The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

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Intangible heritage includes oral traditions, memories, languages, traditional arts, rituals, knowledge systems, values and know-how; it is the ancient knowledge, traditional knowledge and the knowledge that inheres in poor and often marginalised communities - knowledge that enriches our lives and must be safeguarded and passed on to future generations.

This monograph defines what is meant by the term 'intangible heritage'. It then reviews the legal and financial instruments developed by countries and international bodies to manage these resources and analyses how they relate to instruments that deal with intangible heritage. The authors recommend ways that communities can safeguard their intellectual property rights as well as how cultural policy-makers within government and donor agencies can support communities by linking development initiatives with arts and heritage.

Product information

Format : 210mm x 280mm
Pages : 80
ISBN 10 : 0-7969-2074-5
ISBN 13 : 978-07969-2074-4
Publish Year : 2004
Executive summary


Key questions for the project
Key findings of the project

What is intangible heritage?
Why do we categorise some heritage as intangible?

Instruments for safeguarding intangible heritage

International instruments safeguarding intangible values associated with places and objects
International instruments safeguarding intangible heritage without strong material forms
International instruments protecting the rights associated with intangible heritage
National initiatives to safeguard intangible heritage

Assessing legal and financial instruments
Aims and objectives of existing instruments

Definitions of intangible heritage
Defining intangible heritage to exclude values associated with material heritage
The traditional and the indigenous
Conclusions around defining intangible heritage

Managing intangible heritage
Creating registers or databases of intangible heritage
Use of established criteria
New criteria for listing intangible heritage
Involving and protecting the practicing community
Structures for community representation
Managing disputes over meaning
A legal framework for the protection of community rights
Providing financial incentives for protecting intangible heritage
Protecting material traces and places associated with intangible heritage
Making intangible forms tangible
Recreating and renewing intangible heritage
Conclusions around managing intangible heritage

Infrastructure for implementing heritage policy


In this HSRC Press podcast package of three segments, we hear the views from historians who took part in the panel discussion "Writing History in the Wake of Apartheid - How one writes history in the post-apartheid period" at the Cape Town Book Fair 2009. In segment two of our three part series on "Writing History in the Wake of Apartheid, we hear from Dr Harriet Deacon.

Duration: 3 min 40 sec
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