What is cultural heritage? And what does it mean (or not mean) to share it with other overlapping ethnicities and cultures in the region?

If you didn’t attend the S’Art Urban Arts Festival in June 2023 held here in Battambang, you might have missed out on the panel discussion “Understanding Shared Cultural Heritage beyond Modern-Day Boundaries in the Mekong Region.” The panel included a range of experts from UNESCO and the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and included participants from Cambodia, Thailand, and Japan.

The panel hoped to answer the plethora of related questions around what it means to share heritage across cultural conventions in Southeast Asia and to clarify some common misunderstandings around what shared cultural heritage and identity mean within such a crossroads of civilizations.

Watch the video below to catch the whole panel discussion:

Video Summary

If you’re short on time, here’s a brief summary of the panel discussion.

The panel shed light on what shared heritage means across cultural conventions and panelists led a fact-based discourse that clarifies common misunderstandings around who can claim to “own” a piece of cultural heritage that’s common to several groups or countries.

Recently, public sentiments have been tense on social media surrounding the discussion of shared cultural identity and heritage. Arguments often arise around the origin of certain forms of art or which country or ethnic group “owns” a given cultural artifact or practice.

In this discussion, the panelists cultivated a deeper understanding of the region’s shared cultural heritage and encouraged mutual recognition and respect for each other’s cultures. The panel discussion also fielded and answered questions from artists, festival guests, and community members in Battambang.

Watch UNESCO experts at the S’Art Festival discuss shared cultural heritage in the Mekong region

Photo credit: Juliette Deloron

About the Panelists

Dr. Linina Phuttitarn from UNESCO in Bangkok, Thailand

Dr. Linina PHUTTITARN is a UNESCO-accredited facilitator for capacity-building workshops for intangible cultural heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region with experience in Thailand, the Philippines, Pakistan, Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, and the People’s Republic of China. She has worked with national and international partners on projects related to cultural heritage and sustainable development, community-based inventorying and safeguarding, education, global citizenship, and cultural tourism.

At Chulalongkorn University, she teaches cultural policy and cross-cultural communication. Her field research has focused on participatory-based approaches to safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. She is also a co-founder and co-host of WiTcast, a Thai edutaining podcast program on pop science and social sciences.

Dr. Nagaoka Masanori from UNESCO in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Dr. NAGAOKA Masanori, Head of the Culture unit, UNESCO Office in Cambodia, obtained his Ph.D. in Heritage Studies from the University of Tsukuba in Japan and an MA degree in Archaeology & Art History from Columbia University in New York, USA. He has 20 years’ experience in the Culture sector of UNESCO at both headquarters (World Heritage Centre) and field offices (Indonesia, Afghanistan, and Cambodia).

Dr. Nagaoka has engaged in projects in all fields of the UNESCO Culture sector, which include the safeguarding of both tangible and intangible cultural heritage, cultural diversity and creative industry promotion, and cultural policies for sustainable development. His latest publication as editor-in-chief is “The Future of the Bamiyan Buddha Statues – Heritage Reconstruction in Theory and Practice,” Springer in 2020.

Ms. BUN Sreivy from the Cambodia Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts

Ms. BUN Sreivy earned a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) in Phnom Penh in 2015 and a Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art from SOAS University of London in 2019. Sreivy has been with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts since 2017, and she is now an assistant to the Director General of Techniques for Cultural Affairs. She has coordinated numerous cultural seminars and events, as well as other projects such as documenting national inventory lists and assisting in the revitalization of cultural heritages.

Dr. Nisit Intamano from Sripatum University in Bangkok, Thailand

Panel Moderator: Dr. Nisit INTAMANO is the Assistant Professor and Director of the School of Law of Sripatum University, Bangkok. He has more than 20 years of experience as a lawyer and legal advisor. He has also served as an Associate Judge at the Central Intellectual Property & International Trade Court of Thailand. His expertise includes alternate dispute resolution, dispute settlement by arbitration, intellectual property law, international trade and investment law, and contracts and transactional law.


Promoting and building a deeper understanding of the Mekong Region’s shared cultural heritage was a key theme of the S’Art Urban Arts Festival.

Whether you watched it in person or online, we hope you enjoyed this panel discussion and learned something new about the arts and culture of Cambodia within the context of Southeast Asia.


Want to be part of exciting art festivals and events like S’Art in the future? Join Phare Ponleu Selpak as a volunteer and get first-hand experience changing lives through the arts.


Bryce W. Merkl Sasaki at Phare Ponleu Selpak
Bryce W. Merkl Sasaki works as the Communications & Media Manager at Phare Ponleu Selpak. He believes in the transformative power of the arts to make us fully human and fully alive. In his free time, he writes poetry and is working on a science fiction novel.