The panel invites to reconsider the conceptual circulation of "intangible cultural heritage" in national policies and laws, and to examine in what ways the existing heritage concepts, policies and laws, are reshaped and questioned by novel political and legal choices on intangible cultural heritage.
The concept of intangible cultural heritage has been actively circulating worldwide for almost a decade since the adoption of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. It is introduced in national and local policies and has become a key for new legislative initiatives, and these processes are still actively undergoing. The panel envisages to question the close and lively interconnection between the political and legal choices made and their cultural contexts, including the existing heritage concepts, policies and laws. In other words, what cultural explanations we might give for policy-making and legislative differences we observe within the domain of intangible cultural heritage, and how to valorize the existence of these differences as being culturally significant? Even though global cultural policies conceptually overtake national and local efforts, cultural particularities and local traditions of conceptualizing cultural heritage remain significant and decisive in the way how national heritage policies and laws are being developed. In this perspective, the conceptually highlighted dichotomy of tangible and intangible cultural heritage is arousing novel policy and legal solutions. How states where cultural heritage policies are dominantly oriented towards the protection and conservation of tangible cultural heritage, are assimilating the new concept? The worldwide conceptual unification in the domain of cultural heritage causes reconsideration of existing perceptions and challenging former traditions of thinking and policy-making. Does this lead towards universal language or towards losing culturally shaped differences of conceptualizing?