Journal Article

“Italian Hours”: The globalization of cultural property law

Lorenzo Casini

in International Journal of Constitutional Law

Published on behalf of The New York University School of Law

Volume 9, issue 2, pages 369-393
Published in print April 2011 | ISSN: 1474-2640
Published online April 2011 | e-ISSN: 1474-2659 | DOI:
“Italian Hours”: The globalization of cultural property law

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Nothing in Rome helps your fancy to a more vigorous backward flight than to lounge on a sunny day over the railing which guards the great central researches. It “says” more things to you than you can repeat to see the past, the ancient world, as you stand there, bodily turned up with the spade and transformed from an immaterial, inaccessible fact of time into a matter of soils and surfaces.

—Henry James, Italian Hours, “A Roman Holiday,” 1909

Cultural property offers a significant yet ambiguous example of the development of global regulatory regimes beyond the State. On the one hand, traditional international law instruments do not seem to ensure an adequate level of protection for cultural heritage; securing such protection requires procedures, norms, and standards produced by global institutions, both public (such as UNESCO) and private (such as the International Council of Museums). On the other hand, a comprehensive global regulatory regime to complement the law of cultural property is still to be achieved. Instead, more regimes are being established, depending on the kind of properties and public interests at stake. Moreover, the huge cultural bias that dominates the debate about cultural property accentuates the “clash of civilizations” that already underlies the debate about global governance. The analysis of the relationship between globalization and cultural property, therefore, sheds light on broader global governance trends and helps highlight the points of weakness and strength in the adoption of administrative law techniques at the global level.

Journal Article.  13514 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law ; UK Politics

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