Handbook of Cultural Economics, Third Edition
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Handbook of Cultural Economics, Third Edition

Edited by Ruth Towse and Trilce Navarrete Hernández

Cultural economics has become well established as a subject of interest for students and teachers of courses ranging from economics to arts administration as well as for policy-makers and practitioners in the creative industries. Digitisation has had a tremendous impact on many areas of the creative economy and the third edition of this popular book fully reflects it.
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Chapter 33: Intangible cultural heritage

Tiziana Cuccia


The chapter deals with intangible cultural heritage (ICH), based on the definition reported in the 2003 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention for the Safeguarding of the ICH. This definition covers a large range of material and immaterial expressions of local cultures, considered as a living cultural treasure for local communities. The reasons that – after almost 30 years from the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage – led UNESCO to focus on the preservation of ICT are explained. In particular, we consider the economic phenomena that threaten the survival of the immaterial culture widespread in the world; usually a tacit knowledge, transmitted with difficulty through codified procedures and protected by intellectual property rights. The economic reasons that justify the preservation of ICH are investigated, underlining the role that ICH can play in fostering creativity and innovation. The real enforcement capacity of UNESCO Conventions, and other local and national policies, are discussed.

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