Heritage without borders


Merima Bruncevic, Associate professor at the Department of Law, discusses the issues of cultural heritage without borders in her new book published by Routledge - Regulating Transnational Heritage - Memory, Identity and Diversity.

- What does Transnational Heritage mean? What made you interested in this question?

The term “transnational heritage” in cultural heritage law is most commonly employed to denote heritage that exists across national borders, e.g. the Silk Road or the collective architectural work of Le Corbusier. It is also used to refer to shared intangible heritage, such as culinary cultures, crafts and rituals that are shared by several nations e.g. the Mediterranean culinary tradition. In my book, I use it to discuss the regulation of cultural heritage where there is no community recognised in law that it can be directly attributed to and where the claim of ownership is disputed between two or more peoples or communities.

-        What are your most important conclusions in the book?

The overall conclusion is a critique of law. Law only seems to recognise three types of communities that cultural heritage can be attributed to: nation states, Indigenous peoples and recoginised minorities. Transnational heritage that challenges the idea of monolithic and mono-cultural communities is not regulated. Another conclusion is that heritage created in multi-cultural societies is exposed to risk and neglect, and with that the existences of entire communities might be made invisible.

-        How can they be used?

I use the conclusions both in order to discuss new forms of regulation, as well as how to create inclusive museums and cultural institutions.


Merima Bruncevic’s research fields are intellectual property law, cultural heritage law and legal philosophy. Bruncevic have studied the concept of the cultural commons and the possibilities of introducing such a concept to law or giving it a legal platform.