Mar 1, 2010

Call for Papers for Special Issue on Culture and Sustainable Communities

Some of you may well be interested in this post on The Green Economy Post:

Culture and Local Governance / Culture et Gouvernance Locale is now accepting manuscript submissions for its ‘Culture and Sustainable Communities’ special issue to be published in September 2010. Papers are invited across a broad range of theory and practice of cultural sustainability planning within the municipal context. Potential themes include, but are not limited to, case studies of municipalities that incorporate culture within sustainability planning, new strategic approaches and frameworks of incorporating culture within sustainability initiatives, theoretical examinations and adaptation of cultural considerations within the sustainability paradigm, and the interplay between diversity and sustainability in municipal cultural plans.

The submission deadline for this special issue is May 1, 2010.

Feb 23, 2010

Unesco ICH job in Paris

Interesting job announcement:

Post title

Assistant Programme Specialist

Organisational unit

Intangible Cultural Heritage Section, Division of Cultural Objects and
Intangible Heritage, Culture Sector

Duty station

Paris, France



Post number


Closing date

3 April 2010

Main responsibilities

Under the authority of the Chief of Section of Intangible Cultural
Heritage and the supervision of the Chief of the Evaluation Unit, the
incumbent will assist in the coordination, development, management and
evaluation of activities and projects related to intangible cultural
heritage (“ICH”), in particular in the framework of the implementation
of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural

Continue reading »

Feb 22, 2010


By the way, if you are not a member of Publore, you should be.

Feb 18, 2010


I hope Jeff Gillenwater will forgive me for quoting a snippet from his groundwork paper from his Intro to Cultural Sustainability course:

The neighborhood’s tradition is not defined by the use of specific time appropriate tool sets or materials but by the creative, skillful use of tools and materials within the context of contemporary circumstance, whether that use occurred 150 years ago or yesterday.

This is a pretty brilliant thing to say, I think.

Feb 16, 2010

Crafting gentleness

Anthony McCann has been and continues to be an inspiration and an influence in my thinking and practice. I haven’t checked out his stuff recently, but was delighted to look at his website Crafting Gentleness. An excerpt from the first page follows, and a whole lot of useful and thought provoking reading awaits if you check it out further!

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that we matter, hard to believe that we can do anything about the horrible things that go on in this world, hard to believe that we make a difference.

The crafting gentleness website invites you to consider the practice of gentleness as a possible and powerful politics in your life. Through this website you are invited to consider that you do matter, that you always-already make a difference. Every moment of your life you move within a sea of influences, changes, and consequences. Every moment of your life you make a difference. What’s important is to helpfully understand how.

Feb 14, 2010

Imagining Equity: Cultural Documentation, Independent Film, and Cultural Sustainability — Introduction

January 24, 2010 — SFO

I’m writing in the San Francisco International airport, bleary eyed after 17 hours in transit from Auckland. My brain is bubbling as I reflect on my last four weeks in Aotearoa New Zealand (Aotearoa, usually translated as “land of the long white cloud,” is the Maori name for New Zealand) where the quest for Cultural Sustainability is palpable in and among various groups, particularly Maori and other indigenous and displaced peoples, and also for the descendants of the Pacific’s British colonists, all of whom are attempting to defend, establish, or discover their “place” in the cultural olio of this small, but important Pacific country.

After more than 20 years of doing cultural documentation as a “contract ethnographer,” I am currently entering a new phase of my career. My new thing has to do with moving beyond contracts — with a client, a well-defined set of objectives, a good sense of the resources available to me, and a relatively certain financial outcome, all clearly set out in a scope of work — to the shakier ground of making full-length documentaries as an independent filmmaker/producer.

One aspect of my move into this indeterminate and open-ended (read “money sink”) ground is that I am constructing my personal and project goals in a larger arena. When I ask myself what I am “really” trying to accomplish, the answers are not easy to pin down, but they revolve around ideas of promoting diversity and cultural sustainability, and formulating and expressing (i.e., “publishing”) a positive vision of cultures in balance — I am “imagining cultural equity.”

As a documentarian, I work to accomplish this goal by positively framing my subject matter according to the affective engagement of people with their emic sense of “owned” culture/cultures  — I focus on the depth of their feeling for whatever it is that “belongs” to them, and to which they belong in turn. Based on ethnographic (and often self-ethnographic) personal, intracultural renderings, I look to construct a larger, intercultural landscape where a myriad of diverse cultural performances are dynamically displayed on a quasi-ethnological field. This field constitutes a new “world” of sorts. And in this imagined world, “visibility” is based on depth of feeling and engagement, as opposed to brute force or institutional power.

So I’d like to talk a little about some of my recent experiences in New Zealand. One of the objectives of this trip was to begin work on a film that I have been planning for some time. I am exploring the cultural landscape of Aotearoa in order to highlight and construct notions of “New Zealand music” and cultural performance framed on the basis of how New Zealand people feel — about what belongs to them, where they feel the greatest attachment and where they make the greatest (affective) investment of themselves. So I am seeking to film people as they engage in various aspects of cultural performances that are closely associated with the place — performances that “belong” in the broadest and most nuanced sense.

On this trip I filmed a group of transplanted Cook Island musicians “jamming” in a field behind their homes, a Tongan brass band traveling house-to-house and playing impromptu concerts in a post-Christmas tradition, Keneti Muaiava, a New Zealand-born Samoan master dancer, as he rehearsed a group of young men developing new expressions of traditional dances, and Bernard Makoare, a kaiwhakaairo (traditional carver) who is deeply involved in cultural recovery, rediscovery and protection of maoritanga (“things Maori”) anBernard Makoare is a traditional Maori carver and instrument maker.d particularly the cultural heritage of his tribe, Ngati Whatua.

Each of these performances constitutes “local culture” in that they all have an immediate focus — they are primarily situated in relation to local groups or communities. A question is how do these locally embedded purveyors of culture interact across borders and how do they contribute to more globally imagined ideas of culture and heritage?

The question for me then is, “How do I imagine equity into the equation?” As an ethnographer and a filmmaker, it seems to me somehow that in the motion from local to global or perhaps in the interstices between vernacular culture and “fine art,” or maybe in movement from the village to the city (or the university), that cultural inequities creep in.

In future installments of this blog, I will elaborate on some of these performances, particularly as they relate to more macroscopic constructions and narratives of larger “national” (and global) identities. I will talk about some of the participants in Aotearoa/New Zealand’s cultural mix and their histories, a subject that I’ve explored over a period of many years. I will also compare my experiences in New Zealand with analogous encounters and work that I’ve done in the United States and elsewhere. In the process I hope to show some different perspectives on Cultural Sustainability and what it means in practice.

Harold Anderson

Feb 10, 2010

CFP: Selling tradition by the pound: intangibile cultural heritage and the marketing of localities

Passing this along, looks interesting!:

The EASA call for papers is still open till March 1st. This year’s EASA biennial conference (European Association of Social Anthropologists) will take place in Maynooth, Ireland: 24-27th August This is a call for papers for workshop number W039:  “Selling tradition by the pound: intangibile cultural heritage and the marketing of localities” The list of all workshops is available at

To propose a paper, follow instructions at this link or contact directly

Short Abstract The notion of immaterial patrimony needs a critical review. Labelling landscapes, foodstuffs and traditions as ‘heritage’ involves commercial and political strategies as well as cultural. Ethnographic evidence and critical reflection are needed to review the commodification of territories.

Long Abstract The notion of immaterial patrimony needs a critical review. The recent debate on communities of practice and participatory development (e.g. in ecomuseums, or EU “Leader” projects), and the varying degree of actual local involvement, have highlighted an increasing interlacing of cultural strategies with commercial and political enterprises, in the “re-evaluation” of landscapes, foodstuffs and traditions as “heritage” and “patrimony” – each of these expressions being per se ambivalent. In Europe, both developing areas and regions struggling with industrial stagnation have invested on tourism, typical products and all things “traditional”, to gain visibility on local and international markets, tourist and media circuits. Localities seem to express entrepreneurship, especially in the promotion of cultural patrimony, whether under institutional pressure by local élites, or by democratic participation. In either case, economic and commercial considerations weigh heavily on the dissemination of cultural events, on the choice of conservation projects and on the reinvention of ceremonial practices and local foods. These are interpreted as icons of the territory and of local identity, and are treated as political and economic resources. In the Seventies, the ambivalent relationship between “folklore and profit” has been an object of anthropological critique. Today, new ethnographic evidence and critical reflection are needed, to review the commodification of cultural heritage and territories. In times of crisis, the relationship between local communities, cultural activisms and institutional promotion can be read imaginatively, especially within a comparative view that goes beyond parochial dynamics, in the face of cultural standardization and commercial instrumentalization. Convenors Dr. Cristina Grasseni (Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology, University of Bergamo)  Prof. Letizia Bindi (Associate Professor in Cultural Anthropology, Università degli Studi del Molise)

Feb 8, 2010

The late great Bess Lomax Hawes and clapping games


Feb 5, 2010

Doing the work: Southern Foodways Alliance

The Southern Foodways Alliance documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.

corn growingWe stage symposia on food culture, produce documentary films, publish compendiums of great writing, and—perhaps most importantly—preserve, promote, and chronicle our region’s culinary standard bearers. We’re talking white tablecloth chefs and fried chicken cooks, barbecue pitmasters and peanut farmers.

The SFA is a member-supported organization of more than 800 people. Chefs and academics, writers and eaters: all are active participants. Though we are a lean and efficient organization, our work has great impact. In the Atlantic Monthly, Corby Kummer dubbed the SFA “this country’s most intellectually engaged food society.”

And for those interested in an oral history internship with them, deadline feb. 15 click here

Feb 4, 2010

Cultural sustainability in design

As the term cultural sustainability becomes more and more part of the general discourse, it turns up in unexpected places. This post shares information about designer Katherine McCoy’s ideas on cultural sustainability in design:

Design can honor cultural diversity, rather than spread a homogenous cultural veneer over the world, whether it be the current “high design” expression or pervasive Western consumer culture.