Globalization and Traditional Cultures
Faced with the challenges of globalization, traditional cultural values and customs tend to disappear. That is why the role of institutions cultivating them, studying changes and informing the world about them, is of paramount importance. This issue of Culturelink presents a number of such institutions and related events.
The first such institution is the International Council of Organizations for Folklore Festivals and Folk Art (CIOFF), which is active within UNESCO's framework. The task of the Council is to promote intangible heritage through such forms of expression as dance, music, costumes and other arts, and - which is especially important - to support the transmission of traditional culture to children. Another institution, the European Heritage Network, covers architectural and archaeological heritage, but its future plans provide for the inclusion of intangible heritage as well. The European Network of Traditional Music and Dance is concerned with the values and preservation of traditional culture. All of these institutions make an effort to facilitate access to cultural heritage and inform the public about it through new information technologies. One of the seminars and workshops presented in this issue, organized by the Amsterdam Maastricht Summer University, is devoted to Digital Cultural Heritage.
An interesting survey of traditional community music and dance, carried out by Arcade, France, demonstrates that the study of traditional music and dance practices makes it possible, on the one hand, to observe the degree of integration, assimilation, or, conversely, of identity-based resistance to assimilation of certain communities; on the other hand, such study enables us to observe the emergence of new forms of cultural expression that link, cross over or fuse with regional heritage - traditional music and dance. A book with the indubitable title of Safeguarding Traditional Cultures is also presented in this issue. It analyses traditional cultures from different perspectives and recommends measures to develop adequate education and training schemes for members of traditional communities in understanding, preserving and protecting traditional culture and folklore. The book entitled Preserving Our Heritage, published by the Washington Center for Arts and Culture, highlights the efforts to preserve traditional cultural values in contemporary societies.
The dossier in this issue is devoted to the Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa (OCPA), a project debated at a series of conferences and meetings within the framework of UNESCO and the OAU, especially in the wake of the Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development, held in Stockholm in 1998. The Observatory is envisaged as a resource centre and regional coordinating and monitoring body serving a network of experts and institutions involved in policy and decision making, cultural administration and management, as well as research, training and information. The establishment of the Observatory is a priority need, not only for the preservation and development of cultural life in Africa, but also for improving the cultural relevance of development efforts in general.
Fully appreciating the great importance of this project, Culturelink has from the very beginning supported the efforts for the setting up of the OCPA. The operation of the experimental OCPA website has been entrusted to the Culturelink Network. With its background, practical skill and experience in the field, Culturelink is in a good position to continue to cooperate with the Observatory beyond the level of researching, monitoring, collecting and disseminating up-to-date policy-relevant knowledge and information via the Internet, and to extend its effort to the overall development of the Observatory and its activities.