ICH Inventorying for and by Communities

Harriet Deacon and Richenel Ansano, workshop facilitators © ICHCAP

The UNESCO Capacity-Building Workshop on Community-Based ICH Inventorying was held from 23 to 27 July 2018. Co-hosted by ICHCAP and the International Training Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia‐Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (CRIHAP), the workshop offered twenty-six participants, including ICH experts, researchers, and practitioners in Korea, a chance to learn about community-based ICH inventorying. The workshop sessions were facilitated by Harriet Deacon, visiting fellow at Coventry University (UK), and Richenel Ansano, Director of the National Archaeological and Anthropological Memory Management Institute (Curacao). During the sessions, Korean and Chinese experts delivered presentations on topics related to inventorying projects and challenges in Korea and China; Korea’s comprehensive study on ICH; identifying elements by a certified trainee of Arirang; and a field trip. The participants were encouraged to be involved in the activities so they could put what had learned into practice.

The opening ceremony was honored by ICHCAP Director-General Kwon Huh, CRIHAP Deputy Director‐General Zhang Jing, Director General Gye‐sik Kim of the Heritage Promotion Bureau of the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, Director‐General Hyun‐Jung Cho of the National Intangible Heritage Center, and Vice President Wang Fuzhou of the Chinese National Academy of Arts. Sessions then followed with an introduction of the workshop, inventorying in the context of the Convention, and a group case study, allowing participants to share their opinions from a broad perspective.

On the second day, the participants took a multi-faceted approach to inventorying by comparing national inventorying systems to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each system and sharing thoughts on what ‘community-based’ inventorying might mean. There was, in particular, a presentation on a 2018 comprehensive study on ICH and its procedures and information collection methods. The participants exchanged ideas on the issue concerning information collection agreements, further expanding the discussion. In the last session on the third day, the participants had a group discussion to prepare for the field trip. Each group decided on an information collection approach for the field trip and discussed details, such as a list of questions and methods. Based on the results, the participants visited Hansan Mosi Museum in Seocheon-gun the next day. They interviewed and shot footage of various stakeholders, including Yeon-ok Bang and other ICH bearers, concerned officials, and cultural heritage commentators, to have a firsthand experience on inventory making. They also had a chance to see how ICH was being transmitted. On the last day of the workshop, the participants examined inventorying in the context of the implementation of the 2003 Convention. Specifically, they discussed inventorying as a means of inscription, advantages and disadvantages of inscription, and follow-up management of inscribed elements.

The workshop was concluded with the participants agreeing that a ‘community’ is not a fixed term but is rather continually evolving and that inventorying is not simply about documentation. They also agreed that the goal of inventorying is to safeguard ICH and that inventorying should positively affect the process of safeguarding and transmission. The participants are expected to apply the knowledge and experience they obtained from the workshop to take an active role in ICH safeguarding activities. ICHCAP plans to host another round of the capacity-building workshop next year as part of its continuous efforts to build capacities of ICH stakeholders in Korea.