Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sites for sore eyes

Once upon a rather long time ago I wanted to grow up and work for UNESCO. (Then President Reagan withdrew US funding for it, and I had to make other plans!) UNESCO's back on my radar because of the World Heritage Site list. One of my New School colleagues has written a fascinating account of the ambiguities of what he calls "hybrid heritage" - sites which have both cultural and natural significance - and he's just joined the team for our continuing work on religion and environment in the Himalaya. The focus of the new phase, you'll recall, is Mount Kailash - for which a World Heritage status is apparently soon to be requested and will doubtless be conferred. I need to learn more about the issues! But today I heard a rumor that UNESCO heritage listing was being sought for temple fairs like the one I recently had the chance to attend in Jinze. "Living heritage" is another frought and fascinating category, and its interaction with Chinese government categories of valuable folk tradition (not religion, mind you) is intriguing too. Fun fun!

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