March 09, 2011

Native examples of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Forty-six new elements added to Representative List of the Intangible Cultural HeritageThe Aalst Carnival in Belgium, the Peking Opera, Spanish Flamenco, the Wayuu normative system in Colombia, the traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan in Iran, and falconry, presented by 11 countries, are among the 46 elements inscribed today on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee, chaired by Jacob Ole Miaron from Kenya and meeting in Nairobi until 19 November, examined and inscribed 46 of the 47 nominations presented.The long list of "elements" includes:Colombia--The Wayuu normative system, applied by the Pütchipü’üi (palabrero): The Wayuu community inhabits the Guajira Peninsula straddling Colombia and Venezuela. Its legislative system comprises a body of principles, procedures and rites that govern the social and spiritual conduct of the community.

Mexico--Pirekua, traditional song of the P’urhépecha: Pirekua is a traditional music of the indigenous P’urhépecha communities of the State of Michoacán, Mexico, sung by both men and women. Its diverse mix of styles draws on African, European and indigenous American origins, with regional variations identified in 30 of the 165 P’urhépecha communities.

Mexico--Traditional Mexican cuisine--ancestral, ongoing community culture, the Michoacán paradigm: Traditional Mexican cuisine is a comprehensive cultural model comprising farming, ritual practices, age-old skills, culinary techniques and ancestral community customs and manners.

Peru--Huaconada, ritual dance of Mito: Huaconada is a ritual dance performed in the village of Mito in the province of Concepción in the central Peruvian Andes. Every year, on the first three days of January, masked men known as huacones perform a choreographed series of dances in the centre of the town.

Peru--The scissors dance: The scissors dance is performed by inhabitants of Quechua villages and communities in the south-central Andes of Peru, and now in urban settings. This competitive ritual dance is performed during dry months coinciding with the main phases of the agricultural calendar.
Comment:  Nothing from the United States or Canada? What's up with that? Is this a case of the UN's bias against the US and its neighbor? Has UNESCO already added hundreds of practices from these countries' indigenous cultures? With 5% of the world's population, the US and Canada should've had a couple of items on the list.

Looking at the Intangible Cultural Heritage website, it appears the US and Canada aren't members of this group. That may explain why none of their practices made it onto the list. The next question is why they aren't members of this seemingly well-meaning group.

Australia and New Zealand aren't members either. I wonder if this has something to do with these four countries' refusal to sign the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The US still hasn't signed it, I believe; the Obama administration merely agreed to "lend support" to it.


Jaine said...

no surprises that the big four (NZ, Aust, Canada and US) are not on it. Both NZ and Aust have since signed the UN Declaration but I the rhetoric of these Governments does not match their actions.

Anonymous said...

It could be because of the United States' poor history with UNESCO. Essentially, it's over UNESCO's call for a more democratic media in 1984. This put the U.S. in company with the United Kingdom (nice) and the Soviet Union (egad!) and Singapore (They just don't want the possibility someone might see people kiss.) More recently, UNESCO's had issues with Israel over Rachel's tomb (which is in Palestinian lands, but also on the list of cultural heritage sites in Israel, and now on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage sites), and, as you know, no matter if it helps or harms the United States, most Americans are convinced Israeli interest is their interest.

Anonymous said...

Also, I'm pretty sure America was tense with UNESCO after "The Race Question".