Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Congrats Nicole Rizzo on BU Center for the Humanities Award!

Congratulations Nicole Rizzo!!!

Nicole Rizzo, Women & Gender Studies minor at Boston University and Assistant for the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network, as well as UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) research assistant for Dr. Carrie Preston, has won a prestigious student award from the Boston University Center for the Humanities. Please join us in congratulating Nicole on this extraordinary achievement!

Photo courtesy Brenda Gael McSweeney

Honorary BAHS Board Member Liane Brandon Exhibits "Lift: Women Powerlifters" at Faneuil Library Gallery

UPDATE: Photos from the reception at this amazing Exhibition can be found on our UNESCO/UNITWIN Flickr page here 

"'Lift: Women Powerlifters,' Photographs by BAHS
Honorary Board Member Liane Brandon at Faneuil Library Gallery

Liane Brandon's exhibition, 'Lift: Women Powerlifters,' is currently on view at the gallery of the Faneuil Branch, Boston Public Library. A reception for the artist will be held on Tuesday evening, April 12th, from 6 pm till 7:30 pm.

LIFT is a series of photographs celebrating four women powerlifters - women who defy physical and cultural stereotypes. They range in age from 27 to 60 and they are smart, interesting and strong. They have all won regional, national or world competitions. Lodrina is a forensic computer expert who weighs 123 pounds and can lift (an astonishing) 385 pounds. She just placed first in national competition. Jessica has a bachelor’s degree in kinesthesiology. Candace is a mom, the lead singer in a band, and a national titleholder. Jane, the oldest, is a grandmother who went to Wellesley College. She holds four world records.

Liane Brandon is an award winning independent filmmaker, photographer, and University of Massachusetts/Amherst Professor Emerita. Her photography credits include production stills for Unsolved Mysteries and the PBS series American Experience, Nova, and American Masters. Her photos have been published in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, and many other publications.

Excerpt from: The Brighton-Allston Historical Society's 2016 Spring Newsletter by Ronni Komarow. BAHS is an Affiliate of the UNESCO/UNITWIN Network. 

Below, a glimpse of Liane Brandon's exhibition, sponsored by The Friends of Faneuil Library, now on display through early June at the BPL's Faneuil Branch Gallery in Oak Square, at 419 Faneuil St., Brighton, MA 02135: 

Brenda Gael McSweeney's snaps of Liane Brandon's photographs on view at the Faneuil Gallery

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Celebrating the recognition of Intangible Cultural Heritage with Yaaminey Mubayi

We had the opportunity to interview Dr. Yaaminey Mubayi, a Founding Member of our UNESCO/UNITWIN Network, during her visit from New Delhi to Boston University’s WGS on March 16th. She spoke of her excitement that her nomination dossier concerning a community of metal workers was approved by UNESCO-Paris. The following observations are drawn from a personal interaction between Yaaminey, Dr. Brenda Gael McSweeney and Nicole Rizzo, as interpreted by the latter.

L to R: Nicole Rizzo, Kaatyaayani & Yaaminey Mubayi, Jaho King, Vrinda Varma
Yaaminey shared the following ideas:

The hand-based work of copper and bronze utensil making of the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru, a small urban settlement on the outskirts of Amritsar, India near the India-Pakistan border has gained national and international recognition through its inscription on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2014. For the first time, a traditional craft community’s metal work has received recognition from UNESCO as distinct from the performing arts in India. Yaaminey believes this is a first step, but a strong first step toward taking on the process of reviving a dying process of craft and intangible cultural heritage and achieving sustainability, through this recognition as the common heritage of humanity.

Contrary to the assumption that the significance of the Jandiala Thatheras lies in their overall uniqueness, perhaps their real value lies in the traditional knowledge systems, skills, craftsmanship, and overall manufacturing processes that have been passed down hereditarily for generations, she emphasized. Yaaminey went on to exclaim that the UNESCO listing beautifully encapsulates the craft and work ethic of Punjab as part of the intangible heritage complex of social, symbolic, and ritual practices (apart from the skills of making utensils). Yaaminey hopes this exciting victory will impact other crafts in India since there is a continual loss of skill and workmanship, where both Indian and global society are losing the whole complex of values, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding the manufacturing of craft and the sector of hand piece work.

Flourishing during the reign of the former monarch of Punjab, Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Thatheras’s vessels and utensils used to be widely utilized by the general public. Now they are increasingly marginalized due to the major manufacturing industries such as stainless steel and aluminum. Traditional craft was and is dying due to competition with a variety of industries and cultural resistance to hand piece craft. 

Yet, there is hope that the UNESCO recognition will increase the heritage value of craft. There has been a boost in tourism interest and of the local press within Punjab and India. The Punjab government has taken major steps so that hopefully more mechanisms will be put in place for organizations for crafts people that will help empower them. For Yaaminey, “the glass ceiling needs to be broken” so that the heritage value of craft can be recognized. 

Compiled by Nicole Rizzo from the 16 March interview with Yaaminey Mubayi and Yaaminey’s publications; photos courtesy Yaaminey

See also:

While in the Greater Boston area, Yaaminey also gave a seminar March 29th at Harvard University's South Asia Institute-Cambridge, MA on Water and Sacred Spaces: A Case Study of the Ellora-Khuldabad-Daulatabad Region.