William & Mary Journal of Race, Gender, and Social Justice


The Preamble of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (CSICH) recognizes the connection between indigenous peoples and intangible cultural heritage. The convention indicates that part of its mission is to protect the intangible cultural heritage of indigenous peoples against the processes of globalization and social transformation. The convention, however, has been critiqued for the manner in which it attempts to manage intangible cultural heritage, with critics charging that the convention fosters a power structure that favors states and thereby threatens to marginalize indigenous peoples from control over their own cultures. Such criticism raises a question as to what changes should be made to rectify the power inequalities of the CSICH to aid indigenous peoples. This Article responds to this question, and follows the convention’s critiques by using the theories of Michel Foucault to evaluate the power structure created by the CSICH and identify what types of changes to the convention would benefit indigenous peoples.