Key-note lecture: Subsidiarity, policy making & trans-boundaries networking The scales and the imps

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference


Subsidiarity, policy making & trans-boundaries networking. The scales and the imps (Marc Jacobs, FARO & VUB) Cautionary tales about heritage of Lincoln Cathedral -not only the monument itself and its 1215 copy of the Magna Carta, but also their two imps, (one turned into stone and one on the loose)- are used to introduce different heritage paradigms, the notion of subsidiarity and the potential and dangers of safeguarding phenomena as intangible cultural heritage, within the framework of the 2003 UNESCO Convention. An analytical subsidiarity framework can help to decode and explain the evolving heritage policies on different levels in European countries in the 21st century, even in special cases like Flanders/Belgium. In a path-breaking article on Heritage and Scale: settings, boundaries and relations (2015, DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2014.955812), David Harvey pleaded to devote more attention in critical heritage studies to the effects of dealing with varieties of scales and levels. Scales can not only be understood as a category of analysis but also as a category of practice, e.g. in the process of negotiating subsidiarity or implementing a UNESCO Convention. My own experiences with appropriating and studying the Basic Texts (BT) of the 2003 UNESCO Convention have resulted in a number of sensitising proposals (in other publications) that are related to these scalar challenges, ranging from the proposal to introduce the notion of CGIs, to reshuffle the Ethical Principles (BT, p. 113-114) in order to see the tensions and negotiations between interventions and relative autonomy (of CGIs), to recognize (as in OD 170 and 171, BT p. 64-65)) the crucial role of cultural brokers, mediators and stakeholders’ participation, to use the conceptual apparatus of “boundary objects”, “boundary spanners” and “trans-boundary networking” and to tweak and develop the Faro-concept of “heritage communities” to involve museums. In a recent publication (DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2019.1590445) on the submission process of alpinism to the representative UNESCO list of ICH (expected in 2019), Bernard Debarbieux and Hervé Munz showed the importance of scalar negotiations in Switzerland. When thinking about the role that “Europe”/European institutions might play, not only the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society (CETS No. 199, “Faro Convention” or its Resolution 2269 (2019)” Safeguarding and enhancing intangible cultural heritage in Europe” (, but, in particular since the Lisbon Treaty is in force (2009) and challenged (EYCH2018), also the European Union, thanks to Article 5(3) and Protocol (No 2), could become more relevant. Will European institutions and policies, including those related to museums, be able to not just freeze and exploit ICH ‘Lincoln style’, but also to let an imp live? Will all ICH/imps have to be tamed and civilised? David Harvey not only discussed how museums can deal with scales and identity, but also what the ambivalent effects of discourses on the “local community” can be. New sensitizing proposals and debates about what could be done with difficult imps, e.g. in IMP, are needed, as ethical issues in our scale-jumping (social) media networks pop up.
Period7 May 2019
Event titleIMP Conference (Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums)
Culltural Policies
Event typeConference
LocationMechelen, Belgium
Degree of RecognitionInternational