The UNESCO Effect, Part II: Local Practice and the Power of Metacultural Categories


Michael  Dylan  Foster (University of California, Davis)

“Raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes” is a Japanese element inscribed in 2018 on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Although inscribed as one element, “Raiho-shin” is actually an umbrella category for ten individual traditions performed throughout Japan. In this presentation, I explore how this metacultural category has had very real effects on the local practice of one member of this group, “Oga no Namahage” of Akita Prefecture, in which several small communities have been inspired to revitalize their version of the tradition. I contrast this to another tradition, also included on the list, that has had a very different reaction to being grouped in this fashion.

Part of 12-01 Heritage Studies and Folkloristics, Part I: Heritagization, Folklore Studies, and Transformations of Traditions, Monday, October 18, 11:15 am–12:45 pm