Conference “Oral Tradition of National Minorities as Part of the Intangible Heritage of Serbia”

On the occasion of the International Mother Language Day, the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society, in collaboration with the Babka Gallery from Kovacica, organized a two-day conference entitled “Oral Tradition of National Minorities as Part of the Intangible Heritage of Serbia”.

The aim of the Conference was to inform representatives and bearers of cultural programs of national minorities in Serbia about the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage to help them identify part of their intangible cultural heritage and prepare their proposals for inscription on the National List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Serbia.

The conference was opened by Dusica Zivkovic, Assistant Minister for Culture and President of the National Committee for the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Serbia, who, pointing to the significance and hitherto results of implementing the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, said:

“The concept of cultural identity and the issue of its preservation, i.e. the problem of preserving cultural diversity in the world, occur as a response to the increasing vulnerability of small and disadvantaged communities under the pressure of globalization. Actualization of this issue is not, however, provoked by the process of globalization only. The realization of the inseparability of cultural diversity, that is, cultural heritage from the social, political, and economic development of a country and the wider international community, has brought the issue of the safeguarding of cultural heritage to the same level as the issue of human rights protection. In other words, as characteristics specific to a community are reflected in both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the right to free expression, the practice and preservation of these characteristics is not much different than, for example, the right to freedom of thought or freedom of expression of national identity.”

The Conference was attended by representatives of national councils of national minorities in the Republic of Serbia, namely: representatives of the National Council of the Ashkali National Minority, the National Council of the Bunjevac National Minority, the National Council of the Vlach National Minority, the National Council of the German National Minority, the National Council of the Roma National Minority, the National Council of the Bosniak National Minority, the National Council of the Romanian National Minority, the National Council of the Slovakian National Minority, the National Council of the Slovenian National Minority, the National Council of the Greek National Minority, the National Council of the Ukrainian National Minority, the National Council of the Croatian National Minority, the National Council of the Macedonian National Minority, the National Council of the Czech National Minority, and representatives of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Serbia.

As part of the Conference, thematic workshops were organized to allow the participants to become more familiar with certain areas of the oral tradition, more easily identify elements of their oral tradition, and prepare any suggestions for inscription on the National List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Serbia.
The workshop entitled “Small Folklore Forms” was facilitated by Dr. Biljana Sikimic of the Institute for Balkan Studies of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SASA); the workshop entitled “Oral Tradition with Musical Elements” was facilitated by Dr. Danka Lajic-Mihajlovic of the Institute of Musicology of SASA; and the workshop entitled “Oral Prose” was facilitated by Dr. Sonja Petrovic of the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade.

The conference was also attended by experts from the Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, the Ethnographic Institute of SASA, and regional coordinators for the intangible cultural heritage.