From Tangible to Intangible Heritage

  • D. Fairchild Ruggles
  • Helaine Silverman

Two popular television programs on the air in Fall 2007—the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain and National Geographic Channel’s “Taboo”—play to the public’s fascination with exotic peoples. National Geographic’s website ( specifically uses exoticism as an enticement, urging the audience: “Test your boundaries. Push beyond your comfort zone. Understand seemingly bizarre and shocking practices from around the world.” The audience is comprised of comfortably insular U.S. Americans, and the source of their enjoyment is the intangible cultural heritage of others—what used to be known among earlier generations of anthropologists as “primitive customs and traditions.” Whereas National Geographic’s intent is simply to startle an increasingly unflappable public, Anthony Bourdain attempts to more respectfully involve the viewer in the larger cultural world of the distant peoples he visits. In both cases the audience observes...


Cultural Heritage Cultural Property World Heritage Hague Convention Historic Monument 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Landscape ArchitectureUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

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