Heritage Kinaesthetics: Local Constructivism and UNESCO's Intangible-Tangible Politics at a Favela Museum
- Anthropological Quarterly
- George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research
- Volume 82, Number 2, Spring 2009
- pp. 547-585
- View Citation
- Additional Information
In Providencia, Rio de Janeiro's oldest favela (shantytown), the Municipality created the "Open-Air/Living Museum" to celebrate its history and link it to a larger infrastructure development project, within the agenda of Brazilian cultural policy to implement UNESCO's global recommendations on safeguarding local intangible heritage world-wide. How do local interpretations of cultural heritage affirm, modify, or enrich the institutional (municipality, state, and UNESCO) policies on tangible and intangible heritage? And how does tourism connect to the imagining of community cultural revival?
I develop the concept of heritage kinaesthetics as the moving bodily practices that people imagine and enact to enliven the built environment's static aesthetic looks, or the immobile quality usually ascribed to historic sites. The five main heritage kinaesthetics practiced by residents and visitors include: visual (photographing; seeing vs looking), ambulatory (walking around as exploration), performative (enacting intangible cultural heritage such as samba, capoeira, football, and music; tour guides' performances), oral (telling stories/imagining history), and acoustic (re-creating place-specific sounds). Local heritage kinaesthetics practices are placed within the larger context of Brazilian and internationally UNESCO's cultural policy on heritage safeguarding conceptualized to enhance community quality of life.