The competent bodies for implementing the Convention and setting policies for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage are the Ministry of Cultures and Tourism and its Unit for Intangible Cultural Heritage in coordination with the municipal, departmental and indigenous governments. Departmental councils have also been created in the context of ‘cultural journeys’ in the nine departments. Other significant institutional actors are: universities (academic research into intangible cultural heritage); the Vice Ministry of Traditional Medicine and Interculturality (within the Ministry of Health); and the Ministry of Education. Programmes and projects are also carried out in coordination with the National Commission for UNESCO through the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Delegation of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to UNESCO. A law dedicated to cultural heritage (No. 530), which includes intangible cultural heritage, has been adopted and published in 2014.
Training has been undertaken using workshops held by the Ministry of Cultures and Tourism through the Unit of Intangible Cultural Heritage, to inter-institutional promoter boards and Activation Committees for specific elements (e.g. the Activation Committee of the Ichapekene Piesta) on preparing nomination files at national and international level, safeguarding plans and inventorying. In addition, a training workshop on management and recognition of intangible cultural heritage has been developed with the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AECID). Two capacity-building workshops, within UNESCO’s global strategy, were held to improve ability to implement the 2003 Convention in cooperation with the Ministry and support from the UNESCO Office in Quito.
Documentation in the field of intangible cultural heritage is primarily gathered and held by the Ministry of Cultures and Tourism. Other bodies active in documentation include: the Departmental Government of Oruro; the Association of Folklore Bands of Oruro; the Committee of Ethnography and Folklore of Oruro; the Universidad Técnica de Oruro; the Bolivian Institute of Traditional Kallawaya Medicine; the Cultural Foundation of the Central Bank of Bolivia; and the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore.
The Constitution identifies the inventorying of elements of intangible cultural heritage as a priority task for the safeguarding of cultural heritage in coordination with departmental and municipality governments and indigenous entities. The Ministry has developed a Plurinational System of Registration of Intangible Cultural Heritage through a database generated by departmental and municipal governments, for implementation in 2015. Currently, there are five main groups of inventories of Bolivian intangible cultural heritage. These are as follows: (1) Inventory of the Carnival of Oruro: this is based on ethnographic research undertaken in the 1970s enhanced by an inventorying methodology developed at a regional workshop; its objectives include systematizing and encouraging academic investigation about the Carnival of Oruro and creating a comprehensive database of Bolivia’s intangible cultural heritage. Forty-eight groups have been registered and catalogued in 18 specialties and 831 files prepared for ten categories (e.g. dance, wardrobe, choreography, music, historical process, rehearsing wardrobe). (2) Inventory of Andean cosmovision of the Kallawaya culture containing records of 33 years of work by German psychiatrist, Ina Rösing. This material is partially available. (3) Registry of 60 music styles in danger of disappearing from Bolivian Aymara communities in the departments of La Paz and Oruro. (4) Inventory of the elements to be nominated to the Representative List and process of cataloguing using a digital system with fields for context, dance, festivity, associated instruments and objects, and musicological analysis. This contains records of five festivities and one music and dance element gathered with the voluntary participation of the communities concerned. (5) Other inventories undertaken on behalf of municipal governments, indigenous authorities and their neighbours covering eight elements.
Other safeguarding activities include creating a ‘System of Cultural Heritage Management’, incorporating elements to the Representative List with support from AECID. Another action is the declaration of intangible cultural heritage as heritage of Bolivia at both national and international levels: 70 elements have now been declared. One of the main pillars of safeguarding strategies is the participation and agreement of the community, which has allowed communitarian participation initiatives, such as the creation of departmental ‘Cultural Boards’ in the nine departmental governments.
Some safeguarding measures are related to specific elements. For instance, several conferences about the ‘Danza de la Diablada’, were organized in 2010 by local and national institutions. Also in 2010, an exchange of experiences between the Carnival of Oruro and the Carnival of Barranquilla took place in La Paz, with the participation of dance groups. Activation Committees have been established that are responsible for elements nominated up until 2014 for international inscription. Monitoring, assessment and support meetings have been held by local authorities and communities to implement the safeguarding plans.
Anthropological and historical research studies through specialized institutions is strong in Bolivia, including: the Centre of Rural Investigation and Promotion (e.g. rescuing and valuing indigenous traditions and knowledge related to agricultural technology, textiles, organization, education, religion, rituals); the HISBOL Centre of Art and Literature Documentation, with studies of indigenous towns of Bolivia; the Centre of Studies on Economic and Social Reality, which has performed several studies about indigenous towns; the Centre of Investigation and Popular Service, a reference institution in the mining and the urban fields; the Centre for Ecology and Andean Towns, an institution committed to environmental justice and intercultural coexistence; and the Programme of Strategic Investigation in Bolivia (PIEB) where research on civil society actors and subsequent knowledge dissemination aims to assist the sustainable development model and strengthening of democracy.
PIEB also undertakes capacity-building for research and documentation aims to strengthen local capabilities and support the work of investigators and documentation centres, through training courses and financial support. The Museum of Ethnography and Folklore is also an important institution involved in the collection, documentation, research on and presentation of knowledge and cultural expressions. Its objectives include helping to link local knowledge producers with the rest of the population in Bolivia and worldwide. It has held workshops on intangible cultural heritage with the participation of social communicators, aiming to strengthen promotion of this heritage and raise awareness of civil society.
Various higher education institutions have also incorporated specific lines of research on intangible cultural heritage, established master degrees and other specialised courses. As an example, students of Anthropology of the Technical University of Oruro presented theses on the Carnival of Oruro, and the Faculty of Architecture of the University Mayor de San Andres developed an MA degree on Cultural Heritage Management aimed at training professionals capable of fostering intercultural coexistence and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage.
Bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation has been fostered through coordination with the Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Latin America (CRESPIAL), MERCOSUR, AECID and the National Institute of Historical Artistic Heritage of Brazil with whom an exchange of experience for cultural management and the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage have been developed. Bilateral agreements have also been concluded with countries of the Andean Community and with Peru and Ecuador for the organization of a workshop on the elaboration of nomination files for the Representative List. An exchange project about experiences and knowledge of cultural management has been carried out with Brazil, including inventorying elements of intangible cultural heritage. A training workshop for management and recognition of intangible cultural heritage has been developed with AECID.
Bolivia has four elements inscribed on the Representative List, namely: the Carnival of Oruro, (2008, originally proclaimed in 2001 as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity); Andean cosmovision of the Kallawaya (2008, also originally proclaimed in 2003 as a Masterpiece); Ichapekene Piesta, the biggest festival of San Ignacio de Moxos (2012); and Pujllay and Ayarichi, music and dances of the Yampara culture (2014). In addition, the Safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage of Aymara communities in Bolivia, Chile and Peru has been selected in 2009 for inclusion on the Register of Best Safeguarding Practices.