Couscous declared by UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


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On 16 December 2020, meeting by videoconference, the Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), under the Presidency of Jamaica, approved the transnational application joining Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.

As the main argument of the joint application, the fact that the knowledge, practices and traditions related to the production and consumption of couscous in these countries have a transversal character that is part of their cultural heritage, being practiced by all the populations of the countries involved, of all genders, age groups, sedentary or nomadic, in rural or urban environments, including immigrants, and on different occasions: from everyday dishes to festive meals. Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO stated that: “This joint registration is a great achievement. It is a strong sign of cultural recognition and a real diplomatic success in such an important and symbolic theme for the peoples of this region and for many others. This agreement shows that cultural heritage can be both personal and exceptional and at the same time transcend borders. ”

Relating to APCA's activity within the project SABOREA, one of the sustainable gastronomic routes outlined, is precisely the Couscous Route - the fact of UNESCO's recent inclusion in it's list of the Humanity ICH is an asset that will enhance this specific content.

In addition to Madeira, two other Portuguese territories are known to have these practices and knowledge associated with couscous, these being the Island of Santa Maria, in Azores and Vinhais, in the Trás-os-Montes region. It is assumed that such practices and knowledge were "incorporated by Moorish influence and disseminated in these portuguese areas through the Maghreb invaders or Sephardic Jews who remained there, later as new Christians". In Madeira, it is a legacy of the Arab presence.

© 2020 APCA - Madeira