Authenticity and Its Implications for Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Case Study of the Dance Genre Egyptian Raqs Sharqi

Valeria Loiacono

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (SciVal)


The 2003 UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage allows dance to be officially recognized as heritage and included in UNESCO’s heritage lists. Authenticity is one of the conditions that UNESCO requires for the recognition of monumental heritage (regulated by the 1972 UNESCO Convention) but it does not feature among the requirements for the award of ICH status. The reason being that authenticity is a problematic concept, which reflects power dynamics, has often been used for political aims and can lead to the freezing of ICH into immutable forms. Moreover, authenticity is particularly problematic for dance, because dance is embodied, changeable and transcultural. Nevertheless, the 2003 Convention on ICH contains implicit references to authenticity and this concept still seems relevant to the communities who engage with such heritage. This makes authenticity a topic worth exploring to investigate if a fluid, dialogical and community-centered understanding of it can be provided. Research on Egyptian raqs sharqi, with data gathered through a qualitative methodology (using interviews and analysis of videos and texts available online), provides a case study that shows how the tangible and intangible elements of heritage contribute to the authenticity discourse constructed by an international community of Egyptian raqs sharqi practitioners in the twenty-first century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-324
JournalHeritage and Society
Issue number3
Early online date14 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Authenticity
  • belly dance
  • dance
  • intangible cultural heritage
  • raqs sharqi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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