Croatian Intangible Cultural Heritage, Social Identities and Values (CroICHSIV)

2012-1-1/2014-12-31 Croatian Science Foundation, Research Project,
Theme: Values and Identities (Social and Human Sciences)

Principal researcher: Tvrtko Zebec PhD
Associates: Lidija Bajuk, Melanija Belaj PhD, Marina Blagaić, Joško Ćaleta PhD, Ivana Katarinčić PhD, Koraljka Kuzman Šlogar PhD, Grozdana Marošević PhD, Irena Miholić PhD, Iva Niemčić PhD, Iva Pleše PhD, Ana-Marija Vukušić PhD, Antonija Zaradija Kiš PhD

Project summary

The project Croatian Intangible Cultural Heritage, Social Identities and Values addresses intangible cultural heritage as a new conceptual framework for the ethnological-folkloristic and anthropological rethinking of the Croatian traditions and plurality of identities. The aim of the project is to promote research, scientific, documentary and advisory competencies which can be used in wider social and cultural environment. By establishing, within the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, a Referral Centre for Intangible Culture, one of the goals of the project is to affirm the Institute as an international centre of excellence in the area of intangible heritage. The project will support local communities to make their heritage recognizable and exchangeable (especially through cultural tourism), help to develop an innovative capacity-building partnership, assist local communities to document their own cultural traditions, archive this heritage for future generations, and safeguard their interests in authorizing use of their recordings and traditions by third parties. The project is in preparation for the new European project which will connect institutions with collections of data on heritage and other partners with an interest in innovation and promotion of cultural heritage as cultural products in tourism and other forms of regional development. The direct practical value of the project is to save insights, documents and studies on heritage into specialized heritage data bases and to keep a wide circle of users within local communities and outside of them (creators of cultural politics, amateur performers and collectors, tourism professionals, employees of museums and archives, lawyers, students and heritage bearers) informed about the possibilities for revitalizing, safeguarding and branding heritage and about its protection from insensitive commercialization and possible misuse.

The project will investigate three levels of the contemporary structure of heritage production:

Managing Heritage in situ

Heritage listed in national and UNESCO registers will be documented. Case studies will investigate local concepts of heritage and feedback on the safeguarding, commercial and tourist usage of heritage, the interdependence of tangible and intangible heritage, issues of intellectual property rights, transnational cultural expressions and borderlines of heritage and the transfer of knowledge and know-how to younger generations.

Representing Heritage Values

Present research projects on heritage in ethnology and folklore research and their fundamental methodological standpoints (narrator, researcher, fieldwork) and topics observed (tradition, heritage, culture) will be reevaluated. New ways of presenting heritage will be devised, the network of bearers and knowledge holders of heritage will be maintained in the national registry, and specialized data bases and multimedia banks of collected material will be made available on web pages of the Institute and cooperating local cultural associations.

The Relationship between Heritage, Identity and Community will be reconsidered according to theories of interdependence. Community is constituted through heritage and heritage is the foundation upon which identities, through performance, are realized. Such dynamism will be researched in the context of the processes of globalization and (multi)culturalization with regard to ethnic, gender, age and class identities, under the assumption that the production of heritage helps to overcome social tensions by promoting cultural diversity, intercultural communication and universal human values.

Benefits and usefulness for achieving progress in research in Croatia: The scientific contribution and movement towards innovation and excellence in methodology and theory close the circle between science and its beneficiaries. The first phase of research, from fieldwork, data collection and processing and interpretation, is followed by mediating, applying and transferring that knowledge. Later, experts in the field may contribute as consultants to firms in cultural tourism and with small businesses; they may connect with all interested stakeholders, see the effects of their insights that got applied and check the feedback of their work in the places of their fieldwork research and in the local and wider community. The benefit of the project for the wider community is precisely to connect scientists from the public Institute to organizations from the economy, including small businesses (especially in tourism), the goal being the transfer of knowledge and popularizing cultural heritage so that it can be utilized in the sustainable regional development of local communities and preservation of their traditions, especially their intangible cultural heritage.

The competence of the team is reflected in the profile of the researchers and in various disciplines and topics: ethnomusicology and ethnochoreology (anthropology of dance and music, vocal pedagogy, traditional instruments and musical pedagogy, sung round dances, sword dances and historical dances, intertwining and interdependence of dance forms), folklore research and ethnology/cultural anthropology (cult of saints, Glagolitic heritage, animal studies, nutrition, cultural tourism, media studies, culture of memory, urban migrations), documentation processing, database creation and digitization. Teamwork, exchange of experiences, knowledge and skills, a system of mentoring and constant monitoring of quality are performed during in-house meetings and discussions which also stimulate interdisciplinarity, critical research and the conjunction of methods and theories of various disciplines whose boundaries have become more fluid and less pronounced in the contemporary scientific context. The bibliographies of associates affirm and attest to their competencies. In addition, we can add the successful scientific processing of the intangible cultural practices entered to the national lists and to UNESCO’s lists, to which Croatia is a leader in the European context, and along with China, Korea and Japan, is at the top by the number of items registered. The team’s work has also been met by participation at numerous regional and international workshops for capacity building of local communities and experts.

Referral Centre for Intangible Culture 

By establishing the Referral Centre for the Intangible Culture, the Institute would affirm itself as a centre of excellence in the national and international context, and the associates of the project, because of the expert knowledge and interdisciplinarity of the research approach, would be affirmed as social arbiters who not only promote new trends in research and its application in safeguarding heritage but also offer advice on the shortcomings and contradictions of the Convention itself, and in sustainable regional development through promotion of cultural heritage.

One of the goals of this project is to affirm Institute as an international centre of excellence in the area of intangible cultural heritage. This presupposes the technical development of the Institute’s documentation centre, which will involve the digitization of documentation and the establishment of a network interface and a virtual repository of heterogeneous materials of intangible heritage, with the support of the European or regional project in the area FP7 of ICT – Information and Communication Technologies, as well as in the Europeana Connect project. The initial funds for this project will facilitate the drafting of the concept for such a future European projects and cooperation. In addition, the Centre will enable access to the data bases of other similar institutions in the country, region, and Europe. See: IEF Digital Repository

Virtual exhibitions

About Traditional Croatian Music of Međimurje and around it

Photo Album of Folk Costumes by Franz Thiard de Laforest (1938-1911)


Sword dances

The Mediterranean Diet

28th Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Ethnochoreology, 7-17 July 2014, Korčula, Croatia