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Unformatted text preview: 1 Helpdesk Research Report: Intangible Heritage and Post-Disaster Protection Date: 03/07/08 Query: Please identify literature on the social impact of disasters on intangible cultural heritage; and on international efforts to protect this heritage in disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction – including any available information on participatory processes. Purpose: Part of a Best Practices Review for the Chinese government to help with reconstruction and rehabilitation planning for the Wenchuan Earthquake. Enquirer: Beijing Normal University and DFID, China Contents 1. Overview and Definitions 2. Key Documents 1. Overview and Definitions The protection of intangible cultural heritage (see definition below) has increased in prominence in recent years. Although there is currently a limited amount of literature that discusses the protection of cultural heritage specifically in post-disaster situations, this too is an area that is gaining attention. Natural disasters (such as earthquakes in India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia) and man-made disasters (such as the wars in Afghanistan and the Balkans) have destroyed and threatened much tangible and intangible cultural heritage (e.g. building typologies and skills, handicraft traditions, communal livelihoods and traditions, social relationships and ecological balances). Much of the literature and comments from heritage experts stress the inter- relationship between tangible and intangible culture. However they note that international and national protection efforts in disaster rehabilitation and reconstruction are still largely focused on preserving built culture, for example monuments. Moreover, oftentimes international interventions have not only failed to protect cultural heritage, but have contributed to their destruction. A common failure is the refusal by international donors to support the repair and reconstruction of traditional vernacular housing (e.g. in Kosovo, India and Indonesia). This housing represents not only built heritage but a „way of life‟, encompassing traditional building skills. Instead, generic and standardised housing have been imposed that do not address the needs of local inhabitants. It is also resulting in the disappearance of traditional building skills and knowledge. In addition, the „modern‟ urban layouts adopted in new settlements, where villages or historic cities have been destroyed, have often neglected local social, economic, cultural and ecological factors (community identity, social relationships, and inhabitants‟ connections to the surrounding environment and to traditional livelihoods). The literature stresses the importance of involving local communities in reconstruction efforts post-disaster: only efforts that incorporate local needs and draw on local values, building technologies and skills will be sustainable. In addition, it is important to involve local actors in inventorying heritage as their definition of heritage items may differ from national and international...
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- Spring '12
- cultural heritage, the Cultural Heritage