THALEA STOKES : Whose Throat-Singing? UNESCO Awarding Khoomei as a Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage

pdf

Whose Throat-Singing? UNESCO Awarding Khoomei as a Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage

Thalea Stokes
Thalea Stokes
Academia.edu

Whose Throat-Singing? UNESCO Awarding Khoomei as a Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage

Thalea StokesApril 18, 2015MIDSEM Annual Meeting 2015Urbana, IL
nations must go through an even lengthier, more costly, and more scrupulous application process to inscribe cultural artifacts. While it is admirable that UNESCO recognized a problem and took steps to solve it as it relates to cultural appropriation, the damage had already been done in a certain sense. The
Khoomei 
 dispute, unwittingly instigated by UNESCO, exacerbated age-old ÒChina as imperialistÓ sentiments among the Mongolian citizenry that have long held this mistrust, even despite the Mongolia-China normalization process. The question remains as to whether UNESCO awards cultural artifacts to nations based on origination, or who is best able to preserve said artifacts, the latter certainly being the preferred viewpoint of Chinese ofÞcials. Is it truly possible for an international organization to impartially award legitimacy of claim when it comes to cultural artifacts? What does it say when an NGO such as UNESCO, by nature of their actions, seems to play into narratives of predatory and neo-imperialist behavior? The fact that UNESCO has successfully researched, promoted, educated, and preserved many cultural artifacts in danger of being lost should not be understated. However, this controversy of the
Khoomei 
 dispute points to a larger problem of Western-based institutions dictating the terms of cultural ownership to the world without sufÞcient input from and agency of those actors who directly experience the culture in question.
Conclusion
When UNESCO awarded China the inscription of
Khoomei 
 as a Chinese intangible cultural artifact, it caused a minor disruption in peaceful ongoing negotiations between the two states but a major disruption among the people affected by the decision. The awarding was essentially seen as an affront to Mongolian identity, just another example of Chinese appropriation of Mongolian culture. ChinaÕs motivations for laying claim to Mongolian, and other minority cultural artifacts, lie in its aim to present a wholly uniÞed China to the world. It also increases the prestige of Chinese history, and gives the nation opportunity to further ÒmanageÓ its minority ethnic groups. Mongolia, a nation lacking the capital and inßuence of its southern
10
Thalea StokesApril 18, 2015MIDSEM Annual Meeting 2015Urbana, IL
neighbor, has great incentive to promote and preserve its cultural artifacts in order to be considered a major player on the world stage. When these cultural artifacts are presented to the world through the auspices of these nation-states, however, the voices of the people often become overshadowed by national and global interests. The preservation of these cultural artifacts might be better served through heavier mediation by and attention given to the lived experiences of the people involved rather than claims made by states. That is, these cultural artifacts, rather than existing as museum pieces that serve as indicators of entire nations, should be rejoined with the people who largely created and actively maintain them, and presented as inseparable elements of a larger, more informed, and more accurate cultural whole.
 
11
Thalea StokesApril 18, 2015MIDSEM Annual Meeting 2015Urbana, IL
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bader, Julia.
ChinaÕs Foreign Relations and the Survival of Autocracies 
. New York: Routledge, 2015.BillŽ, Franck, GrŽgory Delaplace and Caroline Humphrey.
Frontier Encounters: Knowledge and Practice at the Russian, Chinese and Mongolian Border 
. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers CIC Ltd., 2012.ÒChina, Khoomii Not Yours DonÕt Register in UNESCO.Ó Published January 18, 2010. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/khoomii/.Davis, Thalea C. ÒAcross the Red Steppe: Exploring Mongolian Music in China and Exporting it From Within.Ó MA thesis, Western Michigan University, 2013.DÕEvelyn, Charlotte. ÒThe Power of Recognition: UNESCO and the 2009 Throat Singing Controversy in Inner Mongolia, China.Ó Lecture, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, March 5, 2014.Gardner, Lisa. ÒMongolia and China Mark Ancient Cultural Ties.Ó
Al Jazeera 
, August 31, 2014. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/08/mongolia-china-mark-ancient-cultural-ties-201483085921999916.html.Higgins, Andrew. ÒA Showdown Over Traditional Throat Singing Divides China and Mongolia.Ó
The Washington Post 
, August 10, 2011. Accessed March 15, 2015. http:// http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-paciÞc/a-showdown-over-traditional-throat-singing-divides-china-and-mongolia/2011/06/24/gIQASaZS7I_story.html.Kotkin, Stephen and Bruce A. Elleman, ed.
Mongolia in the Twentieth Century: Landlocked Cosmopolitan 
. New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 1999.Levin, Theodore and Valentina SŸzŸkei.
Where the Rivers and Mountains Sing: Sound, Music, and Nomadism in Tuva and Beyond 
.
 
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2011.Pegg, Carole. ÒNomads, States and Musical Landscapes: Some Dilemmas of Khššmii as Intangible Cultural Heritage.Ó Paper presented at the Musical Geographies of Central Asia Conference and Concert, London, England, May 16, 2012. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.akdn.org/musical_geographies/carole_pegg.asp.Schwarz, Henry G. ed.
Mongolian Culture and Society in the Age of Globalization: Proceedings of an International Research Conference, Western Washington University, August 5-6, 2005 
. Bellingham, Washington: Center for East Asian Studies Western Washington University, 2006.
师博王编
.
外蒙古独立内幕
.
 
北京
:
人民中国出版社
, 1993.Soni, Sharad K.
Mongolia-China Relations: Modern and Contemporary Times.
New Delhi, India: Pentagon Press, 2006.
 
12
Thalea StokesApril 18, 2015MIDSEM Annual Meeting 2015Urbana, IL
ÒText of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.Ó Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?pg=00006.UNESCO.
Cultural Policy in the Mongolian PeopleÕs Republic: A Study Prepared Under the Auspices of the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO 
. Paris: United Nations Educational, ScientiÞc and Cultural Organization, 1982.Zoljargal, M. ÒMongolian Saddle Submitted as Chinese Cultural Heritage.Ó
The UB Post 
, April 30, 2013. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=3858.
 
13
READ PAPER

 

 

Author: tranquanghai1944

Ethnomusicologist, composer and vietnamese traditional musician

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s