A Definition of Cultural Heritage: From the Tangible to the Intangible

The aim of this work is to analyse the evolution of the concept of cultural heritage in West European states. In the last decades of the 20th century, the term “heritage” was characterised by expansion and semantic transfer, resulting in a generalisation of the use of this word, frequently used in the place of another, such as monument and cultural property. However, all these terms are not able to cover the same semantic field. Starting by the reflection on the semantic evolution of the notion of cultural heritage in France, we approach to the international definition of heritage given by the directives, charters and international resolutions in order to define a global outline of the meaning of heritage that is not just limited to a particular national dimension. From a purely normative approach, one went to a less restrictive approach, one based on the capacity of the object to arouse certain values that led the society in question to consider it as heritage and therefore, to a further step in which heritage is no longer defined on the basis of its material aspect. This development has also made it possible to recognise intangible cultural heritage, which was ignored for a long time, as heritage to be protected and safeguarded.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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