Launch of IRCI’s new research project focusing on natural disasters and ICH

Following the decision made at the 4th Governing Board Meeting (25 September 2015), IRCI adopted a new Medium-term Programme (2016-2020), which emphasises the theme of “ICH Safeguarding and Disaster Risk Management” as one of the activity focuses. Accordingly, IRCI launched in April 2016 a new project “Preliminary Research on ICH Safeguarding and Disaster-Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific Region” as the first-step to tackle this emerging field. IRCI currently works in collaboration with the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo (Intangible Cultural Heritage Unit) for effectively running this project.

The scope of the activities in the first year is to collect basic information on the current situation of disaster-risk reduction and management activities in the Asia-Pacific region and ICH safeguarding in the context of natural disasters, as well as to develop cooperative networks with major research institutions in the region. As the first attempt to achieve these objectives, IRCI sent Yoko Nojima (IRCI Associate Fellow) and Tomo Ishimura (Head of Audio-Visual Documentation Section, National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo) to the Philippines during 3-8 July to meet with researchers in major organisations in Metro Manila. Through a series of meetings and discussions, IRCI was able to have a better understanding of the disaster risk management situation in Philippines. It was also a good opportunity for IRCI to cultivate its research network in Philippines, where IRCI did not have any activities in the past years.

Prior to the above mentioned trip to the Philippines, IRCI organised on 1 July the 1st Working Group Session of the project at the Tokyo National Museum. The aim of the working group session was to explore possible approaches and ideas for the project, through inviting specialists in disaster studies from various academic disciplines. IRCI invited Professor Hiromu Shimizu (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University) as the first guest speaker to talk about the cases of natural disasters in Philippines from an anthropological perspective. He reported based on his long-term experiences the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and the recovery of the Aeta, as well as stories related to the Ifugao rice terraces (UNESCO World Heritage), followed by extensive questions and answers. As the first official gathering of the project, the session was attended by Wataru Iwamoto, Director-General of IRCI, as well as Nobuo Kamei, Director of National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, and its Deputy Director Emiko Yamanashi, in addition to research staff of two organizations actively involved in the project.

IRCI is in the process of scheduling further project activities, including a series of reconnaissance surveys in several countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and working sessions.

Contact Yoko Nojima (IRCI) for further inquiries

  • Discussions with Dr Jesus T. Peralta at the office of Intangible Cultural Heritage Unit, NCCA

  • Meeting at OML Center (Oscar M. Lopez Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Foundation, Inc.)

  • Meeting at Manila Observatory (Ateneo de Manila Campus)

  • Working Group Session on 1 July 2016