Basel Carnival project, preserving intangible cultural heritage

Basel Carnival project, preserving intangible cultural heritage
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Basel Fasnacht (carnival) is a large festival that has inspired the population and artists of this city into active participation, not only during carnival time but also all year round. The city’s population uses this festival to vent their real opinions in a humorous and colourful way and to act and behave differently from their normal day to day live. For three days a year Basel lives in a different world.

UNESCO, the specialized agency of the United Nations for education, science and culture, maintains lists of selected customs, arts and buildings worthy of protection and increased attention. Basel Fasnacht is on UNESCO‘s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

A new project with private-public partnership is being launched to help preserve this heritage and especially the “Schnitzelbank”, a storytelling written in verse in dialect (Baseldeutsch) and recited, that talks about the grievances and events of the past year. All verses are to be understood in the light of their respective political-social background as a source of their time. Not only humour but also the general use of language, dominate perspectives and socio-cultural understanding are subject to the historical context: people today find other things funny and appropriate than ten, twenty or even a hundred years ago. And vice versa: what was once considered fun may seem platitudinous or out of place today. The danger is that the contemporary witnesses become rare.

The project unfolds with the creation of a Web-Archive that is conceived as a combination of Archival materials, Living Archive and Information Website. It is realized with collaboration of University of Basel, the Schnitzelbank Commitee and the company Virtual Culture.

Download a presentation of the project (PDF, 3 Mb)
e-Archive – Schnitzelbank
For the protection of an essential part of the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage Basel Carnival
by Vera Chiquet, Christian Weber, Peter Fornaro

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