What is the ethnology of France and heritage?
For more than forty years, the Ministry of Culture has supported research in the field of ethnology in France and heritage.
The Ethnological Heritage Mission was created within the Ministry of Culture in the early 1980s, following the publication of the benzeid report. Its ambition was to build a policy of research and training in ethnology in France, a sector of scientific research that was at the time little developed, but whose interest was borne by many individuals and associations.
Initially focused on research themes such as working-class culture, the rural world and know-how, this policy has continued to diversify its objects, to invent new ones and to take a critical look at its past actions.
In the course of the 1990s, the Council and the Mission for Ethnological Heritage, together with a number of advisers in the Regional Directorates for Cultural Affairs (DRAC), initiated a research project in ethnology of heritage, partially institutionalized in the early 2000s with the creation of Lahic. With the General Review of Public Policies (RGPP), this administrative structure is active under the name of mission of the Ethnological Heritage, then mission to Ethnology and finally mission Ethnology, was finally included in the Research Steering and Scientific Policy Department (DPRPS) of the Directorate-General for Heritage created at the end of 2009 by the Ministry of Culture.
Within the ethnological community, the use of the term “ethnological heritage” raises several questions, especially with the emergence of the intangible cultural heritage (PCI) , a new form of heritage action that invites us to seize by other means (safeguarding, protection and collective action) objects that, within the framework of ethnological heritage, were the subject of an exclusively scientific or educational treatment.
The Department’s actions
Present for nearly forty years within heritage policies, France’s cultural action and research in ethnology are based on several measures implemented today by the Ministry of Culture:
- The management of ethnology research in France through research programs.
- Support for ethnology training in France through the establishment of annual research courses in ethnology in France and in intangible cultural heritage.
- Support for audiovisual creation in French ethnology with calls for projects launched by the Ministry.
- Publication and exploitation of research, in partnership with the Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'homme, publishing the collections "Ethnologie de la France" and "Cahiers d'ethnologie de la France". These publications promote research supported by the Ministry of Culture. Also, the electronic journal In Situ. Heritage Review special issue In Situ. In the social sciences and support for the publication, print or electronic, of several books and journals on ethnology ("The Notebooks of Lahic", "Les Carnets Bérose", ethnographic.org, Land, French ethnology, among others).
- Cultural action and regional research with the animation of the network of advisers for ethnology of the regional directorates of Cultural Affairs (DRAC) and ethnopoles. These are structures dedicated to ethnological culture, certified by the Ministry, which are also centres of documentary resources and scientific research on different themes.
- Heritage Research through collaboration with several research units specialized in the field of ethnology of heritage and ethnology of the French domain; research programmes developed in partnership with the CNRS (Interdisciplinary Institute of Anthropology of Contemporary-IIAC, UMR 8177: team of the Laboratory of Anthropology and History of the Institution of Culture-Lahic); transversal research programs of the Ministry. Many of these searches are published online in the collectionThe Notebooks of Lahic', dedicated to enhancing original research in heritage ethnology.
Ethnology and Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICP)
In 2006, France ratified the Unesco Convention of 17 October 2003 for the Protection of intangible cultural heritage (ICP). Its implementation has been entrusted to the Department of Culture, particularly because of its expertise in ethnology.
The Ministry coordinates the actions related to the 2003 convention through the animation of the Committee of Ethnological and Intangible Heritage. In the regions, the advisers for ethnology and PCI referents in DRAC are its correspondents, in addition to the ethnopoles, research units and specialized networks. The Ministry works in partnership with the French Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage (Maison des Cultures du Monde) and La Fabrique de patrimoines en Normandie, both non-governmental organizations accredited by UNESCO in the field of ICP. In partnership with the CNRS (team of the Laboratory of Anthropology and History of the Institution of Culture, the Ministry conducts research on heritage policies, and in particular on the PCI.
These actions are part of all the measures devoted to the ethnology of France: research programmes, final studies, support for research and training, support for audiovisual creation and publication. In partnership with the Cinéma du réel and the Ethnographic Film Committee, the Department promotes the development of productions related to the ICP.