This is a chronological overview of the activities of the UNESCO Chair.
4-9 December 2023. Kristin Kuutma is the head of the Estonian delegation to the 18th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO in Botswana.
Together with the delegations from Namibia, Botswana and eSwatini, the the Estonian delegation also organises a seminar on living heritage and education.
30 November 2023. Elo-Hanna Seljamaa participates in a panel discussion about the research on cultural heritage, which is organised by the Estonian Ministry of Culture on the occasion of the launch of its new research and development programme.
3 November 2023. Aet Annist gave the lecture "The story of climate change and how we participate in it" at a conference dedicated to theatre and sustainability. Organised by the Estonian Theatre Agency and the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
6 November 2023. Webinar organised by the RISE UP consortium for revitalising languages and safeguarding cultural diversity. First-hand insights into digital language activism and interactive discussions on how digital tools and strategies can be used to support minoritised languages.
25-26 October 2023. Representatives of the UNESCO Chair participated in the consortium meeting of the RISE UP (Revitalising Languages and Safeguarding Cultural Diversity) project in Spain.
Read more about the meeting here.
More about the project on our homepage.
24 October 2023. Professor Kristin Kuutma, holder of the UNESCO Chair and professor of Cultural Research, gave a presentation at the conference where Candidates for the Estonian Academy of Sciences present themselves.
24 October 2023. Associate professor Elo-Hanna Seljamaa participated at the round-table discussion Võime rääkida (We can speak) on the communication in a multilingual society. Oragnised by the Estonian National Museum.
7 October 2023. Professor Kristin Kuutma represented the UNESCO Chair at the events of Seto Michaelmas Day held at the Estonian Open Air Museum.
It was part of the Seto Week held throughout Estonia. At the moment, the UNESCO Chair focuses on Seto language and culture in the framework of the RISE UP project.
7 October 2023. Maarja Veisson represented the UNESCO Chair at the Estonian indigenous languages conference “Kohes mi lää?”.
It was part of the Seto Week held throughout Estonia. At the moment, the UNESCO Chair focuses on Seto language and culture in the framework of the RISE UP project.
6 October 2023. Maarja Veisson represented the UNESCO Chair at the seminar "Methods and experiences of teaching traditional culture". It was part of the project "Preserving and promoting Seto- and Peipsiland cultural heritage".
25 September 2023. Associate Professor Elo-Hanna Seljamaa gave the presentation "From authenticity to authenticities, from the tangible to the intangible" at the conference "Museum and Authenticity" organised by the Estonian Museum Association and ICOM Estonia.
13-15 September 2023. The conference of young folklorists "Beyond the Field: Fieldwork in the 21st Century" was held in Riga (Latvia). Several students of the UNESCO Chair also participated.
13 September 2023. The interdisciplinary Erasmus Mundus joint masters programme Education in Museums and Heritage kicked off at the University of Glasgow. Our international MA programme Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies is part of it. The Intangible Cultural Heritage study track will host students in Tartu in the spring semester.
31 August 2023. The analysis ’Connections of young Estonians living abroad to Estonia and the factors that influence their return decisions or cooperation with Estonia’ (only available in Estonian) was presented. The analysis was compiled at the Institute of Cultural Research and commissioned by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Associate Professor Aet Annist from the UNESCO Chair was part of the team.
25 August 2023. Students of Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies defended master’s theses and projects.
5 August 2023. Representatives of the UNESCO Chair participated at the Seto Kingdom Day. Our chair is part of the RISE UP project for revitalising languages and safeguarding cultural diversity, which focuses on Seto language among others.
21 June 2023. The publication State of the Art – Elements for Critical Thinking and Doing was presented in Helsinki, Finland. It wraps up the transdisciplinary Nordic-Baltic project State of the Art Network (SOTAN).
The UNESCO Chair is represented by Daina Pupkeviciute (Junior Research Fellow in Ethnology). Her contribution Attunement, or to Recognise the Unspectacular (here, page 81-85) is accompanied by a soundscape.
They further participated at the roundtable New horizons for SIEF engagement with UNESCO-ICH.
7 June 2023. The Chair Holder, Professor Kristin Kuutma, gave a lecture at Heidelberg University on the subject „Intangible heritage politics and the (unattainable) goal of reducing inequalities“. It was part of a public lecture series, „Immaterielles Erbe: eine Zukunftsressource?“ dedicated to the 20. anniversary of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage and organised by the Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage.
2 June 2023. Tomás Londoño Mora, a student of the “Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies” Master’s program, defended his master thesis “Policies and Practices for Safeguarding Colombia's Food Heritage: A Study of Llanero Traditions, Ajiaco Santafereño, and Cuy”, supervised by lecturer Ester Bardone and reviewed by Anu Kannike, a senior researcher at the Estonian National Museum.
Polina Holitsyna defended her master thesis, “Estonian Pagan Metal Subculture: Community and Authenticity”, supervised by associate professors Madis Arukask and Elo-Hanna Seljamaa and reviewed by Brigitta Davidjants, a research fellow at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.
Lodewyk Marthinus Barkhuizen defended his master thesis “Rethinking Carnival: The Construction and Decay of Allegorical Cars in Cabo Verde’s Carnaval Soncent” at noon. Supervisor: associate professor Elo-Hanna Seljamaa. Reviewer: research fellow Tiina Sepp.
1 June 2023. Kristiina Siig defended her master thesis, "Kristjan Toropi töö (pärimus)tantsu uurijana – mõjurid ja väljundid", supervised by professor Kristin Kuutma and reviewed by guest lecturer Juha-Matti Aronen.
26 May 2023. Associate Professor Aet Annist gave a presentation in a series of events on environmentally aware vocational training, organised by the Estonian Expert Board of Vocational Education.
11 May 2023. Professor Tiago de Oliveira Pinto, holder of the UNESCO Chair on Transcultural Music Studies at the University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar, presented his paper "How "alive" does Living Heritage ought to be? On evaluating intangible culture in the context of sustainable development" in the framework of the webinar series organized by the UNESCO Chair on Intangible Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development, CY Cergy Paris Université. Professor Kristin Kuutma acted as the discussant.
11 May 2023. Junior research fellow in ethnology Siarhiej Makarevich presented his paper “Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage as an Academic Project" at the young researchers of culture conference "Young Voices" held at the University Of Tartu.
12 April 2023. The UNESCO Chair organised a discussion meeting with fashion designer and environmental activist Reet Aus to elaborate on the possibilities of slow, sustainable and ethical fashion. As the Visiting Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Tartu, Reet Aus has invited her audience to discuss and question the consumer-oriented world, aiming to raise environmental awareness and promote more sustainable consumption choices. These reflections were preceded by the screening of the documentary “Out of Fashion” (2015) by Jaak Kilmi and Lennart Laberenz, depicting Reet Aus´s ambitious plans to change the fashion industry at the forefront of consumption rallies as well as among the producers of toxic waste. This documentary follows her journey from Tallinn through the fashion stages of Europe and the cotton plantations of South America and right into the epicentre of mass production in Bangladesh from 2009 to 2014.
29 March 2023. Associate Professor Aet Annist gave the presentation (in Estonian) "Climate and environmental movements - how to look into terrifying future?" at the seminar „Green living environment – a cost or a (mental) health insurance?" organised by the Sustainable Development Centreod the University of Tartu.
13 March 2023. Chahal Garg, a student of the “Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies” Master’s program, defended her MA project "CRAFTECH FUTURES: Speculative Futures of Craft and Technology Convergence", supervised by associate professor Elo-Hanna Seljamaa, and reviewed by Kairi Lentsius, fashion designer and lecturer at the Pallas University of Applied Sciences. The practical part of the project is to be found here.
30 January - 1 February 2023. Professor Kristin Kuutma participated in the online regional consultation on culture and arts education organized by UNESCO.
28 November - 3 December 2022. Professor Kristin Kuutma represented Estonia at the 17h session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Rabat, Morocco.
29-30 November 2022. The 12th conference on traditional singing, “From desperation to hope: the meanings and effect of group singing,” was organized in Tartu by the Estonian Folklore Archives of the Estonian Literary Museum in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies and UNESCO Chair on Applied Studies of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Junior Research Fellow in ethnology Siarhiej Makarevich presented "Singing in Exile: A Case Study of a Vilnius-Based Belarusian Traditional Singing Group".
3-4 November 2022. UNESCO and the French National Commission for UNESCO celebrated the 30th anniversary of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme. Dedicated to the theme “Transforming knowledge for just and sustainable futures", the conference considered the programme's future and the unique expertise and initiatives its members can bring to sustainable development challenges. Link to the recordings
18-20 October 2021. Associate Professor Elo-Hanna Seljamaa gave the presentation „Limits and Opportunities of Heritagization: Two Examples from Estonia“ at the annual conference of the American Folklore Society "Natural States: Environment, Politics, and Tradition".
17 October 2022. Associate Professor Elo-Hanna Seljamaa gave two presentations at the Ohio State University (USA):
14 October 2022. Kristin Kuutma held an online lecture, "Ownership and rights: Sustainable Development ideals with inequalities of recognition and resource command". Her speech was part of the webinar series, "Intangible Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development” (2022-2023), organised by the UNESCO Chair on Intangible Cultural Heritage and Sustainable Development, CY Cergy Paris Université, France, that brings together researchers and academics from various UNESCO Chairs. Discussant was Cléa Hance, PhD student ENS-Paris Saclay (France).
30 august 2022. Alena Shisheliakina defended her doctoral thesis “Being a woman and being Tatar: intersectional perspectives on identity and tradition in the post-soviet context” to obtain the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Ethnology). Professor Kristin Kuutma supervised the thesis that was opposed by associate professor Yulia Gradskova, Södertörn University (Sweden).
5-7 July 2022. The UNESCO chairholder, professor Kristin Kuutma represented Estonia at the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held in Paris. Estonia applied for a position in the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Photo: Margit Siim
17-18 March 2022. Professor Kristin Kuutma participated in the 8th Finnish Conference on Cultural Policy Research, “Cultural Knowledge in a Changing World,“ held at the University of Jyväskylä. She was one of the keynote speakers in her talk "Cultural Knowledge and Heritage Policies in a Changing World.“
22 February 2022. Siarhiej Makarevich, a student of the “Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies” Master’s program, defended his MA project "Revitalisation of the Local Weaving Tradition in the Hancavičy District (Belarus)," supervised by professor Kristin Kuutma, and reviewed by research fellow Terje Toomistu.
31 January-4 February 2022. Winter school "Transformations, Transfers, Transitions" at the University of Tartu. Professor Kristin Kuutma and professor Raili Marling were the Programme Directors of this Graduate School of Culture Studies and Arts. One of the keynote speakers was professor Laurajane Smith (Australian National University) with her talk "The Emotional Politics of Heritage."
13-18 December 2021. Professor Kristin Kuutma represented Estonia at the 16th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
25-26 November 2021. Professor Kristin Kuutma and professor Bernard Debarbieux (Université de Genève) discussed the dialogues between research and heritage stakeholders at the symposium "Nommer/Normer: Approaches pluridisciplinaires du patrimoine culturel immatériel" held in Paris, France.
10 September 2021. Professor Kristin Kuutma participated in the online consultation meeting of UNESCO Chairs during the COVID-19 pandemic organized by the UNESCO Chair on Intangible Cultural Heritage in Formal and Informal Education, Department of Turkish Folklore, Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University, Turkey.
20-21 August 2021. Conferece on Seto leelo in Setomaa. Ten years after Seto leelo was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, representatives of leelo choirs and other stakeholders of the Seto culture met in Obinitsa to discuss the situation of leelo singing and the Seto language. The event was organized by the UNESCO Chair, The Assembly of Seto Leelo Masters (Seto Leelotarko Kogo), and the foundation Seto Culture Fund (SA Setu Kultuuri Fond).
19-24 June 2021. A roundtable on ICH and higher education at the 15th SIEF Congress. The virtual meeting of the SIEF Working Group on Cultural Heritage and Property was organized by Kristin Kuutma, Anita Vaivade (Latvian Academy of Culture) and Robert Baron (Goucher College).
April-May 2021. The UNESCO Chair contributed to the Global reflection on the listing mechanisms of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and participated in the online survey and the online meeting of experts.
March-April 2021. Kristiina Porila participated in the training organized by the Living Heritage Entity of UNESCO: National focal points for periodic reporting under the 2003 Convention in the Europe Region.
16 February 2021. Webinar of the Nordic-Baltic ICH network: Experiences with National Inventories. Professor Kristin Kuutma participated.
21 January 2021. Katarina Stradner, a student of the “Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies” Master’s program, defended her MA thesis "Creating a Representation: The Singing to the Accompaniment of the Gusle as a Nomination to the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage" supervised by the UNESCO chairholder professor Kristin Kuutma and reviewed by Kristiina Porila from the UNESCO chair.
14-18 December 2020. The UNESCO chairholder, professor Kristin Kuutma was Estonia's official representative at the Intergovernmental Committee meeting for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was held online, coordinated from the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris and from Kingston in Jamaica.
20-29 October 2020. The travelling photo exhibition Estonia's deskmate eSwatini was on display at the Institute of Cultural Research at the invitation of the UNESCO Chair. On this occasion, a meeting with the UNESCO Chair holder, professor Kristin Kuutma and the author of the exhibition Laura Toomlaid was also organized.
Kristin Kuutma and Laura Toomlaid. Photo by Kristiina Porila
8-10 September 2020. Professor Kristin Kuutma, the holder of UNESCO chair, participated at the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
26-30 August 2020. Professor Kristin Kuutma organised a session on sensory experiences of heritage at the international virtual conference “Futures” of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies (ACHS). She was an invited discussant in the session "The Future within the Past, the Past within the Future – Theorising about the RetroFuturology of Cultural Heritage", curated by the SIEF Working Group on Cultural Heritage and Property.
Programme and abstracts.
4-6 March 2020. Associate professor Elo-Hanna Seljamaa co-organized the symposium ""No such thing as heritage"? – From Basic Assumptions and Constructs to Reconceptualizations" held at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (University of Helsinki) and delivered a lecture “Victory Day in Estonia: Heritage and Folklore”. One of the keynote speakers was professor Kristin Kuutma in her talk "Critical (Re)conceptualizations in the Politics of Heritage". Recording: University of Helsinki
3-7 February 2020. Winter School “Troubling Gender: Theory and Method” at the University of Tartu. Gender is an essential aspect of social cohesion which deserves a critical reflection and is tightly linked to cultural heritage. The UNESCO Chairholder professor Kristin Kuutma was the Program Director of the Winter School.
9-14 December 2019. Professor Kristin Kuutma, the holder of UNESCO chair, represented Estonia at the 14th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Bogota, Colombia.
Photo by Kristin Kuutma
13 December 2019. A representative of the UNESCO chair participated in the meeting of the Estonian Council for Intangible Cultural Heritage, an advisory body of the Ministry of Culture.
4 November 2019. A roundtable concerning UNESCO and intangible cultural heritage at the meeting of the board of SIEF (International Society of Ethnology and Folklore) in Marseille. The role of scientific analysis in international cultural politics was discussed – how can SIEF as a scientific organization contribute to implementing the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage? The roundtable was co-organized by Kristin Kuutma (UNESCO Chair on Applied Studies of ICH, University of Tartu) and Anita Vaivade (UNESCO Chair on ICH Policy and Law, Latvian Academy of Culture).
UNESCO chairholders Anita Vaivade and Kristin Kuutma. Photo by Kristiina Porila
31 October 2019. Thematical evening “Will the Estonian song festival be held in the Estonian language in 100 years?” The evening included presentations, a panel discussion, and a choral concert. The UNESCO chairholder Kristin Kuutma also made a presentation. The example of song festivals was used to discuss the links between cultural heritage and identity and how the phenomena labelled heritage change and how they are seen.
A summary of the presentations and discussions is available in the Estonian language on the blog of the Estonian National Museum. Some weeks later, the subject was also discussed on the radio program Luukamber.
Margit Sutrop, Aet Maatee, Marju Lauristin and Kristin Kuutma. Photo by Kristiina Porila
19-20 October 2019. Organizers of a festival on intangible cultural heritage, held in Tokyo during the Olympic year 2020, visited the Setomaa region in South-Eastern Estonia. Looking for performers for the upcoming festival, they met various Seto leelo choirs. The UNESCO Chair organized the visit.
Photos by Marika Ahven
7-8 May 2019. Professor Kristin Kuutma participated in the conference on intangible cultural heritage, museums, and cultural policies and the expert meeting of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and Museums Project in Mechelen, Belgium.
2 May 2019. Day of Cultural Heritage, the kick-off of the UNESCO Chair on Applied Studies of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
14-17 April 2019. A roundtable on "UNESCO and Entanglements of Intangible Cultural Heritage" at the 14th SIEF congress "Track Changes: Reflecting on a Transforming World" in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The meeting of the SIEF Working Group on Cultural Heritage and Property was organized by professor Kristin Kuutma (UNESCO Chair on Applied Studies of ICH, University of Tartu) and assistant professor Anita Vaivade (UNESCO Chair on ICH Policy and Law, Latvian Academy of Culture).