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  • International Field School Alumni Seminar on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia Pacific

    Co-hosted by the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre (SAC) and the International Research Centre for ICH in Asia Pacific Region (IRCI)

    Venue: Lamphun Province, Thailand
    Date: August 6-10, 2012
    Abstract Deadline
    : April 1, 2012
    Paper Deadline
    : June 30, 2012

    Seminar Description

    In 2003, UNESCO adopted the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), which calls upon governments, cultural organizations, and local communities to collaborate in the protection of the oral histories, performing arts, social practices, and local knowledge and skills that constitute a vital source of the world’s cultural diversity. This expansion of heritage management to include intangible culture created an unprecedented demand for analytical expertise and methodological approaches drawn from the discipline of cultural anthropology. This is particularly true in the Asia-Pacific region, where heritage programs have not kept pace with the demand for expertise in intangible heritage management.

    In response to this need, and as part of its commitment to the expansion of anthropological research and knowledge in Thailand and the region, in 2009, the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre (Public Organization) launched the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Field School program—a two-week, intensive training program open to recent university graduates, museum practitioners, mid-career professionals, educators, and others involved in the heritage field. Developed in partnership with UNESCO Bangkok and the Asian Academy for Heritage Management (AAHM), the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Field School program aims to equip participants with both the conceptual and practical tools to actively engage with intangible heritage issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

    For three consecutive years since 2009, the SAC’s Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Field School program has offered anthropological frameworks for researching, documenting, and working collaboratively with communities to safeguard their intangible heritage. Through a field practicum with four communities in Lamphun province, participants gained hands-on experience in applying anthropological tools and frameworks to research intangible culture.  To date, a total of 55 alumni from across the Asia-Pacific have participated in the Field School.

    This year, the SAC is pleased to announce the “2012 International Field School Alumni Seminar on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific.” Organized in cooperation with the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific (IRCI) and hosted in Lamphun Province, Thailand, the Field School Alumni Seminar aims to bring together alumni from the Field School to share their experiences on safeguarding intangible cultural heritage via their home institutions. While we aim to showcase the effort to safeguard ICH via the museum (i.e. State, private, community-based and eco-museums), the seminar will also feature the efforts of heritage organizations and academic institutions.

    Field School alumni are invited to submit papers which feature case studies and examples of how they used the Field School experience to inform their work back in their home institutions. What fieldwork methods have alumni applied to research ICH in their own countries? One of the core principles of the Field School is to support a participatory, community-based approach to safeguarding intangible culture. Have Field School alumni been successful in implementing such a community-based approach? If not, what kinds of challenges and obstacles have they encountered?

    We welcome papers that highlight one or more aspects of the complex, field-based process of identifying, researching and documenting, promoting, protecting and revitalizing intangible culture. Case studies of co-curation, community collaboration, and sharing authority and decision-making about museum activities and representations are also encouraged. We also  invite papers that grapple with the challenges and implicit contradictions of safeguarding living cultures via the museum and/or heritage institution, i.e. How to support the intergenerational transmission of intangible culture via the museum, and how living practices and peoples tend to become “fossilized” or frozen in the museum context.

    The seminar aims to provide a platform for sharing knowledge and experiences among Field School alumni as they apply new methods and approaches to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage.  A secondary aim is to develop a selection of the submitted papers for future publication of an edited volume.

    Submission Details

    500-word abstracts and a 5-line biography should be submitted by 1 April 2012. Successful applicants will be advised by 30th April and will be required to send in a completed paper (approximately 5,000-8,000 words) by 30 June 2012. Partial or full funding will be available for those in the Asia-Pacific Region who are unable to fund their participation.

    Abstracts should be sent via email to a.denes@sac.or.th, by fax +66 2880 9332, or by post to: Attn: Alexandra Denes, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre, 20 Barommaratchachonnani Road, Taling-Chan, Bangkok, 10170, Thailand, by no later than 1 April 2012.

    Profile of Seminar Participants

    The seminar is open to twelve museum practitioners and heritage professionals in the Asia-Pacific region who are ICH and Museums Field School alumni. The seminar will also be attended by a group of international experts in museology and anthropology who will give papers and provide feedback on alumni presentations.

    Seminar Observers

    The seminar is open to observers who are not alumni of the Field School program. There is no registration fee; however, observers are responsible for covering their own travel and living expenses in Lamphun.

    Travel, Accommodation and Living Expenses

    Organizers (SAC and IRCI) will provide funding support for selected participants who are unable to fund themselves.  In addition to round trip air travel to Lamphun, Thailand (via Chiang Mai), estimated expenses during the 5-day seminar are 7500 THB.

    Seminar Organizers

    The Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre (SAC) is a public organization under the supervision of the Thai Ministry of Culture. Established in 1989, the Centre‘s primary mission is to promote understanding among peoples through the study of human societies. SAC‘s activities fall within three main program areas: documentation, research, and public education and outreach. Geographically, SAC‘s program activities focus on Thailand and the Greater Mekong Sub-region, with the broad aim of fostering tolerance and cross-cultural awareness in the region through anthropological research and public education.

    One of the Centre‘s flagship research projects is the Local Museums Research and Development Project. Recognizing the vital role of local museums as repositories of Thailand‘s local history and culture, in 2005, SAC began the project of surveying all the museums in Thailand for inclusion in a searchable, digital database. Concurrently, SAC launched collaborative, action research and development projects with several local museums. These collaborative projects involved a range of research, capacity-building and knowledge- sharing activities. In order to share experiences and lessons learned from the first three pilot projects in local museum management, SAC launched a series of regional museum network meetings aimed at building regional support networks among museum organizers. In 2009, the SAC launched the ICH and Museums Field School, aimed at providing hands-on training in ethnographic approaches to museum and heritage practitioners in the Asia-Pacific.

    Information about the ICH and Museums Field School and the Local Museums and Development Project can be accessed at the SAC website. http://www.sac.or.th/fieldschool/ and http://www.sac.or.th/databases/museumdatabase_eng/

    The International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) was inaugurated as the first Centre under the Auspices of UNESCO in the Asia-Pacific Region on the 3rd of October 2011 in the Sakai City Museum in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture. The Research Centre is established under the precinct of the National Institutes of Cultural Heritage of Japan, and has a mandate to foster, coordinate and develop scientific, technical and artistic studies as well as research methodologies. With such capacity, the centre can assist other Asian-Pacific countries in implementing measures as referred in the Convention’s text by emphasizing the importance of research as a component for the safeguarding of ICH, as well as encouraging new generation of ICH scholars to progress and deliver the benefits of their works to the wider communities.

    Further information about the IRCI can be accessed at: http://www.irci.jp/

    For further information

    Dr. Alexandra Denes
    Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre
    20 Boromaratchachonnani Road, Taling Chan, Bangkok 10170
    Tel: +66 2880 9249 Ext 3203 Fax: +66 2880 9332
    Email: a.denes@sac.or.th


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