 3 to 8 December 2018, the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) had its Annual General Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for this year. This meeting is part of a three-year cycle of formal discussions leading to the next General Assembly to be held in Sydney, Australia, in 2020.

Members of the International Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICICH) met on 4 December at the Museum of Architecture and Design, MARQ. The International Scientific Committee discussed the activities of various ICH committees in ICOMOS. Chaired by Marilyn Truscott, Secretary-General of the ICICH Bureau, two current initiatives were also discussed in greater detail. The first initiative was the Culture-Nature Journey, which aims to relink the conversation of cultural and natural heritage as one space, place, and landscape. Led by ICOMOS and IUCN, both advisory bodies to the World Heritage Convention, several meetings and knowledge cafes were organized in 2018 in Fiji, India, Singapore, and USA to discuss stronger connections between the practice of cultural and natural heritage practitioners. Intangible heritage practitioners also acknowledged the direct role of the scientific committee in making this connection stronger.

The second initiative discussed by the committee was about fostering stronger links between new heritage professionals with more established professionals in ICOMOS. As an Associate Member of ICICH representing ICOMOS Philippines, I highlighted opportunities for capacity building within the committee to provide continuity and knowledge exchange among various generations of intangible heritage practitioners. This initiative provides an avenue to discuss ICOMOS’s goal to maintain its relevance for future generations. Current discussions also recognize that intergenerational engagement is important to ensure the continuity of the heritage organization in the future.

At the latter part of the meeting, a mini-colloquium was held with the theme of “Sustaining Memory and Meaning at Place: Continuity of Community Identity,” which focused on retaining and maintaining intangible cultural heritage in rapidly changing urban areas of Latin America where both development and globalization are common. Angel Cabeza, former ICICH Vice President from ICOMOS Chile, and Graciela Mota, President of ICOMOS Mexico, presented case studies from their countries. Mr. Cabeza’s presentation was entitled, “Human Rights Heritage Sites in Chile: The Challenges to Retain their Values and Memories through Change of Generations and the Destruction of Sites,” which investigated the actions performed in the urban fabric of Chile to erase evidence of crimes and destruction of places of torture and killings during the time of military dictatorship. Ms. Mota, on the other hand, presented a study entitled “Continuing Cultures in Changing Cities and Communities,” which looked into the various layers of history and cultural meaning of Tlatelolco Square in Mexico City that has witnessed various tragic events throughout its history from pre-Hispanic conquest to the violence espoused by the authoritarian rule in 1968. Both case studies explained how memory of places are constantly being transformed and consumed to become part of an acceptable and sometimes commercially viable heritage product in urban areas. Such issues of memory can also be seen in Asian cities like the Tiananmen Square in Beijing and in EDSA Shrine in Manila.

Among its many objectives, the ICICH promotes international cooperation in the identification, study, and solution of issues related to the ethical identification, protection, interpretation, and management of the intangible cultural associations attributed to monuments and sites. It also advises ICOMOS on any role it may have in the implementation of, or other activities associated with UNESCO’s International Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage. For more information on the work of ICICH, please check their website at: http://icich.icomos.org/