Looking back on the 2015 Riga Seminar devoted to intangible cultural heritage
This post was originally published in French on November 8, 2015.
The seminar that took place in Riga, on the 29th of June 2017 chose a broad perspective to encompass the diversity of legal issues raised by the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, and include in its scope cultural heritage law, environmental law, human rights law and intellectual property law,
This event sponsored by the International Society for Research on Art and Cultural Heritage Law was organized within the framework of the Osmose research program “Building a research network on intangible cultural heritage law” managed by the Latvian Academy of Culture and the Institut des sciences sociales du politique in cooperation with visiting researchers.
This international research seminar brought together renowned and young researchers. The event featured the following speakers: Kristin Kuutma, Janet Blake, Harriet Deacon, Émilie Terrier, Vadims Mantrovs, Christian Hottin, Noé Wagener, Jérôme Fromageau, and Marie Cornu, and the following moderators: Sanita Osipova, Daina Teters, Dace Bula, and Anita Vaivade.
INTRODUCTORY TEXT TO THE SEMINAR
(by Émilie Terrier, Anita Vaivade and Noé Wagener)
Intangible cultural heritage as a phenomenon has been present in various national legislations long before the adoption in 2003 of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, still the global outreach of the conceptualization of this notion is a recent process, it responds to a strong international impulse. The results of this impulse in national laws can seem at first harmonized, as they make direct references to the concepts and tools used by the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, but these results are also remarkably diverse in respect of the legal issues they have raised and the connections they have established and strengthened with other fields of law.
The present seminar proposes an exploration of the different legal aspects of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, it emphasizes two themes: (A) reflections undertaken in national legal systems, such as amendments to existing legal texts, enactment of laws, or even a refusal to legislate, and (B) recognition, interpretation, implementation of subjective rights linked to the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage, and the identification of their holders, whether these rights are bestowed upon individuals, groups or communities – to use the distinction made by the 2003 Convention – or eventually to other stakeholders. Special, although not exclusive, attention will be paid to European national experiences, as they not only manifest regional connections, but they also present significant disparities in the approaches and strategies elaborated to safeguard intangible cultural heritage.
Both themes constitute an overall framework to question the relationship between intangible cultural heritage law and other fields of law, inter alia, (a) cultural and natural heritage law, (b) environmental law, (c) human rights law, and (d) intellectual property law. The study of national legal texts and their interconnections, as well as their interpretation by case law and by administrations, or through the narratives of communities, groups or individuals – will also be discussed by researchers interested in both intangible cultural heritage and legal sciences.
The present international research seminar is organized as part of a research project seeking to create a common methodology to compare national experiences, approaches, and strategies establishing and developing national, regional and local legal instruments to safeguard intangible cultural heritage. Speakers are invited to consider and explore possible problematic aspects, when setting a frame and criteria for this comparative study. The development of a methodology is currently based on the conceptual contribution of legal philosophy, legal semiotics, and on the considerations of comparative law, but it still remains open to new analytical insights or propositions, that could strengthen this interdisciplinary approach and advance a common reflection.