Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What is Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH)? A quick definition.

I had a question this morning from a colleague who asked, essentially, what is ICH? It is a complex answer, but sometimes people want a quick summary. So, based on the UNESCO 2003 Convention and our own work at the Heritage Foundation of NL, here is our working definition:
Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, and skills that communities recognize as part of their cultural heritage. It is sometimes called living cultural heritage, is transmitted from generation to generation, and is constantly recreated by communities and groups, in response to their environment, their interaction with nature, and their history.

ICH is manifested in the following five domains:
- Oral traditions and expressions, including language;
- Performing arts;
- Social practices, rituals and festive events;
- Knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; and,
- Traditional craft.

ICH can include the stories we tell, the family events we celebrate, our community gatherings, the languages we speak, the songs we sing, knowledge of our natural spaces, our healing traditions, the foods we eat, our holidays, beliefs and cultural practices.
If you are looking for a more detailed discussion of what intangible cultural heritage is, download our free  "What is ICH?" booklet for Newfoundland and Labrador, or UNESCO's own Intangible Cultural Heritage page

Photo: Participants of the December 18, 2010 Mummers Festival, by Mark Bennett.
Courtesy Memorial University's Digital Archive Initiative. 

- Dale Jarvis

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