A number of things are currently going on in Switzerland that make this website relevant. One is directly related to banking secrecy and the hypertrophied tradition of Swiss direct democracy. It consists in a popular initiative to preserve citizens’ privacy, including the secrecy provisions is Swiss banking law, called “Yes to the protection of the private sphere”. Whether or not this initiative comes up for a vote, and whether or not it is accepted, it is a clear indication that Swiss banking secrecy is a form of intangible cultural heritage that is near and dear for many Swiss citizens (though we should mention that the Swiss Bankers Association did not support this initiative). Our satire turns out to be not so satirical after all.
More to the point, perhaps, Switzerland has begun the process of nominating various elements of its national list for inclusion on the UNESCO list of “Intangible Cultural Heritage Representative of Humanity”. The first of these will be the charming tradition called the Grape Harvest Festival, celebrated in Vevey. This provides the perfect occasion for talking about the whole idea of lists, of intangible heritage and of the role of tradition in Swiss society, today and in the future.
We want to be ready for this occasion with an alternative list, one that thinks seriously about what allows Switzerland to function as a society, for better or for worse, with all of its blemishes and its crimes. We want modernity, bureaucracy, industry and urban life to be parts of this picture, alongside harmless pagan rituals, the batting of odd bits of metal, and, of course, yodeling.
Thus, we are hereby launching a call for ingenious, imaginative, fresh and fine items of Intangible Satirical Heritage to figure on our Alter-Inventory. All suggestions should be addressed to the wonderful team of ISH specialists featured on our “Who ?” page.