Cultural Property Defined, and Redefined as Nietzschean Aphorism

23 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2012

See all articles by Tatiana Flessas

Tatiana Flessas

London School of Economics - Law Department

Date Written: March, 29 2012


How is a piece of "cultural property" distinguished from other sorts of valuable historical or artistic material? This question underpins many of the disputes regarding the ownership of cultural property, and is indeed a threshold question that often contributes to delays in addressing the substantive proprietary issues. At present, conflicts are engendered by confusion regarding whether a particular object is "cultural property" or not; on a more general level, and in the climate of increasing protection for cultural artifacts, the concept of what may be "cultural property" is itself in flux. As the field expands, practitioners and academics experience increasing difficulty because of the confusion in this area. This article proposes an underlying organizing schema that may aid in identifying the class of objects that make up cultural property. Rather than proposing a further or expanded description of objects to be listed in the definitions sections of the major conventions and treaties addressing cultural property, the approach taken here is to look at the values that these definitions embody in order to understand the difference between "cultural property" and the art works, artifacts, and practices that are not protected by these legal instruments.

Keywords: cultural property, law, Nietzsche, definition

Suggested Citation

Flessas, Tatiana, Cultural Property Defined, and Redefined as Nietzschean Aphorism (March, 29 2012). Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 24, No. 2, 2003, Available at SSRN:

Tatiana Flessas (Contact Author)

London School of Economics - Law Department ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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