Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 14.COM 10.B.10

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that the Dominican Republic has nominated Music and dance of Dominican Bachata (No. 01514) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The music and dance of Dominican Bachata is a danceable musical expression, deriving from a fusion of rhythmic bolero with other Afro-Antillean genres such as Son, the Cha-cha-cha, Merengue, etc. The Dominican people consider the music and dance of Bachata as a vernacular cultural manifestation, omnipresent in community celebrations and social gatherings. In general, the lyrics of Bachata express deep, visceral feelings of love, passion and nostalgia. Etymologically, the term ‘bachata’, presumed to be of African origin, originally referred to a lively gathering or party, rather than a musical genre specifically. For its performance, Bachata traditionally requires a small group of musicians, who use one or two guitars as lead instruments (electric guitars are widely used nowadays), and a percussion composed of bongos, maracas and a guiro accompanied by a bass. The music has four tempos per beat and usually one of the musicians is the lead singer. The dance of Bachata is equally passionate, consisting of a couple’s dance characterized by a sensual hip movement and simple eight-step structure. Since the element is an integral part of all traditional celebrations in the Dominican Republic, the dance is learnt spontaneously from a young age, but there are also over a hundred academies, studios and schools dedicated to its transmission.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   Music and dance of Dominican Bachata constitutes a powerful element of cohesion which plays a vital role in the process of socialization in the Dominican Republic; it is considered as a key component of the identity of its people and generates a sense of joy and happiness in participants. The practice effectively fosters intercultural dialogue and has served as a tool for transversal interaction between the different strata and generations of society.

R.2:   Due to the omnipresence of Bachata throughout the territory of the Dominican Republic, the inscription of the element would have a major and positive impact on ensuring the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general. It would also drive strategic partners in civil society and governmental institutions to emphasize their commitment to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, while opening up new platforms for discussion and awareness-raising. Finally, the inscription would also contribute to strengthening the role of music and other cultural expressions worldwide, as important instruments for promoting intercultural dialogue and tolerance.

R.5:   Dominican Bachata was included in the Inventory of the National Registry of Intangible Cultural Assets of the Dominican Cultural Heritage in 2015. The inventory is maintained by the Ministry of Culture and has been prepared with the active participation of the community and non-governmental organizations concerned, with the collaboration of anthropologists and researchers.

  1. Further considers that based on the information provided by the State Party to the Committee at its present session, the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are satisfied:

R.3:   The file shows how different safeguarding measures have been undertaken by the State, with the communities’ support, which include strengthening means of transmission, research, documentation, funds for training, celebrations and festivals. The viability of the element has been sustained by groups and local communities through their practice, and by non-governmental organizations, with the support of the submitting State. The element has also been taught in public schools, in new local music schools and city halls.

R.4:   Practitioners and bearers, representatives of state institutions, experts, artisans and members of groups associated with the practice participated in different regions of the country in meetings, workshops, etc. leading to the elaboration of the nomination file. These stakeholders have expressed their prior, free and informed consent. A broad mobilization of civil society took place around the elaboration of the nomination file.

  1. Decides to inscribe Music and dance of Dominican Bachata on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the submitting State to continue to work in safeguarding the element on its traditional ways and in order to ensure the full participation of the communities concerned in formal and informal transmission of the element;
  3. Reminds the State Party to take particular heed in ensuring the continuity of social functions and cultural meanings of the element for its bearers and the broader community;
  4. Further encourages the State Party to pay attention to the potential folklorization and decontextualization of the element resulting from its over-commercialization and invites it to consider the community – and transmission – based aspects of intangible cultural heritage, as defined in the Convention, rather than the economic dimension of cultural industries, which may be better addressed by other UNESCO programmes in the cultural field;
  5. Recalls the importance of using vocabulary appropriate to the spirit of the Convention and avoiding expressions such as ‘authenticity’ or ‘integrity’.