Sonia Catrina, Cyril Isnart
“Cultural heritage” is a complex notion, having evolved over time from the “legacy of the father” to the “legacy of a particular group”, to finally expand and become the “legacy of the entire humanity.” The new devel- opments in “heritage” are due to the UNESCO International Conven- tions which updated the definition of heritage, by incorporating the vari- ous changes which occurred lately under the incidence of globalization, deindustrialisation, post-colonialism and touristification. It was the 1972 “Convention on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage” that stated the “outstanding universal value” of heritage and its profound signifi- cance “for all of humanity.”
Regardless of its established attributes or features: material/tangible (from monuments, historic buildings and religious landscapes, to docu- mentary, artistic, ethnographic, scientific, social, industrial or technical items) or immaterial/intangible (from mythologies, customs and festivals to spiritual memories), cultural heritage is supposed to relate to the iden- tity of a specific community. It refers to presumed shared values and “collective memories” (Halbwachs, 1952), being an instrument of identi- ty legitimization. Therefore, it is supposed to play a social and political role, towards the cultural domain (Lowenthal, 1985; Harvey, 2001; Smith, 2006; Poulot, 2006).