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A cultural battlefield for China, Japan, and South Korea in XXI century: competing for global and regional leadership in intangible cultural heritage (ICH)

On March, 2, 2021 the School of International Regional Studies of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, HSE University, together with the Russian Middle East Association within the framework of the permanent online seminar seminars "Contemporary Area Studies», organized a meeting with a postdoctoral fellow at the School of International Regional Studies at the HSE University Dr. Eriks Varpahovskis. The topic of the meeting was: "A cultural battlefield for China, Japan, and South Korea in XXI century: competing for global and regional leadership in intangible cultural heritage (ICH)»

The seminar was moderated by Sadygzade Murad, President of the Russian Middle East Association, Assistant Head of the Department of International Regional Studies of the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, HSE University. 

Dr. Eriks pointed out that definition of intangible heritage was occurred in 2006.  At that time was introduced the Convention that was ratified by 30 countries. Within this Convention intangible cultural heritage was defined and it means the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills - as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith - that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. 

Nowadays, as mentioned Dr. Eriks, the Convention is accepted and ratified by 180 States. The expert noted two main lists that exists in the UNESCO’s list. As Dr. Eriks said, if a State wants to declare its cultural heritage as intangible, it has two ways. First list is composed of intangible heritage elements that concerned communities and States Parties consider require urgent measures to keep them alive. The second one is made up of those intangible heritage elements that help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise the awareness about its importance. 

One of the issue which the expert has stressed is the quite small budget of the Organization. It accounts 7.8 million dollars. 

Dr. Eriks highlighted the role of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The main function of this Committee is the application of the Convention. According to the expert’s assessment, there was a trio of leaders by the number of items inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. They were and still are China, Japan, and South Korea. 

The essential thing that is made from investigation related to the following conclusion. China, Japan, and South Korea perceive ICH not so much as a platform and an instrument to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of their own and other member-states, as a tool to define cultural differences and prevent cultural appropriation. Moreover, these States use ICH to influence on the international arena and other domestic and foreign policy goals. 

Dr. Eriks answered all participant’s questions. 

The link to the video: https://youtu.be/LbDMDQD7wLA