Seminar on Intangible Cultural Heritage for Food Storage in the SAARC Region

1. Background

Seminar on Intangible Cultural Heritage for Food Storage in the SAARC Region was approved by the Thirteenth Meeting of the Governing Board of the SAARC Cultural Centre held from 28th to 29th November 2023 and at the Fifty-Ninth Session of the Programming Committee Meeting held in Kathmandu from 6th to 7th March 2024.
Food storage refers to the process of keeping food items safe and fresh for consumption over an extended period. It involves storing food in a suitable environment to prevent spoilage and contamination and maintain its nutritional value. The methods of food storage/preservation include refrigeration, the use of storage containers etc.
Food preservation, on the other hand, is the process of treating food in a way that prevents or delays spoilage caused by micro-organisms or other factors. Food preservation methods include drying, salting, pickling, fermenting, smoking or using chemical preservatives to extend the shelf life of food.
Food storage/preservation has been integral to South Asian culture for centuries. Traditional food storage/preservation practices encompass a wide range of techniques that preserve food for longer periods and enhance its nutritional value and flavour. Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) for food storage/preservation in the SAARC Region is imbued with tradition and culture. Traditional food storage/preservation knowledge generated a culture that has become part of human history. The SAARC Region has a rich food storage/preservation heritage that has stood the test of time. However, with the advent of modern food storage/preservation systems, these traditional practices are slowly dying away, putting our intangible cultural heritage at risk.
Thus, this seminar aims to promote the appreciation of traditional food storage/preservation practices, a reminder to embrace our traditional practices and preserve our cultural identity. Through discussions and analysis of case studies, the seminar will explore effective methods for transmitting and preserving traditional food storage/preservation practices.
The seminar is designed for two days, inviting papers from experts, academics, scholars and practitioners of traditional food storage/preservation methods from the Member States.

2. Research Questions

The Seminar aims to address the following research questions:
2.1. What is the impact of the evolution of food storage/preservation practices on the food culture of the SAARC Region?
2.2. What is the role of oral traditions in passing down the intangible heritage of food storage/ preservation?
2.3. In what ways were food storage/preservation practices traditionally divided among genders?
2.4. How can communities safeguard the intangible cultural heritage related to food storage/preservation?
2.5. What are the changes made by modern food storage/preservation methods towards diet and nutritional values when compared to the traditional methods of food storage/ preservation practices?

3. Objectives

The main objectives of the Seminar are as follows:
3.1. To investigate how oral traditions contribute to the cultural significance of food storage/preservation practices;
3.2. To examine how gender roles evolved and what their impact is on the current traditional food storage/preservation practices;
3.3. To identify the challenges and threats communities face in preserving these practices and how can they overcome them;
3.4. To explore in what ways, have modern preservation methods affected the traditional techniques of food storage/preservation in terms of diet and nutritional value of the foods;
3.5. To provide a platform for networking and knowledge exchange, facilitating the spread of these practices and encouraging their incorporation into modern lifestyles.

4. Methodology

The Seminar will be a blend of theoretical discussions and practical case studies, making it an enriching and interactive experience for the participants.
4.1. Speakers will do oral presentations to share their expertise and insights on the subject.
4.2. Assign session chairs to introduce speakers, manage Q & A sessions and ensure the smooth flow of the Seminar.
4.3. Virtual options will be available for those participants unable to attend physically.

5. Outcomes

The expected outcomes of the Seminar are the following:
5.1. An increased understanding of the significance of traditional food storage/preservation as part of intangible cultural heritage.
5.2. Development of potential partnerships to support traditional food storage/preservation practices in the SAARC Region.
5.3. Generation of new initiatives aimed at safeguarding and promoting traditional food storage/preservation techniques.
5.4. Dissemination of best practices, case studies and research findings within the SAARC Region through the publication of papers presented at the Seminar and uploading them online on the SAARC Cultural Centre website for free global access.

6. Sub-themes of the Seminar

6.1. Traditional Techniques and Knowledge of Food Storage/Preservation
The traditional techniques of food storage/preservation have been developed over centuries to preserve food for a longer period. These techniques vary from region to region like smoking, drying, pickling, fermenting etc. This session seeks contributions that explore the different methods of food storage/preservation practised in the SAARC Region.
6.2. Intersections of Food Storage/Preservation Practices with Cultural Identity and Heritage
Food storage/preservation practices are deeply intertwined with cultural identity and heritage preservation. This session encourages papers that reflect the values, beliefs and traditions of a community, making them an integral part of cultural heritage.
6.3. Oral Traditions Related to Food Storage/Preservation Methods
Oral traditions related to food storage/preservation methods are an integral part of cultural heritage. This session welcomes papers exploring the oral traditions that give insight into the cultural significance of food storage/preservation practices and their role in the community.
6.4. Sustainability and Resilience of Traditional Food Storage/Preservation Practices in the Modern World
Traditional food storage/preservation practices have stood the test of time and have proven to be sustainable and resilient in the modern world. This session seeks contributions that highlight these aspects of traditional food storage/preservation practices.
6.5. Gender Roles and Traditional Food Storage/Preservation
Gender roles have a significant impact on traditional food storage/preservation practices. In many cultures, women are responsible for processing and storing food. In this session, we seek contributions that address the division of labour that has resulted in different techniques and methods of food storage/preservation.
6.6. Revival and Preservation of Endangered Food Storage/Preservation Practices
There is a recent trend of revival of these practices due to their cultural significance and sustainability. Efforts are being made to preserve and promote endangered food storage/preservation practices to keep their cultural heritage alive. In this session, we welcome papers that examine the role played by various organizations and communities to preserve and promote endangered food storage/preservation practices.
6.7. Community-based Approaches to Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage Related to Food Storage/Preservation
The community-based approach to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage related to food storage/preservation is crucial for preserving these practices. Organisations and communities are coming together to document and promote traditional food storage/preservation practices. This session welcomes papers that explore active community participation in knowledge sharing.

7. Participants

7.1. Officially Nominated Participants from the Member States
The SAARC Cultural Centre invites all Member States to send a maximum of Five (5) Official Nominations of experts working on the abovementioned themes from their respective countries for the Seminar. The participants may be selected from diverse disciplines among academics and policy-makers including but not limited to archaeologists, art historians, conservators, curators, museologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and heritage site managers. The SAARC Cultural Centre would provide local hospitality (Hotel accommodations on a full board basis) and local transport to all Official Nominees of the SAARC Member States.
7.1.1. The airfare of the Official Nominees of the SAARC Member States is to be borne by the respective Member States.
7.1.2. The Host Member State can nominate a maximum of 15 Official Nominees. All Official Nominees of the Host Member State will be provided with the seminar kit. Official Nominees from the Host State will be provided with accommodation if required depending on the availability of the budget.
7.1.3. All Official Nominees must present a paper at the Seminar.
7.2. Other Participants from the Member States
Category A
7.2.1. The SAARC Cultural Centre would also accept the participation of other experts from the Member States (other than the Official Nominees of the respective SAARC Member States).
7.2.2. Applications should be sent through the respective Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Ministry of External Affairs to the SAARC Secretariat.
7.2.3. The selection of Other Participants (Category A) will be at the discretion of the SAARC Cultural Centre based on the availability of space and the relevance of the abstract to the Seminar themes.
7.2.4. Air Travel is to be borne by the participant and SCC will provide accommodation (depending on availability) and a seminar kit.
Category B
7.2.5. Participants from the Host Member State (The Islamic Republic of Pakistan) where the seminar is held can participate. (It is anticipated that researchers, academics, etc., from the host city will present papers at the seminar).
7.2.6. Other Paper Presenters (Category B) from the Host Member State (The Islamic Republic of Pakistan) will not be provided with travel and accommodation.
7.2.7. Other Paper Presenters (Category B) will receive the seminar kit and meals during the Seminar.
7.2.8. Virtual Participants -Participants unable to attend the seminar physically can join virtually.
7.3. Officials of the SAARC Cultural Centre –The Director, Deputy Director of Research (officiate the Seminar) and two other officials from SCC will attend this event.
7.4. Additional Information
7.4.1. Registration Forms of all participants (Official Nominees, Other Participants Category A and B) must be channelled through the respective Ministry of Foreign/ External Affairs of the Member States and the SAARC Secretariat to SCC.
7.4.2. The language of the Seminar is English. All abstracts and presentations should be in English.
7.4.3. The SAARC Cultural Centre reserves the right to select the Other Participants (in Category A and B) for the seminar.
7.4.4. The seminar facilities (delegate kit, tea, working lunch) as well as invitations to special events and the field trip would be extended to all participants.
7.5. Nomination Process
7.5.1. The Official Nominees will be selected by each Member State comprising leading academics, archaeologists and other experts from the Member States. Official Nominations should be submitted to the SAARC Secretariat, with the Registration Form (Annexure 1– to be filled for both Seminar and Research Grant) and the Format for the Submission of Papers/Abstracts (Annexure 2-Only for the Seminar) attached (or downloaded from the SCC website) and the details requested below.
7.5.2. All Other Participants (Category A) from each Member State are requested to forward their information (including Annexure 1 & Annexure 2) through the respective Foreign Ministries to the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu.
7.5.3. An advance copy can be emailed to sccpublications@gmail.com, dd-research@saarcculture.org
7.6. All Participants should include:
7.6.1. Full Name and Affiliation of the Person and other details requested in the Registration Form attached herewith. (Registration Form – Annexure 1).
7.6.2. Detailed CV of the participant.
7.6.3. Scanned copy of Passport / Scanned copy of National Identification from the Participants of the Host Member State.
7.6.4. An Abstract (350 words) of the proposed paper. The Abstract should be submitted in the Submission Form attached herewith. (Format for the Submission of Abstracts – Annexure 2)
7.6.5. The participants are requested to submit their full papers by 20th August 2024 and prepare a PowerPoint Presentation of 15 minutes maximum to be presented during the SAARC Seminar.
7.7. Participants who want to apply for the Seminar or the Research Project Grants or Both may do so by ticking the correct box in Annexure Form-1 (Registration Form)
7.8. Time Schedule for the Seminar Paper Submissions
The deadline for accepting Nominees & Participants 20th June 2024
Selection of Abstracts & Informing Participants 25th June 2024
Submission of full papers to be published before the seminar 20th August 2024
Seminar (TBA)September 2024

8. Dates- (TBA)September 2024

9. Venue of the Seminar -Pakistan

10. Focal Person at the SAARC Cultural Centre

Dr. Bina Gandhi Deori, Deputy Director (Research)
Email: dd-research@saarcculture.org/sccpublications@gmail.com