Virtual Syposium-Building Connections and Forging Alliances

Registration Open!

Building Connections and Forging Alliances:

Strengthening the Intersections between Archives and Intangible Cultural Heritage

Virtual Symposium, 19 September 2023

Building Connections and Forging Alliances:
Strengthening the Intersections between Archives and Intangible Cultural Heritage
Virtual Symposium, 19 September 2023 Visit for further information and visit here,, to register.

The Canadian Advisory Committee for Memory of the World (CCMoW) is delighted to be hosting a one-day
virtual symposium of key stakeholders in intangible cultural heritage (ICH), archives, and research. Our goal is to
foster an open, collaborative conversation on the theoretical and practical issues associated with the acts of
“making, keeping, and using” ICH and the resulting documentary products, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.
For centuries, traditional Western-oriented archival practice has focused on the collection and preservation of
tangible physical documentary sources. Digital technologies have changed this dynamic, increasing opportunities
for flexibility, decentralization, and collaboration. But as tools and technologies change, the boundaries of
archival practice – and the very concept of archives – are changing. Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) lives in this
boundary area between the static and the fluid, and at the intersections of different cultures and communities.
Because instances of ICH – songs, stories, dances, customs, and traditions – are not fixed in space and time, they
are, theoretically, outside the realm of custodial control. However, the resulting documentary products –
photographs, films, audio-visual recordings, etc. – do come into archival custody. At that point, they are often
defined as static and complete – a condition that may be at odds with the inherently flexible nature of ICH.
What is the relationship between creating communities (the “makers”), archivists (the “keepers”), and researchers
and the public (the “users”)? How can archivists, who preserve the tangible, safeguard something that is, by
definition, intangible? What do the creators and owners of ICH gain or lose when their sources of custom and
culture are fixed in time and space? What are the rights and obligations of researchers using ICH?
The symposium will consider these and other questions, including presentations and participation from leading
thinkers and practitioners on the following themes:
(1) Concepts and theories: What is intangible cultural heritage? What is its value to “makers” or
owners? What is the role of archivists ( “keepers”) in the preservation of the documentary products
of ICH? How do researchers ( “users”) understand and use ICH and related archives? What are the
gaps, overlaps, or intersections across these different perspectives?
(2) Applications and practices: Who is or should be collecting ICH? How do existing practices – e.g.,
acquisition, preservation, access – support or hinder the care and use of ICH and archives? What
cultural, legal, and practical challenges enhance or limit the making, keeping, or using of ICH and
(3) Intersections and connections: How can ICH and related archives be understood not just as
“source material” but as evidence of individual and community culture and identity? How can
“makers,” “keepers,” and “users” work together to strengthen relationships and achieve sustainable
outcomes? Where do we converge or diverge? How can we build connections and forge alliances?
The symposium is supported by The Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO), which oversees the
Memory of the World Committee, and has received financial support from the Programme Commission of
International Council on Archives (ICA PCOM), Heritage Saskatchewan, and Western University.
We encourage you to “save the date” for 19 September 2023. Visit further announcements will be shared on social media, including on Twitter at @CCUNESCO,
@ICArchiv, and @MillarLaura.