Can intangibles be tangible? : safeguarding intangible heritage in the new South Africa : towards formulating policy for the conservation and sustainable management for living heritage

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University of Cape Town

This dissertation takes its lead from ongoing research associated with the process of formulating policy and developing instruments for safeguarding living heritage or intangible heritage as it is commonly known. In the absence of a national policy and management guidelines for the conservation and sustainable management of living heritage, the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) has initiated a process of formulating minimum standards and guidelines for the· protection of intangible elements of heritage associated with tangible heritage resources (objects and sites). In terms of the National Heritage Resources Act (NHRA) of 1999, SAHRA has a mandate to manage heritage resources to which oral tradition or living heritage is attached. Being the designated head of the living heritage unit at SAHRA, I have the responsibility to ensure the proper conservation and management of living heritage. As such I have been charged with a number of key responsibilities such as formulating policy and developing management guidelines for living heritage. As part of the process toward developing policy, a major facet of this research project reviews and draws a comparative analysis of existing heritage legislation, legal instruments and best practices in the world that may be useful in the South African context. Drawing from the review and comparative study process, this dissertation also seeks to identify and define key management issues for safeguarding aspects of intangible heritage. The outcome of the literature review stimulates a critical discussion about the findings which explore the challenges and opportunities related to the strengths and weakness of existing heritage policies and management guidelines for the protection of intangible elements of heritage resources. This eventually informs the conclusion and recommendations which provides not only a summary of closing remarks but also suggests a way forward regarding appropriate measures to be adopted for safeguarding living heritage. In this way, this project takes the form of research and policy recommendations, premised on a real-world situation in which I am personally responsible for guiding national policy on the issue at stake.

Includes bibliographical references (pages 115-131).