Writer : Amareswar Galla
Year : 2011

Cultural diversity and intangible heritage have been the focus across the world as an integral part of the outcomes of the activities of 2010 which was The International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, The International Year of Biodiversity and The International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. In 2011 we will witness critical appraisals of our commitment and achievements in promoting the four pillars of sustainability: cultural, economic, social and environmental. The impacts of climate change and our responses to it will come under the spotlight. In 2012 the main focus of the world’s heritage agencies will be on sustainable development.

The past year has witnessed heart-rending disasters across the world, from tsunamis and earthquakes to war and civil strife. There has been considerable damage to cultural property in different countries and regions. A number of emergency responses have been generated by national agencies and also international mechanisms such the International Committee for Blue Shield. However, the focus has been mainly on tangible heritage or cultural properties. There has been scant attention paid to the much needed urgent safeguarding of intangible heritage in the disaster areas.

Emergency preparedness and response for safeguarding intangible heritage is a rarely addressed concern among the responsible agencies. This is due to the poverty of the conceptualising of heritage resources, and the predominance of the discourse on tangible cultural properties and their management. The fragmented nature of heritage protection and the legacies of heritage practices in the past were addressed as areas of concern during the Triennial General Conference of ICOM in Shanghai in November, 2010. Complex issues to do with the role of museums as civic spaces for promoting cross cultural understanding and social harmony were also examined.

The review and revision of the ICOM Strategic Plan emphasises the need for integrated and innovative approaches to museum development. On the final day of the Conference the General Assembly adopted the ICOM Cultural Diversity Charter. The adoption of the Charter was in response to the ICOM Cross Cultural Task Force recommendation for a set of guiding principles that are consistent with the ICOM Strategic Plan, and a way of continuing to address the wide range of issues with cross-cultural dimensions through intercultural and intergenerational dialogue, and of developing inclusive approaches and guidelines as to how museums should endeavour to deal with cultural diversity and biodiversity. The challenge is to embed safeguarding intangible heritage as an integral part of sustainable museum and heritage development.

In advocating a post-colonial approach to holistic heritage practice, the Journal advocates inclusive and integrated approaches. In doing so the Journal continues its commitment to publishing contributions from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds from across the world. The integrity, from refereeing to follow- up editorial process, has been overseen by a distinguished editorial board of people with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Thus, the Journal honours the commitment to linguistic diversity in safeguarding intangible heritage. It also aims to put a human face to globalisation and minimise, if not mitigate, the homogenising forces that threaten the cultural diversity of humanity.

The Journal has become a significant resource and the only dedicated and peer-reviewed international research journal for promoting the safeguarding of intangible heritage. Volume 6 also makes an important contribution to the promotion of a framework of integrated heritage management or more aptly, sustainable heritage development, through presenting case studies that bring intangible and tangible heritage together. Standard setting international instruments created by UNESCO, especially the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001); the Convention on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) and the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005) challenge us to develop inclusive museums and heritage practice that will ensure the continuity of cultural contents and expressions in all their diversity.

Finally, I would like to thank the Editorial Advisory Committee for guidance and the Editorial Board for the breadth of vision to ensure that this is a truly international journal. The committment of ICOM Korea and the Text Editor, Dr Pamela Inder is gratefully appreciated. Finally, the production of the Journal would not be possible without the support of the staff and resources of the National Folk Museum of Korea. Dr. Cheon Jingi, the new Director General of the Museum, is a scholar dedicated to the safeguarding of intangible heritage whose unstinting support is assured. The Journal continues to be free for downloading from the web page. It is distributed in print form to targeted libraries and institutions. This altruistic global access to knowledge is enabled in the generous spirit of the Korean cultural values: Sotong-소통(communication with deep meaning) and Nanum-나눔(sharing)