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Documenting the UNESCO feast

Stories of women’s ‘empowerment’ and programmatic cooking

Raúl Matta

Heritage politics can transform a dish, a cuisine or a meal into the emblem of a nation, a region or a community. A cultural and economic driver, culinary heritage has revealed the opportunities that actors can draw out of cultural essentialism, and the commercial exploitation that this can lead to. However, we know less about the consequences culinary heritage has in the lives of local communities and individuals concerned with it, in particular the most humble or vulnerable, nor the resulting modes of action – whether adoption, appropriation, rejection or indifference – it might provoke within and among these populations. This ethnographic study redresses this imbalance by giving voice to one of the symbols of current food politics in Mexico: indigenous female cooks. Their narratives evidence how practices of heritage deploy (food) cultures – and the people related to them – in programmatic, coercive fashions by building on notions and concepts of prospection, empowerment and audit culture. In villages, culinary heritage not only catalyses contradictions and tensions among women, which manifest in feelings of envy and injustice and decreased social cohesion; it also prompts changed opportunities that lead to resistance, new sociabilities and cooperation.

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Transacting UNESCO World Heritage

Gifts and exchanges on a global stage

Lynn Meskell

With the burgeoning research into global heritage, particularly in the work of UNESCO, this paper discusses recent developments and implications of decisions taken by the World Heritage Committee in their implementation of the 1972 Convention. While the World Heritage programme is experiencing a fiscal crisis, significant challenges also stem from sovereign states, non‐governmental agencies and other actors. This paper argues that World Heritage decision‐making processes have transformed the inscription of sites into exchange values that mobilise ancillary effects in other domains driven by economic and political imperatives. The transactional nature of World Heritage is traced across three scales: the World Heritage process itself, the properties and the participants.

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‘Nothing Is Less Universal than the Idea of Race’

Alfred Métraux, American Social Science and UNESCO's Anti-Racist Campaign in 1950s Paris

Alice L. Conklin

accept a position at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as head of a new bureau on race relations, and he was wondering what books to buy to help him in his new job. Hardly an expert on race matters himself

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Food incursions into global heritage

Peruvian cuisine's slippery road to UNESCO

Raúl Matta

This article provides critical engagement with cultural heritage‐making processes conducted by stakeholders and interest groups within the UNESCO's intangible heritage paradigm. By tracking the road of Peru's cuisine to the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (the ICH List) and focusing on the turning points during food's shift from culinary to heritage status, the aim is to shed light on the political and economic forces that shape the meanings of food heritage. This article draws on recent research conducted at the intersection of globalisation with cultural and food politics in Peru. The empirical evidence, collected between 2011 and 2014 from individuals directly implicated in Peru's food heritage‐making, allows for a discussion of how, despite a discursive emphasis on cultural continuity and intercultural dialogue, food incursions into the UNESCO intangible cultural paradigm operate more as an elite‐driven competitive global concept than as a tool for cultural safeguarding and inclusive development. To do so, a description of the backgrounds that led to the rise of food heritage awareness in Peru and an account of the evolution of the candidature of Peruvian cuisine to the UNESCO's ICH List are provided.

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Proving participation

Vocational bureaucrats and bureaucratic creativity in the implementation of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

Chiara Bortolotto, Philipp Demgenski, Panas Karampampas, and Simone Toji

This paper investigates the bureaucratisation of the (utopian) ideal of community participation in Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) safeguarding and management. The analysis considers the whole ‘policy life’ of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of ICH. Our ethnographic examples from UNESCO, Brazil, China and Greece illustrate how bureaucratic operations often disenchant the participatory ideal, alienating it from its original intention. At the same time, driven by their commitment to ‘good’ governance and informed by sentiments of frustration and disappointment with actual policy results, vocational bureaucrats at different administrative levels experiment with and conceive of new tools in order to produce evidence of participation. We demonstrate how this bureaucratic creativity has concrete consequences, which may differ from the intended utopia, but nevertheless bring to life particular interpretations of the participatory principle among the recipients for whom heritage policies were originally designed. Thus, we present a more nuanced picture of bureaucratisation in which officials’ emotions and engagement sustain their agency against structural constraints as well as the futility and fragility of administrative procedures.

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The Contemporary Turn

Debate, Curricula, and Swedish Students' History

Thomas Nygren

In 2010, a proposal for a new history syllabus was criticized in the Swedish media for emphasizing contemporary history at the expense of ancient history. This study shows how contemporary history has increasingly been the focus of the guidelines developed by UNESCO and the Council of Europe, the national curricula, and students' work since the 1950s, while graduating students had generally rather chosen to focus on the early modern era up until the 1930s. Although history and civics were given status as separate school subjects in 1961, students' work in history continued to focus on contemporary subject matter. This study shows that the dominance of contemporary history in students' history is by no means a new phenomenon.

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Intangible Cultural Heritages

The Challenge for Europe

Máiréad Nic Craith

Heritage has traditionally been associated with material objects, but recent conventions have emphasized the significance of intangible culture heritage. This article advocates a holistic approach towards the concept and considers key challenges for Europe's heritage at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Reflecting on the notion of 'European', it considers the question of how one defines European heritage and which European heritage is to be protected. It explores links between national and European conceptions of identity and heritage and queries issues of ownership, language and representation. A number of ethical issues are raised - such as the role of women in the transmission of heritage and the implications of information technology for copywriting traditional practices. The author also asks how one ensures that the process of globalisation facilitates rather than eliminates local cultural heritages? How does one enhance the local so that it becomes glocal and not obsolete?

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Staging Sassoun

Memory and Music Video in Post-Soviet Armenia

Rik Adriaans

revival of the nation’s pre-genocide past that are driven by the institutionalization of the nation form in the post-1945 global order, such as the recent inscription of the oral performance of the Armenian national epic Daredevils of Sassoun on UNESCO’s

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Decolonisation Matters

Patrícia Ferraz de Matos and Livio Sansone

museums, where the hot issue of repatriation of artefacts and human remains that were pillaged, stolen, or abusively gathered in the Third World was initiated by the 1970 UNESCO Convention against Illicit Export under the Act to implement the Convention

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Representations of the Holocaust in Albanian Secondary School History Textbooks since the Educational Reform of 2004

Esilda Luku

). 5 Peter Carrier, Eckhardt Fuchs, and Torben Messinger, eds., The International Status of Education about the Holocaust: A Global Mapping of Textbooks and Curricula (Paris: UNESCO, 2015). 6 Peter Carrier, Explaining the Holocaust and Genocide in