LEBANESE “INTANGIBLE HERITAGE” and NATIONAL IDENTITY : is constantly recreated it according to the environment , the interaction with nature and history, and provides a sense of identity and continuity (By Bahjat Rizk)

Lebanese intangible heritage and national identity ( Bahjat Rizk )

By Bahjat Rizk

To introduce this recurring theme , increasingly topical with globalization, I repeat the definition adopted by UNESCO in accordance with an international convention adopted by the General Conference in 2003 and ratified to date by 146 countries , including Lebanon in early 2007 . The term ” intangible cultural heritage” means the practices, representations , expressions, knowledge and skills that communities recognize as part of their cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated it according to the environment , the interaction with nature and history, and provides a sense of identity and continuity to the communities that are holding . This traditional and modern heritage nourishes cultural diversity and creativity. Only intangible heritage consistent with existing international instruments on human rights as well as the requirements of mutual respect among communities and sustainable development is considered. There are several additional devices at the international level to support backup: a List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity ( like that of World Heritage natural sites and gathering cultural classified by UNESCO under the 1972 Convention ) and a register of best Safeguarding Practices . The seventh session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of cultural heritage, intangible just keep UNESCO Headquarters from 3 to 7 December 2012. To date , the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding includes 27 elements in 15 countries (more than 8 applications during this session), the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage has 232 members in 86 countries (over 36 nominations at this session) . The register of Best Safeguarding Practices has 8 programs (plus 2 applications) . In addition, ten requests for international assistance backup plans or inventory were considered by this session by the 24-member committee of the States Parties to this Convention elected for a term of four years , half of which is renewed every two years . After this brief technical presentation essential, it is important to see how Lebanon stands in relation to the Convention , its spirit and its impact in terms of national identity. Firstly, the notion of interactive intangible cultural heritage , so dynamic , which provides a legal identity and continuity for communities , ie within or beyond the entity of a country and its borders, is born with globalization. For the first time at the international level , we speak of communities without being specifically national . However, in Lebanon , which is itself composed of cultural and political religious communities, this cross-community concept of intangible heritage contributes significantly to the development of a national entity that holds the Lebanese and Lebanon related to the environment and the rest of world, respecting its specificity. On the other hand , through this notion of intangible cultural heritage (or living heritage ) , we realize that the  identity process  is not static but is rather a dynamic identification based admittedly on structuring basic but interacting in interactive and evolving manner. By entering in a progressive construction based on the lived (or living together ) and history , intangible cultural heritage creates exchange gives shared , restores the link and is the heritage transmitted through men and generations . In addition, this approach must necessarily take place within the framework of human rights and the requirements of mutual respect among communities and sustainable development. The 2003 Convention sets out a coherent framework and practice in accordance with the spirit and ideals of Unesco, to best meet the challenges of globalization and ancestral fears and archaic that it can bring back .Concretely, we can observe that in Lebanon , the 1993 law that established the Ministry of Culture made ​​no mention of this heritage and did not provide structure for the follow-up had not yet been sufficiently identified and conceptualized (see L’Orient -Le Jour of Wednesday, December 12, 2012 ) . However, upon ratification of the Convention in 2007, the Ministry of Culture has been reorganized to integrate specific sub-directorate of the Lebanese intangible cultural heritage. An establishment of a national inventory of intangible heritage is underway, folk art compound, practices and social traditions such as zajal ( improvised dialect or dialectal poetry rhymed poetry contests ) , tales , legends and myths, of craft skills (cutlery , glassware, silk weaving , manufacture of bells , tapestry … ) , poetic songs of Mount Lebanon , practices whirling Dervish Tripoli , music and songs of Arab classical music ( wasla , mouwachah , qassîda , ghazal … ) , singing Bedouin traditional knowledge in medicinal material , manufacturing the oud, the dabke , etc. . In short, this Lebanese intangible heritage belongs to all Lebanese, all Lebanese religious communities together, and allows them to come together and collectively identify through common standards , beyond their specific religious affiliation. The two concerts organized by the Lebanese Diaspora Overseas with the Delegation of Lebanon to UNESCO for Independence Day , last year and this year with the dabke and national and Arab folk songs, have demonstrated the ability unifying this type of warm , eloquent and live demonstrations weld them Lebanese and Arabs and Orientals, and do communicate in a common fervor around the same universal values ​​of freedom , love of the land, dignity, attachment to roots, pride and openness to the world . Lebanese, all communities and all social categories combined , communion and join emotionally and spiritually naturally in such meetings . It is an authentic and profound expression of a common heritage festive , musical , linguistic, and social dance . With Lebanese food (part of the intangible heritage ) , this living cultural heritage unanimous. On the other hand , the current project Heritage Mediterranean living ( Medliher : Mediterranean Living Heritage ) aims to safeguard intangible heritage of the Mediterranean by facilitating the implementation of the Convention for the Preservation of Intangible Heritage of Unesco in 2003 in four Mediterranean countries , Egypt , Jordan , Lebanon and Syria. This is a directed and funded by UNESCO and the European Union in partnership with the association ” House of World Cultures ” and the relevant ministries of the four countries mentioned project. After the Cairo meeting in November 2010 , a meeting was held at the House of World Cultures from 17 to 18 December in Paris . The regional office of UNESCO in Beirut also organized a subregional workshop in Lebanon in July 2011 about the implementation of the Convention of 2003. It is therefore very important to emphasize the need for awareness , education and training at both the political and economic government and individual levels makers, groups, communities , associations and NGOs. Civil society has an important role to play in identifying the inventory and protection of intangible cultural heritage. Moreover, we have an application for certification to the Committee of NGOs: the Foundation for archiving and retrieval of Arabic music : Arab Music Archiving Research ( AMAR ) . Different projects in the same direction have recently emerged in Lebanon, including the creation of the Centre of Lebanese musical heritage Jamhour ( CPML ) chaired by Joumana Hobeika and created following Census 132 Lebanese composers of classical music by Zeina Saleh Kayali in his book Lebanese Composers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries , and the creation of Lebanon Cinema Foundation (CBF ), chaired by Maya Freige and the Arab image Foundation (IAF ), led by Zeina Arida . Other generous and very committed initiatives are also underway to inventory it alive and vital for the preservation of the Lebanese identity unifying heritage. Of course, the constitution and awareness of intangible cultural heritage in the context of the UNESCO Convention 2003 are still in their infancy and can not alone resolve identity conflicts , including in Lebanon. However, it is a process made ​​even more necessary by the situation in Lebanon and complex starting today by globalization to strengthen solidarity and dialogue between cultures, respect for cultural diversity , sustainable development and reach preserve peace between men. This is a major challenge of our new century , to establish a common platform to a diverse and unified humanity, conscious of human rights and the requirements of mutual respect among communities .
Bahjat Rizk

 (Original text in French.translated by Google translate)

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