Saturday, December 04, 2010

American Candidates for the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List

Nicholas DeRenzo, noting that no aspects of American cultural heritage have yet been added to the UNESCO list of Representative Intangible Cultural Heritage elements, suggests the following candidates:

  • Baseball
  • Pacific Northwest totem poles
  • The Halloween tradition—trick-or-treating and pumpkin carving
  • Jazz and/or blues music
  • The Thanksgiving feast—turkey and all the fixings
  • Break dancing
  • Amish barn raising
  • Outlandish Christmas light displays
  • Cowboy poetry
  • Cajun cuisine
Comment: In the area of sport, Baseball does seem the obvious candidate. In music and dance there would seem to be many alternatives in addition to those Mr. DiRenzo has put forward, such as Dixieland, the American popular song, Rock and Roll, and Hip-Hop. So too there are numerous Native American traditions that could be proposed such as the Pow Wow or Navajo weaving. There are other cuisines that might be considered such as Tex-Mex, or specific dishes (Maryland crab cakes, New England clam chowder, Buffalo wings) not to mention the fast-food franchise hamburger, fries and milk shake. The community non-profit organization or the charitable foundation also are typically American.

John Daly
The comment represents my personal opinions and not that of Americans for UNESCO.


John Daly said...

At this time, the United States is not a signatory of the Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage. Thus it does not now submit items to be considered for addition to the lists maintained by UNESCO under the Convention. Were this country to ratify the Convention, the Government would be expected under its terms to create a list of representative aspects of American culture. Think about how difficult it would be to do so well!

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