MaryJo Benton Lee
Program Types: Speakers Bureau
Adjunct Assistant Professor
South Dakota State University/School of Psychology, Sociology and Rural Studies
email@example.com | (605) 692-8252
Intangible Cultural Heritage: Maintaining Diversity in the Face of Globalization
What do the Great Wall of China and the Great Smoky Mountains have in common? Both are among the top four most visited World Heritage Sites, as designated by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). In 1972 UNESCO started compiling a list of cultural and natural sites around the world, deemed as being of “outstanding universal value.” Thirty years later UNESCO began a new list, this one of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) items. The ICH list better recognizes developing countries’ cultures and challenges Western-centric heritage values. China has been the country that has most enthusiastically embraced ICH, with 518 items on its official list. Lee is a sociologist and a member of an international research team that has been studying ICH among China’s 55 ethnic minority groups for the past three years. She will discuss ICH generally and then focus on two particular ICH items in some detail. These are the Poya Songbook of the Zhuang and the traditional embroidery of the Sani Yi. The role that heritage preservation can play in bringing about economic development and poverty alleviation also will be highlighted.