Sacred Heritage in Japan

30 November – 1 December 2017 IKOS, UiO hosts an Open workshop on Sacred Heritage in Japan.

At the workshop I will present a paper entitled “An introduction to multilateral heritage politics: Japan on the World Heritage Committee”

Abstract: This paper provides an introduction to the field of multilateral heritage politics, using UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention as a case. Over the last 40+ years the convention has become one of the most ratified conventions in the UN family with 193 signatories and nearly 1100 World Heritage Sites in 167 countries around the world. In the paper I focus attention on the 21 member strong governing body of the convention, the World Heritage Committee. First an overview over its composition and working relations to other central bodies of the convention will be given. This will form a backdrop for summarizing key themes and approaches identified and used in the growing interdisciplinary research literature on the committee. While a latecomer to the convention, Japan has become an active player on the committee, having sat on the committee for three periods (1993-1997, 2003-2007 and 2011-2015). Using the general themes identified through the research literature, I will briefly explore Japan’s tenure on the committee and how it fits into the developments of the committee writ large. The final part the presentation will draw attention to how Japan has negotiated its heritage and history through its nominations of contentious sites such as “Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining” listed in 2015.

More about the workshop:  

“Japan has a long history of national heritage policies. Today Japan is a significant and active participant in the The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) programmes of World Heritage or Intangible Cultural Heritage. Many of Japan’s World Heritage Sites and Intangible Cultural Heritage practices also have religious status. This workshop investigates the impact of the heritagization on religious sites and practices in Japan that have recently been listed by UNESCO.  Through concrete case studies, we hope to develop new perspectives on issues of signification and authority that arise when the secular logic of cultural heritage is applied to religious sites and/or practices.” Read more and see full program and join the workshop by 17 November.

Photo of Sēfa Utaki, a World Heritage Site and sacred grove in Okinawa, taken by Aike P. Rots.