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Laos and Ethnic Minority Cultures: Promoting Heritage

'It is thought that Laos is home to no fewer than 47 ethnic groups. A large number of these local cultures, some of them of great antiquity, have managed to survive in spite of the turbulent regional history. However, this cultural diversity is under threat - particularly the intangible heritage of the oral, gestural, musical and ritual kind that relies entirely on memory. This book is UNESCO's findings from a meeting it organised in Vientiane. A hugely useful reference book to the culture of the region.'

Asian Art

‘This handsomely produced book is the product of an “International Expert Meeting for the Safeguarding and Promotion of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ethnic Minority Groups of the Lao People’s Republic” held in Vientiane in October 1996. (…) On the whole the book achieves its aim of drawing attention to the rich cultural heritage in Laos, especially that of minorities. The focus on intangible heritage is also commendable, as this tends to receive less attention. (…) The 1996 meeting and this publication based on that meeting no doubt provide much food for thought. (…) This well-illustrated book, containing many colour plates, including a colour map on ethnolinguistic groups, is a useful introduction to ethnic groups in Laos. It will also appeal to scholars and agencies interested in minorities in mainland Southeast Asia and in heritage preservation.’

TAN Chee-Beng, Asian Anthropology

‘(…) Goudineau masterfully organizes an array of papers translated from several languages, presenting a variety of views, academic traditions, and levels of analysis and coming from several sources: academic and international experts, governmental administrations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)─certainly not an easy task.  He arranges the contributions into a cohesive volume divided into four parts: an introduction to issues of preserving intangible cultural heritage, a discussion of the social context of diversity, a description of the experience of neighboring countries, and an inventory of national and international cooperative projects. (…) This volume is a helpful addition to the literature on the cultural heritage of Laos, offering original ethnographic materials on several minority groups of whom little is known. Furthermore, it is a useful catalog of the many local, regional, and international projects in Laos. (…)’

Jacqueline Butler-Diaz, Arizona State University, The Journal of Asian Studies




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