Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on ICH and Natural Disasters to be Held in Sendai, Japan

Damage caused by cyclone in Vanuatu (March 2015) ⓒ IRCI

The Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on Intangible Cultural Heritage and Natural Disasters will be held from 7 to 9 December 2018 at Sendai International Center in Japan, where participants will discuss issues and recent developments related to ICH and natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region.

Co-hosted by the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI), the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and the Center for Northeast Asian Studies of Tohoku University, the workshop is aimed to collect information and identify recent research developments related to the safeguarding of ICH in emergencies, one of the subjects of interest of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

From 2016 to 2017, IRCI conducted a the Preliminary Research on ICH Safeguarding and Disaster Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific Region project. The project examined the effect of natural disasters on ICH and the roles of ICH for community disaster risk reduction. The lessons learned from various project cases studies will be shared at the workshop.

The workshop participants will discuss practical measures for safeguarding ICH in disaster areas and possible strategies for mobilizing ICH for disaster risk reduction. An excursion is also being prepared to allow participants to experience the shishifuri folk performance of the Takenoura Community in Miyagi Prefecture, which has been recovering from the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

IRCI said, “Some disaster risk reduction programs try to incorporate such local knowledge; however, much knowledge is disappearing as a whole in a contemporary global context. Limited commitment of ICH researchers to the disaster risk management at all levels including policies and community practices is also a factor minimizing the development of active discussions concerning ICH in relation to natural hazards and disasters.” IRCI added that the upcoming workshop will hopefully help “enhance research and safeguarding programs specifically focused on ICH in the context of natural hazards and disasters.”