We’re very excited about our new issue of PI – “Our Intangible Cultural Heritage.” If the precise meaning of this theme eludes you, Annie Katsura Rollins’s intro to her article (below) on the effect of this designation on Chinese shadow puppetry may help pierce the fog. In our wide-ranging articles on the subject, I believe we broaden the definition in a number of ways – all to the good!
“In 2003, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) added a new category to their previously established heritage distinctions: natural and tangible cultural heritage. UNESCO’s newest category, intangible cultural heritage (ICH), was created to fill a gap in categories to include ‘traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts’… Puppetry, as a performed traditional practice, qualifies best as an intangible cultural heritage within UNESCO’s three categories. However, puppetry, a performed practice with a decidedly tangible physical element––the puppet or performing object––exposes the limits of categorical safeguarding theories and methods and shows us new ways to consider safeguarding our intangible cultural heritage.” - Annie Katsura Rollins
The magazine is being printed as I type, and should be out in mid to late April, along with lots of “bonus material” on the website: unima-usa.org/index – look for PI #45.