What is Cultural Heritage?

Cultural heritage is an essential part of human life. It satisfies people’s need to belong and find identity.

Cultural heritage can include artifacts (paintings, prints, mosaics, sculptures), historical monuments and buildings and archaeological sites. However, it is also about people’s knowledge and values. It is about traditions, dances and languages.

What is Cultural Heritage?

Whether it’s paintings, manuscripts or architectural monuments, cultural heritage is often an integral part of the identity of communities and individuals. This is why it’s essential that people and organisations are able to preserve these artefacts.

A lot of work is done at the national, regional and local levels to protect cultural heritage. This includes the implementation of national heritage policies and protection laws. There are also international initiatives and conventions, such as the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in Case of Armed Conflict.

These protect cultural heritage in all its forms and help people understand their past. It also allows them to meet their needs by providing a sense of belonging, identity and meaning in life. This is why it’s so sad when heritage is destroyed.

Definition of Cultural Heritage

Generally speaking, cultural heritage refers to the monuments, buildings, works of art and practices that a society uses to define itself and its history. But this definition is fluid and constantly evolving, as societies change how they view their past and their future.

This can make it difficult to categorize and protect cultural heritage materials. Tangible cultural heritage can include movable and immobile physical objects such as books, machines or works of art, while intangible cultural heritage is comprised of the broader cultural practices and traditions including languages, customs, beliefs, music and dances (such as the tango and flamenco), traditional craftsmanship, representations and rituals.

These traditions are often shared between cultures, even those far removed from each other in terms of space and time. Think about how Picasso’s work was influenced by Japanese prints or how Liberian homes were inspired by the neoclassical architecture of American plantations.

What is Tangible Cultural Heritage?

Tangible cultural heritage are physical artefacts that have a cultural significance in a society and that can be touched. These include buildings and historic places, monuments and other physical objects. It also includes artistic creations and traditional skills.

This category also encompasses archaeological sites. However, cultural heritage can also be found in the natural environment – flora and fauna as well as geological features have a part to play.

Understanding the close interconnectedness of tangible and intangible cultural heritage is central to conservation efforts. For example, the slaughter of whales that occurs in some countries is seen as an attack on a shared, global heritage. Preserving Indigenous languages is also an important aspect of protecting culture as it protects intangible cultural heritage and ensures that a person’s worldview is informed by their cultural history.

What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?

UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage includes local practices, representations, expressions and skills that are not tangible. This can include a wide range of traditions like oral history and expressions, folklore, music, dance and theatre, pantomime, artisanal techniques, social rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe and craftsmanship.

Singapore hawker centers, French baguettes and Congolese rumba have all made headlines in recent years for making UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. But what is it and how do these customs make the cut?

The main distinction is that ICH is ‘living’ – it must be actively transmitted from generation to generation, and the goal of safeguarding it is not to freeze these traditions in some pre-determined form, but rather to allow space for evolution. As a result, efforts to promote and protect this type of heritage are often carried out by communities themselves.

What is the Protection of Cultural Property?

Cultural heritage is the legacy of past generations and the way in which we can preserve our common humanity for future generations. It is a collective and ongoing effort of nations, international institutions and professional organizations to protect and safeguard cultural property from illicit trafficking, which often fuels corruption and armed conflict.

The UNESCO Convention and domestic US law provide normative mechanisms, but the effective application of these instruments remains a challenge. It is important to strengthen the capacities of intergovernmental organizations and international law enforcement agencies to better respond to these issues.

The destruction of irreplaceable cultural heritage during armed conflict deprives humanity of its shared history and contributes to crimes against humanity, including genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes. It is thus an obligation of all parties to the armed conflict to respect and protect cultural property.

Related Posts