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Maags, Christina and Trifu, Ioan (2018) 'Protecting the Weak? Tracing UNESCO’s Influence on Intangible Cultural Heritage Regimes in Japan and China.' In: Amelung, Iwo, Bälz, Moritz, Holbig, Heike, Schumann, Matthias and Storz, Cornelia, (eds.), Protecting the Weak in East Asia. Abingdon; New York: Routledge, pp. 224-253. (Routledge Contemporary Asia Series)

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The chapter examines whether the UNESCO has provided Japanese and Chinese state and society with new opportunities to use the notion of “intangible cultural heritage” (ICH) to mobilise domestically for the protection of traditional culture. Through a qualitative analysis of government documents, newspaper articles and interviews, Maags and Trifu comparatively retrace the dynamics of the framing, mobilisation and institutionalisation processes behind the protection of one “classical”, one minority-related, and one culinary ICH practice in Japan and China. They find that although the UNESCO ICH convention has provided state and non-state actors the opportunity to reframe existing notions of traditional culture for the sake of mobilising support and institutionalising ICH safeguarding, it has failed to alter the conception which prevails in both countries that the protection of intangible heritage is an elite pursuit. The ICH concept is appropriated to serve the interests of certain socio-political actors and previously existing institutional frameworks. As these elites foster the safeguarding of “outstanding” examples of national culture for domestic and international display, the chapter asks to what extent the UNESCO Convention is in fact protecting “weak” culture in these countries.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISBN: 9780815368229
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2018 19:05

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