The ICH, what is it?

What is ICH?

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) refers to the set of practices, expressions or representations that a human community recognizes as part of its heritage inasmuch as they provide that human group with a sense of continuity and identity. These practices, transmitted from generation to generation and constantly recreated, concern, for example, oral, musical or choreographic traditions, languages as carriers of these traditions, traditional games and sports, festive events, craft skills, knowledge and know-how linked to knowledge of nature or the universe.

Download the brochure "What is Intangible Cultural Heritage? "(Unesco)

How does the 2003 Convention compare with the 1972 Convention?

The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage redefines the notion of heritage to include forms of cultural expression that do not fall within the scope of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, known as the World Heritage Convention, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. The latter considers as "intangible heritage" monuments, groups of buildings and sites, i.e. the tangible heritage. In fact, expressions that fall within the scope of ICH (we speak of folklore, traditions or popular cultures) are not covered by the 1972 Convention, as the legal aspects of collective intellectual property have not been resolved.
It was in October 2003 that UNESCO adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The definition of Intangible Cultural Heritage formalizes a further broadening of the notion of "heritage" and establishes at the international level a new category of heritage that thus enhances familiar or everyday facts, gestures, words and forms of expression that were hitherto little considered.
The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has been ratified by 178 States (as of 15 June 2019), including France in 2006.

Download the brochure "Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage" (UNESCO)

What objectives for the 2003 Convention?

The central objective of the Convention is the safeguarding of ICH. While a practice must be meaningful to the community that bears it, recreates it and passes it on from generation to generation in order to remain alive, safeguarding it does not mean preserving or protecting it in the ordinary sense of these terms at the risk of freezing the ICH. The term safeguarding then refers to a set of measures that ensure the viability of the ICH, i.e. its permanent re-creation and transmission, and that must be implemented at the national and international levels:
- Identification (by or with ICH custodial communities) and inventorying
- Transmission and formal and informal transmission processes
- Valorisation
- Revitalization with the consent and participation of the community itself
- Protection

Moreover, by enhancing a community's sense of identity and belonging to its practices, ICH contributes to intercultural dialogue by encouraging mutual respect for other ways of life.

Download "Implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage" (UNESCO)

Which tools for ICH safeguarding?

International and national tools today provide a legal framework that requires States Parties and communities to take the necessary measures for the safeguarding of ICH, i.e. its identification, valorization and transmission.

•    Internationally :
To ensure the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, the 2003 UNESCO Convention establishes various tools and mechanisms.
Thus, States Parties have the possibility to present living practices on three safeguarding lists:
- Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding for Items Whose Transmission is Threatened
- Registry of best safeguarding practices that promote successful national or regional implementation of systems

•    Nationally:
The States Parties signatories to the Convention have the obligation to establish and maintain, according to their own modalities, an inventory of the ICH on their territory, with the participation of communities. Furthermore, they must also encourage research and documentation, education and awareness-raising, communication and valorization of the ICH, its protection and transmission.
In France, the Department of Research Piloting and Scientific Policy (DPRPS) within the General Directorate of Heritage of the Ministry of Culture is in charge of coordinating the implementation of the Convention and the national inventory.

What place for language and religion?

Although religions provide a sense of identity and continuity to communities, the Convention refers to them in the case of cultural practices and expressions inspired by religions. Indeed, according to Article 2 of the Convention, "social practices, rituals and festive events" fall within the scope of the intangible cultural heritage.
The same applies to language. The Convention does not refer to it per se or as a whole (grammar, vocabulary and syntax), but emphasizes it as a fundamental vehicle for the transmission of the intangible cultural heritage. Whether rituals, crafts, music, dances, etc., almost all types of intangible cultural heritage are linked or dependent on language in their daily practice and transmission from one generation to the next.

How to contribute to the national ICP inventory?

See « Contribute »

What is PciLab?

The PciLab website is the result of an experiment carried out by the InOc Aquitaine ethnopole under the supervision of the Department of Research Steering and Scientific Policy of the Ministry of Culture.
PciLab ensures the public valorisation of the French inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage by exploring the navigation possibilities offered by the semantic web and the linking of "linked" cultural data in order to restitute as accurately as possible the systems of practices and know-how of the ICH.
The experimentation aims to facilitate access to the French ICH inventory by new audiences while experimenting with online collaboration, from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia to the French ICH inventory.
PCILab is designed to be consultable in French, in the languages of France and in various languages of the world: English... This dimension will be developed little by little, in particular according to the contribution of Internet users in the various languages.

How does PciLab work?

PciLab proposes three entries according to the types of search :
- A self-completion search bar based on the free encyclopedia Wikipedia;
- A guided immersion from the domains of the ICP associated with clouds of keywords;
- A cartographic search locating the practices inventoried in metropolitan France and in the DOM-TOM.

What's in PciLab?

All the inventory sheets that have been integrated into the national inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in France after validation by the Ministry of Culture are valued in PciLab. Many inventory sheets are accompanied by multimedia content (photographs, videos and/or audio).

How to contribute to PciLab from Wikipedia?

See « Contribute »

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