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Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Rockefeller Foundation
Humanities Fellowships

Theorizing Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage is today a rubric of ever-expanding scope. It is used globally as a basis for multinational, national, state, and local programs and governance. Cultural heritage is also the focus of ideas and programs generated by hundreds of non-governmental organizations, community-based and advocacy groups, and even businesses. Yet the concept of "cultural heritage" is vastly under-theorized. It has lacked an academic, disciplinary base; has generated only an attenuated theoretical literature; and has generally left the bearers of cultural heritage out of the discussion.

Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Fellows at the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage have helped refine the theoretical framework for cultural heritage and expanded it to include grassroots voices. Reflecting the perspectives of academic specialists, civil society groups, and public cultural organizations, fellows' work informs dialogues and practice across social, political, and disciplinary boundaries, as well as indicating future directions for policy.

The Smithsonian hosted six to eight fellows for each of three years to work on the theoretical development of the concept of cultural heritage. Fellows examined the relationship between cultural heritage and political representation (2004-05) and the economics of cultural heritage (2005-06); the third year of the program (2006-07) concentrated on the arts. The fellows were humanities-oriented thinkers and practitioners engaged in the work of academic institutions, public organizations, and cultural communities.

The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage—where cultural heritage is the subject of ongoing, daily intellectual and practical activity—hosted the fellows. Given the Center's location in Washington, D.C., and its strong connections to international and national institutions, service organizations, and nongovernmental and community groups, fellows enjoyed a rich environment and found colleagues and cultural policymakers deeply interested in their work.

2004 - 2005 Rockefeller Humanities Fellows

Robert Albro

John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress and Dept. of Anthropology, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
Citizen Semantics: Intangible Cultural Heritage and Human Rights among South American Indigenous Activists

Jane Anderson

Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies,
Canberra, Australia
The Production of Intangible Cultural Heritage as Property

Lesley Fordred-Green

Department of Social Anthropology,
University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Rethinking Cartography in Cultural Heritage Practice: Towards an Archive of Palikur Narrative

Christina Kreps

Department of Anthropology,
University of Denver, Denver, Colorado
Theorizing UNESCO and Approaches to Cultural Heritage Preservation

Lillian Manzor

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures,
University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida
Performances in Greater Cuba: Cultural Citizenship Formation since 1990

Josiah Mhute

National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe
Heritage, Communities and Power: Politics of Representation in Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe

Sita Reddy

Senior Consulting Historian,
National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland
Of Gods and Governments: Indian Cultural Heritage Disputes from the Nataraja to the Neem Tree

2005-2006 Rockefeller Humanities Fellows

Bernard L. Bakaye

Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development,
Kampala, Uganda
Enhancing Community Participation in the Preservation, Promotion, and Development of Cultural Heritage for Poverty Eradication

Gary Burns

Department of Communication,
Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
Sound Recordings as Cultural Heritage: Audio, History, and Cultural Property

Julie Chenot

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
Washington, D.C. (Paris, France)
Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Challenges of Its Economic Dimensions in Developing Countries and the Case of Khmer Classical Dance

Sharon C. Clarke

Resourceful Communities Program, The Conservation Fund,
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
From Cultural Values to Economic Prosperity: Creating Theories of Cultural Heritage to Transform Policymaking in Traditional Communities

Susan Keitumetse

Department of Archaeology,
University of Cambridge (Gaborone, Botswana)
International Conventions and the Concept of "Community" in Cultural Heritage Management: The Indigenous Ideology and Community Tourism in Southern Africa

Mary Kenny

Department of Anthropology,
Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, Connecticut
The Economics of Resgate Cultura (Cultural Rescue) in Northeast Brazil

Laurajane Smith

Department of Archaeology,
University of York
Deindustrialization, Heritage, and Social Memory

Amy Winston

Lincoln County Economic Development Office,
Wicasset, Maine
Cultural Heritage and Economic Development Strategies: An Ethnographic Approach