Authenticity: A non-criterion for inscription on the Lists of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention

The disregard of the criterion of authenticity toward identification of intangible cultural
heritage (ICH) represents a key issue for the implementation of the UNESCO Convention
for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. My paper outlines UNESCO’s
argument against the criterion of authenticity and compares it to the standpoint of heritage
stakeholders. What does authenticity mean for communities seeking recognition for their
cultural expressions? Are local understandings of heritage ultimately separable from the
concept of authenticity? In order to explore these issues, I draw on ethnographic observation
of the ICH Committee sessions and I present a comparative analysis of the nomination files for
elements inscribed in the international Lists of ICH of Humanity between 2009 and 2012.


  1. paper (433.9 KiB)