Sbek Thom, Khmer shadow theatre
© National Museum of Cambodia
6 March 2013

Great efforts are underway to reorient Cambodia’s methods of inventorying living heritage. Thanks to the global UNESCO Programme to build capacity for the implementation of the Convention, the Government is reinforcing its existing methods to document and inventory intangible cultural heritage.

With the generous funding from Japan, a number of provincial directors under the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, civil society organizations and community representatives came together in Siem Reap (about 320 kilometres from the capital Phnom Penh) from 14 to 21 February to build their knowledge and develop the new approach on inventorying living heritage.

The programme included 8 days of intensive course work and field-based practicum carried out in the rural areas of Siem Reap and the town itself. The fieldwork covered a visit to the School of Fine Arts and two local communities, with forms of ICH documented including traditional weaving processes, martial arts skills and techniques, and performing arts. Participants learned, through hands-on training, field-based techniques of interviewing and audio-visual recording. A visit was also conducted to the Eco-Global Museum (supported by UNESCO), to learn about a concrete inventory project underway which combines audio-visual documentation of living heritage among a local indigenous community with the documentation of associated cultural objects.

This capacity-building workshop has provided participants with a valuable addition to their field practice. It has also emphasized the need to work with a variety of partners, notably the communities concerned.