Intangible heritage and livelihoods : a case study on the heritage of Purulia chhau dance from India

Cardinale, Stefania (2019) Intangible heritage and livelihoods : a case study on the heritage of Purulia chhau dance from India. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.

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Abstract / Description

UNESCO and many governments around the world have begun to consider intangible heritage relevant to creating sustainable development. Economic investments in this direction are rapidly growing. However, research on intangible heritage has focused mostly on heritage nomination process and current museum practices, at the expense of a detailed consideration of alternative safeguarding measures and of the heritage ability to function in the wider sphere of people’s life.

This PhD recognises the intangible heritage roles in people’s livelihood and development practice, and related research gaps, examining the functioning of an intangible heritage-based development project, implemented in rural India. It presents the case of Purulia chhau dancers from West Bengal, nominated intangible heritage of the world in 2010, and their relations to a development project implemented between 2009 and 2011. The objective is to examine how project’s actions worked, extending the investigation to actors’ positions and uses of the intangible heritage in the practice of safeguarding through livelihood transformation.

To achieve this overall aim, this PhD employed a research design and analytical framework which comprised more than one level, based primarily on actor-network theory and on sustainable livelihood framework, through which project actors and actions are investigated. At the methodological level ethnography and document analysis were selected.

The development project provides an outstanding context for social analysis and reflection on the practice of safeguarding and that of development. It informs the manner that macro level policy of safeguarding and development, as well as heterogeneous actors’ interests, increasingly impinges upon the micro level dynamics of intangible heritage creation and management. It also offers an interesting strategic challenge to unpack the role of intangible heritage in a rural livelihoods system. This PhD shows that the concept of livelihood as an analytical approach furthers the understanding of intangible heritage and shows the limitation of previous livelihood frameworks. Overall, this thesis prompts a rethink of the boundary between intangible heritage and development with a new conceptualisation of intangible heritage as a livelihood that encapsulates the functionality of the cultural element in everyday life of the people. The analysis shows that there is a conscious process of cultural commodification, so that the commodification is not something to avoid that can only negatively impact the heritage, but something that they, the artists and the heritage, as well as other intangible heritage-networking actors (as the project actors), can benefit from it.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: heritage; Purulia chhau dance; Purulia chhau dancers; West Bengal (India)
Subjects: 700 The arts; fine & decorative arts > 790 Recreational & performing arts
Department: Guildhall School of Business and Law
Depositing User: Mary Burslem
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2019 11:02
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2019 11:02


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