Since ratifying the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008, Swiss cultural authorities have taken its innovative cultural philosophy to heart. Despite the central role of tradition and folklore in the history of this country, federal and cantonal actors in the field of ICH have moved resolutely away from an archivistic approach and towards the newly coined (and in some ways oxymoronic) concept of “living traditions”. Based on five years of research into this process, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, this paper analyses the making of Swiss Living Traditions in historical and anthropological perspective. It pays particular attention to the institutional processes behind the creation of the national inventory in 2012 and to the selection of 8 ICH items for the UNESCO ICH List. It explores the forms of expertise that contributed to these processes and the impact they could have on the continuity of living traditions in the future. The absence of specific mechanisms for archiving these traditions highlights some of the contradictions at the heart of this global cultural framework.