Panel 5 Paper 5.2: Reconceptualising Intangible heritage: The case of the Mongolian Ger.

Liu, Xuanlin (2019) Panel 5 Paper 5.2: Reconceptualising Intangible heritage: The case of the Mongolian Ger. In: ICOMOS 2019 Advisory Committee Scientific Symposium - Rural Heritage - Landscapes and Beyond, 17 October 2019, Marrakesh, Morocco. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract (in English)

Intangible cultural heritage has been gaining increasingly attention and is now being used to critique the tangible-dominated authorized heritage discourses. However, the emphasis on non-material discourse could lead to a dichotomy between tangible and intangible heritage and overlook the materiality in intangible heritage. This has been found in the analysis of the development of cultural heritage discourse, the professional heritage management works and people’s experience in heritage tourism. In order to mitigate the dichotomy, this paper proposes a living heritage approach to investigate the making of heritage values through an understanding of people’s cultural practices of the materiality with their subjective agencies and experiences. This research uses Mongolian Ger as an example. Mongolian Ger is traditional dwellings that have predominantly located in central Asia for over three thousand years. These traditional dwellings form an essential part of pastoralism. The making craft of Mongolian Ger has been listed as national intangible cultural heritage in China in 2008. However, the Ger in recent times has been influenced by permanent grazing, tourism and modernity. The wooden material has been replaced by bricks, and the Gers has been transformed to solid structure instead of movable ones. They are now frequently used as tourism attractions and restaurants that have less original functions, which corresponds to the changes of Inner Mongolia’s society. Noting insufficient consideration on the intangible aspects of the Ger, including traditional handcraft skills of the Mongolian Ger as well as various people’s use of the Ger, the research tends to redefine the relationship between tangible and intangible heritage, based on an analysis of professional and public opinions of the differences between “traditional Ger” and “modern Ger”. Through observation it is seen that even though the physical environment is changing inevitably, people could still perceive the process of cultural creation in the tangibility because it can be seen as an embodiment of the living culture. In this scenario, the material creation does not only lead to culture changes but also becomes a medium that enables people to perceive and adopt culture changes. This research finally provides a living holistic thinking to explore Mongolian Ger in respect to living heritage approach, which requires balanced practices and sufficient considerations on both tangible and intangible dimensions.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
Liu, Xuanlin
Languages: English
Keywords: Cultural Landscapes; Rural Heritage; Rural landscapes; Intangible heritage; Theory of conservation; Definitions; Concepts; values; Local communities; customs and traditions; nature culture integration; craftsmanship; listing of intangible heritage; management; case studies; Mongolia
Subjects: A. THEORETICAL AND GENERAL ASPECTS > 02. Concept and definition
A. THEORETICAL AND GENERAL ASPECTS > 12. Theory of conservation
Q. LANDSCAPES > 06. Agricultural Landscapes
E.CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION > 09. Social and economic aspects of conservation
H.HERITAGE TYPOLOGIES > 17. Intangible cultural heritage
J.HERITAGE ECONOMICS > 05. Heritage and sustainable development
K.LEGAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES > 05. International organizations
National Committee: ICOMOS International
ICOMOS Special Collection: Scientific Symposium (ICOMOS General Assemblies)
ICOMOS Special Collection Volume: 2019 Advisory Committee Scientific Symposium
Depositing User: ICOMOS DocCentre
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2019 15:33
Last Modified: 22 May 2023 15:54
References: Baille, B., & Chippindale, C., 2007. Conference report: Tangible-Intangible cultural heritage: A sustainable dichotomy? The 7th Annual Cam- bridge Heritage Seminar, 13 May 2006. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, UK. Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites, 8, 174- 176.

Cassar, M. 2009. Sustainable Heritage: Challenges and Strategies for the Twenty-First Century, APT Bulletin. Journal of Preservation Technology, 40 (1), 3 - 11.

Smith, L., & Akagawa, N. (Eds.). 2009. Intangible Heritage (First ed.). London and New York: Routledge.

Evans, C. & Humphrey, C. 2002. After-lives of the Mongolian yurt - The 'archaeology' of a Chinese tourist camp. Journal of Material Culture, 7, 189-210.

UNESCO. 2013. Traditional craftsmanship of the Mongol Ger and its associated customs. Retrieved from

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