by Curlan Campbell
- Grenada adopted 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009
- Grenada National Trust is to undergo a community-based inventory of Grenada’s Intangible Cultural Heritage
- Two workshops completed; Next round of workshops to be held in July
The Grenada National Trust (GNT) is to undergo a community-based inventory of Grenada’s Intangible Cultural Heritage which faces imminent loss due to globalisation and social transformation.
Through the implementation of a UNESCO project ‘Proud of My Heritage: Transmission and Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Grenada’ inventorying and education initiatives, the GNT was able to impart invaluable knowledge to participants in a 2-part workshop. The first workshop placed focused on the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural and its provisions, while the second workshop which concluded on Friday, 8 April 2022, focused on various methodologies to conduct a community-based inventory of living heritage elements. The training was facilitated by senior facilitator for UNESCO, Nigel Encalada, who has served as UNESCO’s facilitator for various other countries, including St Kitts and Nevis, Suriname and Sint Maarten.
Speaking of the importance of the inventory process, Encalada stated that inventory is one of the most effective tools for Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) safeguarding. He said through the inventory process, communities in Grenada can better know, identify, and define the main elements that make up their rich heritage. Referring to article 12 of the convention, which identifies inventory as pivotal to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, Encalada said, “Having your community groups and individuals go out into the community and document aspects of living heritage in Grenada. This means meeting with the practitioners, knowledge bearers making a profile of who they are as individuals and their practice, and what are the ways and processes involved in the practice of a particular living culture like Shortknee for instance. Where did it come from, how is it practiced today and so you develop a full profile of it, so that you understand it more in-depth… the idea is that you would look at that intangible cultural heritage which is endangered and then decide in the communities if these are things that they want to safeguard.”
The 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, adopted by Grenada in 2009, establishes that living heritage is composed of oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, and knowledge and skills linked to traditional crafts, among other elements that the bearer community identifies as an important part of its cultural identity. These are important elements for strengthening the social fabric and for achieving the Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Encalada said the systematisation of this traditional knowledge can contribute to its transmission to a new generation, while the knowledge documented can contribute to an awareness of the importance of the intangible heritage for the community directly involved.
During the last week’s workshops, participants were engaged in carrying out research, field documentation by way of filming and photography, developing questionnaires and conducting interviews with cultural practitioners.
Encalada was particularly pleased with the use of technology by the participants in the documentation process since it provides the means of documenting, recovering and presenting aspects of cultural heritage. “The information collected gets loaded on a cloud that is managed by the Grenada National Trust and then, later on, they will be able to bring all the information on particular elements in Grenada together. This will allow you to have information for the future and it is one of the pioneering areas from the Grenadian context, because I understand that there are concerns about a national library system, national archives and so on, so in the absence of that, this project also will facilitate the collection of information now in a centralised and accessible way using technology.”
The Grenada National Trust is preparing to start the next round of workshops in July. These capacity-building workshops scheduled to be held at the Grace Lutheran School will increase the knowledge of educators about the living heritage in Grenada by using a heritage resource guide, and by implementing the Proud of My Heritage Education Programme for Grades 5 and 6.