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2019 Summer Folklore Institute: Building Capacity for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage

I have just returned from a second summer trip to China. This time I was part of an American delegation to one of the summer institutes jointly organized by the China Folklore Society and the American Folklore Society. Previous joint institutes were held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA at the School of Advanced Research (2018), in Hailar, Inner Mongolia, China at Hulunbiur University (2017), and in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China at Inner Mongolia Normal University (2016).  This year’s institute was hosted by The Institute of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China. As in past years, the lead funder was the Henry Luce Foundation, which generously supports a broader program of work being pursued jointly by the AFS and CFS working together. As always, other funders and local organizations provided additional support for this institute.

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Figure 1. Participants in the 2019 Summer Folklore Institute: on “Building Capacity for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage” July 13, 2019. Photograph courtesy of The Institute of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage.

It was a great pleasure to participate in the institute, a gathering that offered a chance to connect with new American and Chinese colleagues while also reconnecting with colleagues whom I have ongoing ties (Figure 1). The institute not only strengthened ties with Chinese and American colleagues, it further helped me understand intangible cultural heritage work being pursued in China (and in the U.S.).

Staged for two days at the mid-point of the institute was a larger international conference on the same theme. This International Seminar on Building Capacity for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage included all of the American and Chinese institute participants, but added a significant additional group of Chinese participants as well as one colleague from Bangladesh and one from Japan (Figure 2). A few of the seminar participants were old friends, but most were new colleagues from whom I was thrilled to learn.

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Figure 2. Participants in the International Seminar on Building Capacity for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage. July 15, 2019. Photograph courtesy of The Institute of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage.

If you would like to learn more about the institute, there are (so far) two reports published on it (besides this one). The China Folklore Society published a report just after the institute got under way. If you do not read Chinese, you can open the link in Google Chrome and use Google Translate for a rough translation. This report is here: https://www.chinesefolklore.org.cn/web/index.php?NewsID=19023

The Institute of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage published a report at the conclusion of the institute. It can be found here. Again, Google Translate can provide a rough translation. https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/gk0KwKcHxq70ZHNXywo2Bw

The Institute of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage also published a report at the conclusion of the international seminar. It can be found here: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/eY-X2ATW7aUudqwTewXDSA

Thanks to all of the participants in these gatherings. Special thanks go to all of the organizers and faculty, to the leadership of the CFS and AFS, and to our generous hosts at Sun Yat-sen University, including Professor SONG Junhua, Director of The Institute of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage.

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