Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage at Luang Prabang, Lao PDR

Author: Nalinthone Phannolath

Phannolath, Nalinthone, 2023 Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage at Luang Prabang, Lao PDR , Flinders University, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Terms of Use: This electronic version is (or will be) made publicly available by Flinders University in accordance with its open access policy for student theses. Copyright in this thesis remains with the author. You may use this material for uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968. If you are the owner of any included third party copyright material and/or you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact with the details.


This thesis explores the impact of UNESCO World Heritage status on the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) elements in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. Focusing on three significant elements - the Royal dance (Fone-Nang-Keo), Lacquerware handicrafts (Xanamkieng), and Luang Prabang stew (Or-lam), the study argues that these elements have been indirectly influenced by the UNESCO brand. Through qualitative methods, including in-depth interviews and analysis of secondary sources, the research reveals changes in knowledge transmission practices experienced by ICH practitioners. Additionally, it highlights the tendency to perceive these tangible ICH elements as tourist products rather than cultural heritage. While the development of new forms of economic capital in the heritage zone is the main factor that has constrained the practice of ICH, the thesis identifies insufficient support from relevant organisations as a potential challenge to the ongoing authenticity of the elements. The findings demonstrate the critical factors essential for sustaining the practices associated with ICH originating with practitioners and the government. Moreover, the study proposes a collaborative and sustainable approach to safeguarding ICH. It emphasizes the active participation of communities and individuals in identifying the value of heritage and contributing to its management. The establishment of an Intellectual Property (IP) system is highlighted to protect ICH rights and ensure public access. Funding, resources, and education are also emphasized to support ICH preservation. By integrating these principles, the paper aims to empower local communities, preserve cultural heritage, and promote its transmission for future generations.

Keywords: Intangible Cultural Heritage, Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, safeguarding, Fone-Nang-Keo, Xanamkieng, Or-lam.

Subject: Archaeology thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2023
School: College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Supervisor: Dr Martin Polkinghorne