The special issue of the Journal of Ethnology 5/2015 in English is devoted to cultural heritage in its widest understanding by the ethnological academic community and expert public. Andrej Sulitka and Zdeněk Uherek focus on national minorities and their organizations in Prague (National Minority Organisations in Prague: structure, competence and social activities). Jana Pospíšilová, Jana Poláková and Klára Brožovičová pay attention to national minorities in Brno with an emphasis put on the Roma community (National Minorities in Brno. The Cultural Heritage of Roma in Excluded Locations). Juraj Hamar and Ľubica Voľanská describe the UNESCO documents on intangible cultural heritage and their practical implementation (Between Politics, Science and Bearers. Implementation of the UNESCO-Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage). Daniela Stavělová summarizes the phenomenon of the ride of the kings (one of the Czech Republic’s inscriptions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity) and its contemporary research in the Vlčnov location (The Ride of the Kings in Vlčnov from the Perspective of Contemporary Research). Oľga Danglová devotes herself to folk visual-art traditions in Slovakia from the perspective of cultural heritage (Folk Art and Craft and Cultural Heritage. Ethnological Perspective and Practice on an Example from Slovakia).
The news from the discipline present the themes associated with applied ethnology. They describe the museology in the Czech Republic (including open-air museums and the use of traditional techniques for their construction) and the projects which are solved in scientific institutions within applied ethnology. The conclusion of the issue introduces noticeable publication activities of Czech ethnologists.
National Minority Organisations in Prague: structure, competence and social activities
The focus of this text is on the assessment of the in-depth interviews which the authors of this article conducted in 2014 with the functionaries of important Prague minority associations associated in the House of National Minorities in Prague. The interviews concentrated on their attitudes to formal and informal institutions that the minorities form, on their opinion about the exercise of minority rights in Czech society, on the influence of the House of National Minorities on the club life in Prague and on the problems with administrative work which is necessary for club activity. Last but not least, the interviews focused on the financing of clubs and the political ambitions of their members. The interviews with the representatives of particular organizations showed diversity in the organizational structure of clubs and interest associations of particular minorities in Prague, and their different biases. The interviews showed a variety of strategies used in getting financial funding for the club activities and the resulting different financial security. The interviews also showed frequent problems with the infrastructure of the clubs. Quite a low level of legal consciousness of the interview participants was a significant piece of knowledge, although some of the participants take part in wider political life especially as members of political parties exceeding the minority groups. The authors of the article state in the conclusion that the opportunities for particular minorities to exercise their cultural and social needs through minority clubs are becoming differentiated. Without more purposeful support by the Czech Republic, especially the minority clubs bound to economically less successful countries will soon get into difficulties with their selection of services in comparison with the clubs bound to wealthier countries which fund the minority club activities in the Czech Republic.
National Minorities in Brno. The Cultural Heritage of Roma in Excluded Locations
During the last century, the multi-ethnic character of Brno changed in reaction to political and economic changes in the Czech Republic. The article is based on qualitative research on the national minorities in Brno and participating observation between 2007 and 2014. It offers a brief and informative overview of ethnological research in Brno since the late 1950s and changes in the methodological access to research on the town from the perspective of ethnology. A separate sub-chapter is devoted to the most important national minorities and ethnic groups. It draws attention to the census in the Czech Republic when its official data are in contrast to the qualified estimations (especially in terms of the number of the Roma). The contribution pays attention to the ethic, social and cultural development of the Roma and offers an informative and analytical view of the process of modernization and gentrification in the socially excluded location of Cejl in the district of Brno-North where a high percentage of the Roma live. In this town district are the most important cultural and educational and social facilities for the Roma (Museum of Romani Culture, various non-profit organizations) which attend to the preservation of cultural heritage of this Czech ethnic minority, among other things. The process of gentrification which is running here now influences the ethnic and social composition of the residents and thus the social culture of this town district. Development is heading towards the displacement of socially weak residents – mainly the Roma – which is in contrast to the intention of the subsidy principles of the European Union and the Integrated Development Plan for the City.
Between Politics, Science and Bearers. Implementation of the UNESCO-Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
The contribution deals with the processes that are behind the creation of the lists of intangible cultural heritage at the national and especially the international level (UNESCO). It analyses the role of official documents, directives, materials, recommendations, etc. from the “workshop” of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003) which plays a recommending role in the procedure of creation of the nomination registers of intangible cultural heritage which should be inscribed on one of the UNESCO Lists. Based on the participating observation from the sessions of the Intergovernmental committee (in 2013 and 2014) and the General Assembly of the 2013 Convention (in 2014) as well as written materials, the contribution shows with particular examples how necessary it is to maintain a balance between the ideas of communities (bearers of traditions), the scientific approach of experts (ethnologists, ethnomusicologists, ethnochoreologists, museologists…), interests of the member states to the 2003 Convention and UNESCO rules in the course of the nomination of particular elements.
The Ride of the Kings in Vlčnov from the Perspective of Contemporary Research
The contribution introduces the theme of research into a traditional Shrovetide custom – the Ride of the Kings – in one of the ethnographic areas in the Czech Republic. The text is based on the contributions that became outcomes of international field research in a Czech location. This research was carried out thanks to the initiative of the ICTM Study Group on Ethnochoreology. The Group has dealt systematically with fieldwork through the ICTM Sub-Study Group of Field Research Theory and Method, a narrower-aimed study sub-group. The research focused on the traditional custom of the Ride of the Kings in the ethnographic area of Slovácko, which was chosen with special respect to the background provided by the inscription of the Ride on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The fact is undoubtedly reflected in how the outside world perceives the Ride and how the Ride is shared by the local community. It provides a space for research on viability and the process of transformations in this traditional expression in contemporary society.
Folk Art and Craft and Cultural Heritage. Ethnological Perspective and Practice on an Example from Slovakia
The study follows the transformations in ethnologists’ understanding of cultural heritage in relation to folk culture. The text also refers to how their work changed in practical everyday life in Slovakia. The focus is on examples from the realm of tangible culture, traditions in handicrafts and visual art, their consumers and creators who have been termed “folk creators” to date. The contribution briefly describes the major features of the traditions at the time of their flourishing (from the 19th century until the first half of the 20th century) and their gradual decline and transformation (from the second half of the 20th century until now). The text calls attention to how the group and the particularity of consumers has changed and the regional differences in manufacture traditions have been removed; on the other hand, it highlights the ever stronger current efforts to revitalize the traditions in the name of the safeguarding of cultural heritage. The author also pays attention to the role the institutions, namely the state-funded Centre for Folk Arts and Crafts, play in the adjustment of parameters in relation to the use of folk production heritage. On empiric examples from the present, the text describes the differences in approaches and ways of treating the local inventory of local manufacture and visual traditions. The contribution closes with an article devoted to the discourse about the task of ethnology.