Basque Ethnopôle

The National Commission for Ethnological Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage has awarded in june 2017 the "Ethnopôle" label to the consortium formed by the Basque Cultural Institute (ICB) and the School of Higher Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS).


After working on numerous subjects related to natural and cultural heritage and tangible and intangible heritage (creation in 1994 of a permanent commission of heritage, a work group composed of people from these different sectors), the Cultural basque institute’s heritage centre has been focusing since 2007 on the intangible cultural heritage and two more specific areas of action:

  • The oral heritage

Taking advantage of the 2007-2013 Territorial Contract, in 2007, the Basque cultural institute launched the ELEKETA programme for the compilation of oral heritage. As of Decembre 31, 2017, 317 testimonies have been filmed. In 2011, it commited itself to process the Basque sound and audiovisual collections digitized by the Conseil départemental des Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Little by little, it has become a reference in the field of oral, sound and audiovisual archives.

  • The link with contemporary creation

Working on oral heritage generates questions, such as "what are people doing today, especially artists, with this tradition? What do they keep? What do they reject? Why?" In 2012, a discussion group composed of administrators, professionals of the Basque cultural institute and artists began to discuss the challenges of cultural creation in the Basque Country. With the scientific support of the ethnologist Denis Laborde, in 2014, this group initiated the observation and analysis of five creative projects with the purpose of nurturing discussions among cultural actors who were involved in similar projects. They repeated the experience in 2015 with two half-days of exchanges, testimonies and working groups, and in 2016 with a conference on "tradition, trap for conviction? ».

The development of its action in these fields (oral heritage and reflection on creation) allows the Basque cultural institute:

  • to become a laboratory for memory and creation
  • to develop collaborations that associate cultural action and research
  • to be recognized in 2017 with the "Ethnopôle" label, a research and resource centre in ethnology