Lecture on Intangible Heritage

Posted on Jan 13, 2015

intagible heritageIntangible Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian presents

Frank Proschan
Definitions have consequences: Taking seriously the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

Facilitation provided by Richard Kurin
When: 12:00 – 1:30 on Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Where: Smithsonian Castle Commons, 1000 Jefferson Dr. SW, Washington, D.C. 20560

Please RSVP to HolmgrenM@si.edu to ensure event capacity.


In little more than a decade, 161 countries have ratified UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, thereby incorporating it into their national legal and policy frameworks. At the heart of the Convention is its forward-looking – indeed, revolutionary – definition of intangible cultural heritage that places communities in the central role of deciding what is and isn’t their own heritage. Where did that definition come from, and where does it lead us? What are the consequences of taking that definition seriously—as it demands—for States, public and private institutions, civil society and the communities most concerned? How can the Convention’s revolutionary potential be fully realized around the globe?


Frank Proschan is an anthropologist and folklorist. Since 2006, he has worked in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Section, where he now leads the Programme Implementation Unit. His ethnographic research has taken him to many parts of the U.S. and Southeast Asia, and from the tops of high mountains to the depths of huge bureaucracies.

Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian is generously supported by the Smithsonian’s Consortium for World Cultures. For more information, please visit: www.folklife.si.edu/ICH

For further information on this message, go the website www.folklife.si.edu/ich or contact Meredith Holmgren, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, x36459 (VoIP) or 202-633-6459 (non-VoIP), HolmgrenM@si.edu.