Living traditions: registering and fostering traditional building craftsmanship in Brazil

30 minutes
To foster the "intangible cultural heritage"\- the living cultural practices, expressions and knowledge systems that provide meaning to communities - the UNESCO's Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage requests each State to identify and define intangible cultural heritage present on its territory with the participation of communities, groups and NGOs, as well as to draw up, and regularly update, inventories of the intangible cultural heritage. To meet this requirement, the IPHAN, the Brazilian federal heritage agency, in collaboration with the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), has been developing since 2010 an ambitious project called "Mestres Artífices" ("Master Craftsmen") which intends to document the traditional building techniques of Brazilian architecture, while identifying the so-called "master craftsmen", individuals that are the holders of this traditional knowledge. For this, we are using the "National Inventory of Cultural References", a research methodology developed by IPHAN, which aims to "to produce knowledge about the areas of social life to which individuals assign meanings and values, and that constitute, therefore, the milestones and identity references to any particular social group". This paper aims to explore the question of the registration and preservation of traditional building techniques, using as a case study the experience of the implementation of this project in Brazil, which has already conducted the systematic inventory of some states, and now begins the discussion on alternatives for the preservation of this know-how, considering, among others, the accreditation and certification of the holders of traditional knowledge.