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From Archive to Living Heritage. Participatory Documentation Methods in Crafts

Chapter in book
Authors Gunnar Almevik
Published in Crafting Cultural Heritage. A. Palmsköld (red.)
Pages 77-99
ISBN 978-91-981406-3-7
ISSN 1101-3303
Publisher University of Gothenburg
Place of publication Gothenburg
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Conservation
Pages 77-99
Language en
Keywords Craft, Craftsmanship, Intangible heritage, Documentation, Methodology
Subject categories Technology and culture, Cultural Studies


The idea of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), in which traditional craftsmanship is identified as one of five domains for safeguarding, is based on a people-up system with appropriate community-based methods to elicit local heritage values. However, by far the two most highlighted implementation tools on the operational agenda are “the urgent safeguarding list” and “the representative list,” the methodology of which we are familiar with through western museum tradition. Critical research has revealed how the international procedures for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage revolve around a list of selection and display, subordinated to national and regional political interests.1 Yet the operational directives for implementation do provide other less conventional tools. There is support firstly for exemplary methods of working with intangible heritage, secondly for participation of communities and groups in non-governmental organizations and centers of expertise. These latter participatory tools reflect the principles and objectives of the convention, yet they are far from being the ones in focus. The subject of this article is the documentation of intangible heritage, whose safeguarding is a core activity. What context-appropriate methods do we need to involve craftspersons in documentation of craft procedures and crafted objects within their scope of competence and sense of heritage? How can we design for participation in heritage conservation and museum practice?

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