HOUSE-GUARDING: connecting international community cultural centers
Home is where your heart is, I was once told. For five years, I have traveled diverse places where these words pulsate in hearts connected through music and dance, and the more I explored movement, the more I understood people have a need for an immovable, home-like place to meet and create. This photographic narrative weaves a net(work) of human lives in cultural spaces across five countries: Mexico, Chile, Bulgaria, Brazil, and India, in the chronological order of my work.
In debates on globalization, culture - if discussed - is narrowed to cultural homogenization fears; however, rather than passively “homogenized,” I met people who engaged with art as a way to transcend their routine limitations and employ imagination, instruments, and Internet to expand their local art worlds. My hope is that more would consider the alternative view of development advocated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): human well-being rooted in the revival/living of the human values enacted in intangible cultural heritage (ICH), or the range of arts, festivals, rituals, skills, and beliefs of diverse groups.
“House-guarding” in this context embodies – em-places, in fact – how UNESCO’s heritage safe-guarding ideas inhabit places, from networks of community cultural centers (3Cs), or “houses of culture” in Mexico, Bulgaria, and Brazil; to powerful dreams about such socializing buildings in Chile; to the social energy swirled around artists’ performances in India. “House-guarding” is an invitation to think about safeguarding intangible heritage as a rather tangible, home-building project, where communities, NGOs, and governments can work well together to open equal access to the arts. Outside of the home, hearts can find many “homes” for non-materialistic creativity.
Nadezhda Dimitrova Savova is a PhD candidate from Bulgaria at Princeton University’s Cultural Anthropology Department and taking classes at the Woodrow Wilson School for Public Policy, as well as a Fellow at the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Research. She has a BA in International Relations and Spanish Literature from Furman University, and conducts research on cultural policy comparing the community cultural centers networks in Bulgaria (chitalishte), Brazil (casas do samba), and Cuba (casas de cultura) as spaces for the intangible cultural heritage safeguarding in line with UNESCO’s principles. Nadezhda’s hands-on experience and research focus on the socially transformative role of amateur arts within individuals and communities.