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Session 3: How can we use cultural mapping to preserve and promote cultural heritage, reinforce indigenous/local knowledge, affirm dignity and strengthen community control over cultural resources?

1. "The Village India": Identification and Enhancement of India's Cultural Heritage


From UNESCO New Delhi, Mr. Prithi Perera introduced the Village India project of the Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts. The project involves the study of 87 villages in India and identification of these villages as: artist villages, shrine villages, and epic villages. As an individual entity and a world heritage in itself, the village is seen as an entry point for understanding India's cultural heritage where life of the people evolves. The speaker described the quintessential features of an intangible cultural heritage in India such as the settlement and cropping patterns, susbsistence activities, dress and ornaments, traditional technology, and arts and crafts. The objectives of the project are to: explore the frontiers of the sacred science of man; develop a new theory and research tools; and improve understanding of the village.


2. "Cham Heritage Mapping in Vietnam"

The Cham heritage mapping in Vietnam is a recent initiative supported by the local and national government of Vietnam and facilitated by UNESCO. Although the Cham people have religiously kept their traditions and intangible cultural heritage expressions, there are no exhaustive maps of the Shan structures and sites known to exist. Thus, GIS experts, local Chams and government officials, and other key partners will be mobilized in the implementation of the pilot projects on Cham heritage mapping. The aims of the project are to: develop good models for community participation; improve capacity and management of heritage; strengthen identity; encourage dialogue; and make the locals aware of the importance of their culture. Advice regarding the project's methodology is currently solicited.


3. "Temporal Vulnerability Mapping in Myanmar"

UNESCO has initiated the exploration of concepts of "temporal geographics" and a "perpetual calendar" to map interstitial populations, their movements, motives and activities in time and space.


Mapping for specific periods of time with attention to dominate movement of populations allows for strategic interventions – in the field of HIV/AIDS for instance - to take best advantage of either the availability/receptivity, or of the circumstances of heightened risk exposure by beneficiary groups and individuals in specific interventions. Knowing the patterns of these movements across geographic terrain over specific periods of time allows a far more efficient targeting and coordination of resources.


A "Perpetual Calendar" is therefore a revolving calendar list of all important dates, holidays, national celebrations, religious and spiritual events, and major and cyclical economic events of their local economies. Some dates are fixed, some are based on lunar calculations and others by season, but all can be generally mapped once localized dates or periods are known. In this concept, this data becomes a way of mapping a Cultural Geography with periods of high and low mobility of key populations. More importantly, we are able to clearly indicate where priority risk groups or circumstances are and when they are most likely to be active. Moreover, networks of individuals common to multiple events can be more readily identified either as recipients or as potential peer educators and more.


Obviously, the basic perpetual calendar list is then expanded with area, project and people specific data from field-based projects, ethnographic research and mobility pattern studies. Substantial amounts of general population, village distribution and educational data are already in place. 


As a pilot project, a database for vulnerable populations based on Myanmar festivals was developed. A demo programme will be available soon on this website for public exploration.

For more information, visit our Trafficking and HIV/AIDS project webpage.