Theme issue Volkskunde: 'Transforming, Not Saving. Intangible Cultural Heritage, Museums and/or the World’


Workshop intangible heritage and the UNESCO Chair on critical heritage studies and safeguarding the intangible cultural heritage of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel guest-edited a special issue of the academic journal Volkskunde: ‘Transforming, Not Saving. Intangible Cultural Heritage, Museums and/or the World’ (2020). This scholarly product contributes to the growing dynamics and recent developments around safeguarding intangible cultural heritage together with museums. A download of the entire publication is available at the bottom of this page. 

The special issue came about in the wake of the international Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project (IMP), that ran from 2017 to 2020. IMP gathered museum and intangible heritage networks transnationally, and mobilised researchers linked to universities and other heritage experts.

Earlier in 2020, the actors from the IMP project published the book ‘Museums and intangible cultural heritage. Towards a third space in the heritage sector’, which focuses on the many interfaces between the world of museums and that of intangible heritage. In addition, the project partners compiled an online toolkit, containing practical tips and instruments for the heritage sector. However, given the multitude of valuable insights generated by the IMP project not yet published, the idea arose for an additional publication: the Volkskunde special issue. 

Several researchers and experts involved in the project picked up their pen again. They bring theoretical-conceptual reflections, pieces that frame the relationship between intangible heritage (communities) and museums, and (inter)national case-studies focusing on safeguarding intangible heritage together with museums and heritage communities. 

Along with the IMP book and Workshop intangible heritage’s contribution to the International Journal of Intangible Heritage Studies, this special issue places the debate on museums and safeguarding intangible cultural heritage high on the agenda of museology, anthropology, folklore studies, critical heritage studies and other transdisciplines.

The special issue was launched on the occasion of the fifth biennial conference of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS) in August 2020.