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Contextualising Intangible Cultural Heritage in Heritage Studies and Museology

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Abstract:

With this paper I make a proposal for the contextualisation of intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in the interdisciplinary field of heritage studies and museology, drawing on early research conducted during my internship at UNESCO and the first years of my doctorate. I examine emerging conceptualisations of the term starting with the national legislation of Japan and Korea in the 50s and 60s, andmore recently with the interventions of UNESCO. In addition, I assess the development of ICH in terms of the academic/intellectual discussions around the ‘alternative heritage discourse’ and the ‘new museological discourse’.Finally, drawing on interviews with Professor Patrick Boylan, Dr Richard Kurin and Mr Ralph Regenvanu, conducted in 2006-2007, I draw some preliminary conclusions as to the wider impact of ICH on heritage and museum theory and practice. What emerges is a criticalexamination of the diverse conceptualisations and appropriations of ICH, and of its potential to constitute a new heritage discourse at the interface of ‘universalism’ and ‘particularism’

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