Research Handbook on Contemporary Intangible Cultural Heritage
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Research Handbook on Contemporary Intangible Cultural Heritage

Law and Heritage

Edited by Charlotte Waelde, Catherine Cummings, Mathilde Pavis and Helena Enright

Bringing together key insights from expert legal and heritage academics and practitioners, this book explores the existence and safeguarding of contemporary forms of intangible cultural heritage (ICH). Providing a detailed analysis of the international legal frameworks relevant to ICH, the contributing authors then go on to challenge the pervasive view that heritage is about ‘old’ tangible objects by highlighting the existence, role and importance of contemporary forms of ICH to modern society.
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Chapter 2: Contemporary ICH: between community and market

Fiona Macmillan


Until the twenty-first century, the distinction between tangible and intangible heritage appears to have given very little trouble to the ICOMOS-UNESCO heritage discourse. Its focus on the tangible, fixed or moveable, denominated as heritage by reference to a set of intangible values, provided a neat way of dealing with the tangible/intangible distinction, without losing the overwhelming occidental focus on the tangible heritage object. The 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage changed all this, but also created new uncertainties about the nature of intangible cultural heritage and the best way of protecting it. These uncertainties are particularly acute in relation to intangible cultural heritage as a contemporary phenomenon, which not only presents an intrinsic challenge to the ICOMOS-UNESCO heritage discourse but also seems particularly likely to have some overlap with the type of cultural creativity that is subject to the competing protection of the intellectual property regime.

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