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 4: Contemporary ICH and the right to exclude

Sarah Harding


This chapter focuses on rights in intangible cultural heritage (ICH) by looking at a series of questions. First, what can be said about the parameters and evolving definition of cultural heritage? Second, what is the nature of rights in ICH? Third, do these rights extend to the prohibition of cultural appropriation? And fourth, what particular challenges are presented by more contemporary ICH?  The point of this chapter is not to provide complete answers to all these questions; indeed, others have devoted much thought and scholarship to these issues. Rather my intent is to make clear that we need to be careful about casting rights in ICH too broadly. Moral and pragmatic arguments suggest caution in trying to frame cultural rights as possessory and all acts of cultural appropriation as misappropriation. Contemporary ICH provides the perfect backdrop for a deeper look at these questions.

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