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The intangible cultural heritage of Chino Dances: UNESCO takes part in Chile in a discussion organized by FUCOA

10.08.2018 -Understanding and valuing the vast intangible heritage of rural Chile was the framework for an interesting exchange of information and experiences that was organized by Fundación Artesanías de Chile (Crafts of Chile Foundation) and Fundación de Comunicaciones, Capacitación y Cultura del Agro (Fucoa), a nonprofit that addresses agricultural communications, training and culture. The event took place on August 7, 2018 at Palacio de la Moneda Cultural Center.

The reflections were focused specifically on Chino Dances, an expression of Chile’s intangible cultural heritage that has formed part of the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICP) of Chile since 2014, and that has been kept alive thanks to the efforts of small communities in the center and north of this South American country.

In the ensuing discussion, which took place in the microcinema of La Moneda Palace Cultural Center, Nicolás del Valle, who heads the culture department at UNESCO’s office in Santiago, was joined by Claudio Mercado, anthropologist and musicologist of the Intangible Heritage Section of the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, Santiago. Mercado described how vibrant this tradition still is, but also underlined its vulnerability, due to the decreasing participation of younger generations and the competition for cultural spaces within the same territory.

Nicolás del Valle emphasized UNESCO’s work to safeguard intangible heritage, identifying it and suggesting measures for its protection. He also summed up UNESCO's cultural diversity conventions, which have led to many different initiatives, including conceptual frameworks about what is intangible cultural heritage, how to analyze and protect it, and the objectives for its safe keeping, together with the actions and measures that can be implemented to achieve these aims.

Del Valle also spoke about the role and obligations of UNESCO member states, including Chile, with regard to protecting intangible cultural heritage, the importance of other areas, like education, for safeguarding it and how UNESCO’s office in Santiago works on projects to this effect. He also mentioned a regional project that is underway to identify and promote innovative educational practices in the region that integrate intangible cultural heritage. UNESCO will be reporting soon on this project.

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