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 11: ICH and safeguarding: legal dimensions of safeguarding the ICH of nondominant and counter-culture social groups

Janet Blake


This chapter explores how far the 2003 UNESCO Convention for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH) can (and does) cover heritage of non-dominant and counter-culture social. It argues that a balance needs to be struck between State sovereignty and the need to recognize heritage meaningful to specific (often subaltern) social groups, many of which form a large part of popular and youth culture today. It examines the issues surrounding defining and recognizing such ICH and considers what they may imply for their safeguarding, in particular for the participative safeguarding model espoused by the 2003 Convention, taking the case of the gender dynamics of ICH safeguarding to illustrate these questions. It demonstrates the highly political nature of identifying and recognizing ICH elements and the complex and multi-layered character of the associated cultural groups and communities: which and whose cultural forms should be safeguarded as ‘ICH’ is a question that will need to considered over time as social attitudes change.

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