Patrimoine sans frontières (Cultural Heritage without Borders), official partner of UNESCO, is a French cultural and humanitarian organization created in 1992 with the support of the Ministry of Culture.
For the past 23 years Patrimoine sans frontières has specialized in breaching contexts (such as post-crisis situations and social exclusion). On a day-to-day basis we seek to mobilize the notion of cultural heritage as a means to respond to the demands of local populations.
Our goal is to enhance and strengthen social bonds through culture, especially in breaching contexts that threaten them or impeach their development. We believe in the importance of culture as a vector of dialogue that facilitates the reconstruction of these bonds. Being an essential component of a population’s identity, cultural heritage has to be the core of the sustainable development of populations. This vision frames the mission of the association and emphasizes the importance of cultural and intergenerational transmission, knowledge transfer and exchange amongst different cultural backgrounds.
Moreover, Patrimoine sans frontières’ mission is to raise curiosity by broadcasting knowledge related to cultural heritage through its “cellule veille”, its publications and its conferences.
Our activities focus on four areas: strengthening social bonds, rehabilitation and appropriation of cultural heritage, recovery of cultural heritage, and finally, intercultural exchanges.
In 1994, the association engaged in a program of rehabilitation of the Marubi photographic collection in Shkodra. This commitment in the Balkans was then further expanded in Albania and then to Kosovo through the restoration and conservation of cultural sites. Later, we also worked on raising public awareness and restoring the collective memory of the Chernobyl disaster in Belarus.
In West Africa, PSF collaborated with the Musgum people of Cameroon by helping them promote a traditional architectural technique and pass it on to young generations.
Concerned by the situation of the Japanese population of Tohoku after the earthquake that hit Japan in 2010, PSF decided to help promote Japanese culinary heritage in France.
The organization has also been working in Haiti since 2010 where it has been developing different projects in order to reinforce social bonds particularly through music, which holds a prominent role in Haitian society. Ever since, we have joined our forces with local organizations and institutions in order to develop a documentary film that is currently in progress.
Finally, PSF has also sought to fulfill its role in raising heritage awareness in France through projects such as “La maison de mon doudou” or “Patrimoine y es-tu?”. Patrimoine en partage is born after this long experience and developed into an entire program that focuses on the promotion of intercultural dialogue. For the past two years, an application of the program aims at helping young migrants in France develop bonds between their former and actual cultural environments. Different applications of this program are currently being developed in regions such as the Balkans and Lebanon in order to engage young generations in their role of cultural mediators.
The areas of intervention:
Our activities focus on four areas: strengthening social bonds, rehabilitation and appropriation of cultural heritage, recovery of cultural heritage, and finally, intercultural exchanges. The impact of each action is different, but our experience has shown us that the appropriation of cultural heritage (individual and universal) leads to the reconstruction of cultural identities and helps reduce tensions among social groups and engages them in a process of development.
In our vision of a shared cultural heritage, tensions between groups can be soothed and social bonds can be reinforced by emphasizing the role of culture in society.
We also envision cultural heritage in its dynamic process: conservation does not imply freezing time. On the contrary, heritage is perpetually reinterpreted and our actions must recognize and accompany these processes.
Cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, cannot be understood without considering its surroundings as it is the element that brings the past, present and future of a community together. The intrinsic relationship bonding a population to its cultural identity is therefore essential to its social development.
Heritage, tangible and intangible, spectacular and ordinary, is the essence of all the cultural expressions of a population. Cultural heritage is thus the primary source of perception between populations. Raising awareness on the value of the different cultural heritages through dialogue is the first means to bring people and communities together. Intercultural relations offer the possibility to broaden everyone’s horizon by discovering different interpretations of the world. This is all the more crucial in nowadays interconnected societies.