Accepted Paper:

Legal ground: metaphysical place for heritage making  


Anita Vaivade (Latvian Academy of Culture)

Paper short abstract:

Legal ground is a metaphysical place where social world is put into legal terms. They serve as categories linking human experiences to potential legal considerations. The paper examines the case of intangible cultural heritage, confronting universal legal language to local perceptions.

Paper long abstract:

Law has a significant role within the process of heritage making. It is a tool for naming and identifying things in the broadest sense of this word. Law provides definitions, descriptions and criteria for linking human experiences to adopted legal terms as the ones being in force, that is to be applied, interpreted and explained. Legal ground is certainly shifting. It can reflect a change of paradigms and a query for varied ways of naming and identifying. Nevertheless, it remains enforced at the time of its application.

The concept of cultural heritage has a variety of modes described by law. It is internationally recognized and experiences a growth of its use. At the meantime there are more and more challenges as its international use is confronted to local linguistic experiences.

The functioning of categories provided by law depends significantly on the experience of language. In other words, certain categories might be misused or misunderstood only because of unfamiliar choice of legal terms. In a certain way, this is the case of the concept of intangible cultural heritage that can be perceived as having breathtaking success on international level, but that also has significant challenges on local levels where choices of terms used can be based on different grounds.

The paper examines what are the consequences of the invasion of international law within languages that differ considerably and have diverse histories and experiences of using legal terms.

Panel P312
Making heritage, making knowledge