“Reluctant Gatekeeper of the National Inventory”: a Case Study of the Formation of the Faroese Inventory of ICH

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Abstract

As the Faroe Islands ratified the 2003 UNESCO Convention in 2018 and immediately began to develop a National Inventory, the Faroese Ministry of Culture appointed “expert” representatives of the National Museum and the University of the Faroese Islands for a small assisting committee tasked with assessing and possibly editing proposals for the inventory. The present article is based on reflections from an insider perspective of the process, as the author is one of the members participating in the preparations. The various “candidates” submitted for the inventory are presented and discussed in relation to the analyses of the parliament debates preceding the ratification and media coverage before and after the Convention was passed in the Faroese Parliament. How and by whom is the inventory formed in theory and in practice? What is the appropriate role of scholars in the process? The article suggests that the participation of academic experts as “gate keepers” of inventories can be used to lend credibility of specific selections of intangible cultural heritage worthy of safeguarding within a particular national community. This is problematic from an academic point of view, since scholars can easily get tangled up in essentialist and outdated understandings of national culture as they enter a stage operating by different objectives than the academic discourse of critical enquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-518
Number of pages18
JournalSLOVENSKÝ NÁRODOPIS / SLOVAK ETHNOLOGY
Volume69
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2022
EventSIEF Conference: BREAKING THE RULES? POWER, PARTICIPATION, TRANSGRESSION - Virtual, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 19 Jun 202124 Jun 2021
Conference number: 15
https://www.siefhome.org/congresses/sief2021/

Keywords

  • Faroe islands
  • Intangible Cultural Heritage
  • ICH inventory
  • UNESCO
  • Community
  • Politics of representation
  • Role of academic scholars
  • Critical Heritage Studies
  • Reification of “national culture”
  • Hunting as heritage
  • whaling

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