Concerning the institutional framework for safeguarding in Jordan, a Supreme National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage was established in 2010 chaired by the Minister of Culture, and a Department for Intangible Cultural Heritage was set up within the Ministry. It will contribute to setting a national intangible cultural heritage (ICH) strategy in cooperation with various sectors working in this field and bearer communities, groups and individuals.
Although there is no specialised institution for training and capacity-building in ICH management, since 2010 the Department of Heritage has been training its personnel, as well as researchers from communities on methodologies for inventorying with community participation. The department is also promoting awareness of the significance of safeguarding ICH and continues to try to identify ICH bearers and stakeholders in the field of ICH. Universities and other centres play a crucial role in training on cultural heritage management but mostly concentrate on tangible aspects. Institutions include the Hashemite University and its Queen Rania Institute of Heritage and Tourism, the Department of Heritage Resources Management (Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities), Yarmouk University and the Princess Basma Bint Talal Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage (AI-Hussein Bin Talal University) which seeks dissemination of technical knowledge through training. With UNESCO support, a ten-day capacity-building workshop was held to train specialists and local community male and female members in community-based inventorying methods for the pilot project (see below). Another UNESCO-sponsored workshop on preparing nomination files was held in Amman and attended by members of the National Commission and the Ministry of Culture, some of whom are connected to local communities of Madaba.
No central documentation authority exists for Jordanian ICH but there are existing collections that can be considered as archives and represent an important resource, including collections in: the Department of National Library which controls implementation of the copyright law of 1992, gathers and systematises periodical publications, images, recorded materials, films and other materials related to national heritage; the Civil Institutions’ Archives, such as the Jordan River Foundation, Sustainable Development Society, Union of Historians of Tribal Heritage, the Queen Rania Institute for Tourism and Heritage, Jordanian Studies Centre at Yarmouk University, the Centre for Manuscripts at Jordan University and the Circassian Charity Society; and a few heritage non governmental organisations (NGOs), most of which are concerned with performing arts, have conducted some documentation activities on living heritage. The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has documented heritage in related municipalities and other projects have documented national oral heritage, such as ‘Grandma’s Tales’, Jordanian Bedouin poetry and oral tales from Zarqa City. Related activities also include restoring and digitalising around 1000 old recordings of oral expressions and the ‘National Thesaurus of Jordanian Folklore Heritage’ project to create a database of words and concepts related to Jordanian ICH. Information and data held by such bodies are publicly accessible and can be used for management and research efforts.
The ‘Mediterranean Living Heritage’ (MedLiHer) project was the stimulus for creating the first ICH inventory in Jordan. As a pilot project, Madaba governorate was selected to apply the first community-based inventorying methodology in line with the 2003 Convention. This pilot established a framework and methodology for inventorying ICH in Jordan and it gave the Jordanian authorities sufficient information to manage and support the inventorying process. It is also a good example for other governorates to follow in conducting inventorying (e.g. AI Balqa’, Al Zarqa’ and Al Karak governorates) through local governmental means. It will also assist in identifying and establishing a mechanism for improved safeguarding, as well as encouraging and training researchers in inventorying methods and techniques. The results of the inventorying activities in Jordan are available online but not accessible to the public as they are not yet finalised.
Other safeguarding measures operate within the policy approach of the Jordanian National Agenda which emphasizes that cultural development is vitally related to political, economic and social development. These include general measures that increase the visibility of ICH, for example: holding events related to various domains and elements, such as traditional poetry, flute playing and traditional storytelling; publishing a book on cultural diversity in Jordan (social structure, legislation and cultural events); holding a festival during cultural heritage days in Madaba and; Nabatean poetic evenings and folklore tales. Several other cultural festivals related to ICH (e.g. on Rababah Rebec, folklore or theatre ceremonies) are organised by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism, local municipalities, cultural and folklore associations and others. In corporation with Jordanian Television, the Jordanian Hashemite Fund created an 18-part series documenting local heritage, traditions and customs and natural heritage.
Great importance is accorded to awareness-raising in Jordan. During 2011, the National Commission in cooperation with the UNESCO Office in Amman held a series of awareness campaigns targeting several sectors and various stakeholders on ICH and the 2003 Convention. Since there are differing levels of understanding, different stakeholder groups were targeted, namely the public, secondary school teachers, academics and educators, NGOs and civil society organisations (with a focus on cultural activities) and the media. This endeavour provided an opportunity to elaborate proposed methods to promote dialogue and discussions around strategies for safeguarding ICH, and that both formal and non-formal education can play an important role in strengthening awareness-raising on living heritage and its transmission both within and beyond communities who practice it. A study on a project for the revival of traditional rugs manufacturing was prepared and presented to UNESCO for its support from 2012–13.
Educational programmes have yet to be developed around ICH and the Ministry of Education recognises the importance of this, especially in relation to younger generations.
Several museums present expressions of Jordanian heritage and these play a crucial role in safeguarding ICH. Living heritage museums contribute through their role to exhibit living and viable heritage, as well as presenting alternative scenarios for establishing environmental museums related to ICH using an integrated approach.
In terms of bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, Jordan has been involved since 2010 together with Egypt, Lebanon, the Maison des Cultures du Monde (Paris) and UNESCO in the MedLiHer project for supporting implementation of the 2003 Convention and improving regional cooperation through the exchange of skills/experiences by establishing a network of institutions and developing a web portal that will serve as an interface for a database. Jordan also has close cooperation with other Arab and neighbouring countries through bilateral agreements that usually include a component relating to ICH, as well as several agreements with other Islamic and non-Arab States.
Jordan has one element inscribed on the Representative List, namely the Cultural space of the Bedu in Petra and Wadi Rum (2008). No relevant changes to the element are to be signalled, however visibility obtained from its inscription has encouraged many discussions to take place concerning the elaboration of a national strategy/policy for ICH.