Madaba and its 150,000 inhabitants will soon become the precursors of an experience never seen before in Jordan. Located near the capital, this region will indeed be the focus of a pilot activity of intangible cultural heritage inventorying as part of the “MedLiHer - Mediterranean Living Heritage” project, co-funded by the European Union and UNESCO.
Concretely, what is the pilot inventorying all about? Under the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, each State Party must involve communities, groups and relevant NGOs in identifying and defining elements of this heritage. Identification is the process of describing one or several specific elements of intangible cultural heritage in their context and to distinguish them from others. This process of identification and definition is what the Convention means by “inventory”. It also emphasizes that this should be done “in view of safeguarding” - that is to say that the inventory is not an abstract exercise, but a useful one. The inventory represents the first step in the development of safeguarding plans for those elements.
In order to get familiar with these concepts, those involved in inventory activities within the governorate of Madaba (community members, responsible for culture at the national and local level, researchers) will receive extensive training from 12 to 20 July. It will cover the principles of the inventory under the Convention, the role of the different stakeholders in the process and the tools and techniques of participatory documentation. This “theoretical” part will lead to the development of the methodological framework for the inventory and will be followed by a field practicum.
The workshop will be facilitated jointly by Ms. Annie Tohmé Tabet and Mr. Hani Hayajneh, both members of the network of facilitators trained by UNESCO as part of its capacity- building strategy for the implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
During the three months following the training, the research teams will go to meet communities, characterized by great cultural and religious diversity, throughout the governorate. This inventory work will concentrate on identifying and involving bearers (individuals, groups or communities) of intangible heritage, focusing especially on present social functions and challenges for its transmission to future generations, in a context where rapid urbanization is disrupting the traditional socio-cultural fabric. The methodologies developed during this pilot exercise could then be applied on a wider scale to other regions of the country.
All data collected will be systematized and digitized, while a film and a photographic exhibition will make this inventory experience available to the Jordanian and international public.
The workshop and inventory activity are part of Phase III of MedLiHer, which aims at promoting the implementation of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.