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10.00  After Five Years as Intangible Cultural Heritage: What Has Changed for the Pirekua?

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9:00, Mardi 7 Juin 2016 (30 minutes)

This paper will analyze the relationship established between intangible cultural heritage and tourism, a relationship strengthened through UNESCO nominations. It will focus on the pirekua, the traditional song of the Purepecha people (situated in western Mexico), declared Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010. This nomination generated conflict between pireris (pirekua singers), musicians and composers on the one hand, and on the other hand, the governmental institutions who promoted the nomination before the UNESCO. Conflict arose because the Purepecha were not consulted by government institutions and because the initiative and nomination files were elaborated by the Tourism Secretary of the state of Michoacan. One of the purposes of this paper is to analyze the relationship established between cultural heritage and processes of touristification. 

Specifically I will describe the differences between the way pirekuas are interpreted within community contexts and tourist contexts. What changes can be observed? What power relationships are manifested in these different contexts? In this sense the paper is related to the panel’s theme because it proposes to analyze the effects of the 2003 Convention in the local and community environments of pireris and pirekuas from a critical perspective. It will emphasize the social processes strengthened as a result of the nomination. My interest in contributing to the development of a critical perspective of cultural heritage, specifically in Mexico, results from the fact that the culture and cultural practices of indigenous populations present themselves as a new area of conflict and social, economic, and political inequality. This is in the face of governmental institutions and tourist companies, who seek through the category of cultural heritage and the UNESCO nominations to hide, once more, the dispossession and mercantilization of the culture of indigenous communities, with little or no tangible benefit for them.

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