Accepted Paper:

The institutionalization of ethnological and intangible heritage by the laws of cultural heritage of the state and the autonomous regions of Spain  


Agustí Andreu (Universitat Rovira i Virgili)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes how the laws of the Spanish state (1) and of the autonomous regions of the Spanish state (17) regarding cultural heritage institutionalize the ethnological and intangible heritage and also analyses the different forms of protection provided by the law.

Paper long abstract:

The analysis of the law of cultural heritage in Spain indicates that, despite the current use of diverse terms (ethnological/ethnographical/anthropological), the characteristics that the different legislators attribute to ethnological heritage revolve around three basic axes: a) the relation of ethnological heritage to popular and traditional culture, b) its connection to a given territory and identity, and c) the association between ethnological heritage and intangible heritage.

The paper also studies the Basque law on Cultural Heritage (1990), which refers to "intangible ethnographic assets" and was thus the first to introduce the concept of intangible heritage to legislation regarding the cultural heritage of the Spanish state. In Spanish law, the notion of intangible heritage has, in addition to its association with ethnological heritage, the following characteristics:

1) The law aims to guarantee the transfer of heritage from a state of intangibility to one of tangibility to ensure that this type of heritage is preserved and transmitted over time.

2) The law aims to ensure that policies concerning heritage include the concept of intangible heritage, and it creates certain specific categories of protection, generally by adapting the names of existing categories that refer to the tangible heritage. Examples of such new categories are the terms Intangible Assets of Cultural Interest (Navarra) and Intangible Asset of Local Importance (Valencia).

Panel P47
Conceptual circulation of intangible cultural heritage in national policies and laws