Accepted Paper:

Intangible heritage in multi-national States: normative challenges in the case of Spain  


Ricard Zapata-Barrero (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the role of Unesco in the various processes involving the recognition of bullfighting and flamenco as Spanish and even world intangible heritage. These processes ignore the multi-national nature of the country. I focus on the Catalonian debates.

Paper long abstract:

Long abstract (max. 250 words)

My paper will explore two major debates in Spain on intangible cultural heritage: that on bullfighting and on flamenco, both already linked to 'hispanidad' by the Francoist regime and still very much present in the tourist and other "hetero-images" of Spain. Flamenco has been inscribed in Unesco's Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Bullfighting has been inscribed in Spain's national Unesco list.

I will argue that the cultural heritage policy involved does not reflect the multi-national nature of Spain, with multiple identities linked to territories and, in the case of some autonomous communities like Catalonia or the Basque country, to divergent national identities. In countries with divided and unresolved national identities questions, countries such as Spain, intangible cultural heritage turns easily into a political and social arena of conflict. I will look especially at the present debates on bullfighting and flamenco in Catalonia, including the tourist policies involved. Interestingly, the designation of bullfighting as Spanish national heritage has also been fiercely criticized by movements fighting for animal protection.

Panel Heri003
A threat to unification? Europe's nationalizing states and the UNESCO convention on intangible heritage