Intangible Cultural Heritage in Switzerland: Whispered Words
Responsable du projet Ellen Hertz
Philippe Geslin

Andres Kristol

Daniel Fabre
Marc Olivier Gonseth
Walter Leimgruber
Aurélie Reusser Elzingre
Résumé This application builds directly on Sinergia project n° 100017_137773, “Intangible Cultural Heritage: the Midas Touch?”, which has benefited from SNF funding for three years. Our overall goal is to analyze the processes and effects of the implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (“ICH”) in Switzerland. Switzerland ratified this Convention in July of 2008, obliging the federal administration to create an inventory of Swiss ICH. As of this writing, this procedure has been partially completed: the cantons have submitted their inventories to the Federal Office of Culture (“FOC”), which has selected 167 items to figure on a national list. A third step is expected this fall when the Federal Counsel will identify a much smaller number of these for submission to UNESCO. Over the past three years, we have pursued our research goal as planned through six sub-projects, each focusing on a specific aspect of ICH. Sub-project A is an ethnography of the administration of the ICH Convention. We follow the choices that federal and cantonal administrators are confronted with, their interactions with other public agencies and private actors, and the stakes raised by ICH at the international level. Sub-project B studies the revival of story-telling in local dialect, a practice that fits awkwardly within the paradigm for ICH established by UNESCO. This study includes a dialectological aspect, but also looks at the new actors promoting Swiss-French dialects in the cantons of Wallis and Jura, and the "neo-patoisants" who have mobilized to rescue these vanishing languages. Sub-project C set out to investigate forms of cultural expression that were excluded from the national list, despite various attemps to promote them: the practice of hip-hop and theater with migrant populations in the city of Basel. This sub-project allows us to examine the logics of inclusion and exclusion that are a central issue in our research design. By way of contrast, sub-projects D and E focus on two cultural practices that were included in the national lists of Swiss ICH: knowledge of herbal medicine and Swiss watch-making know-how. These two examples allow us to see how cultural practices are itemized, processes and reshaped by their heritigization, and who stands to gain or to lose from such procedures. Finally, sub-project F consists in a triology of museum exhibits at the Neuchâtel Museum of Ethnography ("Bruit", Sept. 2011-June 2012; "Off Screen", Nov. 2012-August 2013; "Secrets" Feb. 2014-Nov.2014). These exhibits allow us to step back and reflect materially on the ICH paradigm and its relation to the discipline. They also allow us to focus data collection on the effects of the selection procedure, its reception by the different audiences concerned and the debates about national identity and the place of tradition that this procedure will inevitably provoke.
Mots-clés folk medecine, culture, UNESCO, story-telling, multimedia, theater, museums, hip hop, know-how, folklore, heritage
Type de projet Recherche fondamentale
Domaine de recherche Ethnologie
Source de financement FNS - Sinergia
Etat Terminé
Début de projet 1-10-2012
Fin du projet 31-3-2014
Budget alloué 650'000.00
Autre information http://p3.snf.ch/projects-141927#
Contact Ellen Hertz