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A Spanish Village Wants UNESCO World Heritage Status for Chatting Outside

Can we also apply for a World Heritage Status for gossip culture?
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A small village in Spain wants the world to consider its pastime of chatting outdoors as an unquestionably unique and astounding cultural heritage that should be recognized as a cultural treasure, a Guardian report reveals. 

According to the mayor of Algar, the purpose of the application is to protect the centuries-old tradition of conversing face to face. “This is the opposite of social media,” said Mayor Joe Carlo Sanchez. 

Elderly Spanish Men Chatting Outdoors

Photo by Shutterstock.

Sanchez has submitted an application to UNESCO to consider his town’s hobby of chatting outdoors as part of the prestigious list of the intangible cultural heritage of the world. 

Intangible cultural heritage is a practice, skill, expression, knowledge, or representation considered by UNESCO to have outstanding universal value. It remains to be seen whether UNESCO will agree that chatting outside the home has outstanding universal cultural value. 

But what makes it different from the outdoor chatting of Filipino gossipers in the streets and alleys of every corner of the Philippines?

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Is chismosa culture also an intangible cultural heritage that could hope to gain UNESCO World Heritage Status?

Does the topic of their conversations add any weight to being considered as cultural heritage?

For chismosa culture and outdoor chatting to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, they have to be of outstanding universal value, exhibit an important interchange of human values, and bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization, among other things. 

Some practices that have become part of that UNESCO catalog are Italy’s Neapolitan pizza making, and a grass mowing competition in Bosnia.

Photo by Shutterstock.

But in a pandemic world where everyone is advised to stay indoors and limit face-to-face conversations, it remains to be seen how Algar can keep its outdoor chatting culture alive. 

Nevertheless, Mayor Sanchez is hopeful. 

“Residents come out onto the street and instead of feeling that they’re alone, what they get is a therapy session. They share their stories or the problems they’re going through and the neighbors try and help,” he tells The Guardian.

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“So far I haven’t received any criticism, it’s been very positive.”

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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