8. The Space of the Gong Culture in the Central Highlands of Vietnam: Old and New Directions in Ede Traditional Music
Vincenzo della Ratta [+]
Centre Asie du Sud Est
This chapter illustrates how the perception of cultural landscapes has likewise been shaped by the UNESCO Intanglible Cultural Heritage debate. The Central Highlands of Vietnam are an area inhabited by about twenty different ethnic groups belonging to two different linguistic families, but connected by their similar traditions and music. Factors such as colonization by the French, three Indochina Wars, governmental mass resettlement policies, and the đổi mới (“renovation”) policy adopted by the central government in 1986 have all contributed to drastically affect the traditions of the indigenous ethnic groups of the Central Highlands. Gong music, traditionally conceived as a means through which man can communicate with the supernatural world and therefore played only in ritual contexts, is no exception to this rule. In 2005 UNESCO declared the Space of Gong Culture of the Central Highlands of Vietnam as Intangible Cultural Heritage, with the aim of safeguarding and preserving the endangered gong culture of the area. This chapter aims to clarify the role and function of gong music in a modern context, by analysing a musical performance held for tourists by an ethnic Ede troupe of musicians and dancers.