This special issue investigates the political nexus of cultural life and the law, creative or artistic activity and permitted actions or statements. Cultural Rights has been a recognised legal concept since before the 1966 UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. However, as the 1966 Covenant demonstrated, separating the cultural from the social and civil is not straightforward, or rather, only apparently straightforward if articulated in terms of anthropological or sociological generalisations, which are not wholly useful. This collection of nine very different papers demonstrate how the ‘culture’ in Cultural Rights must be made specific and analytically useful for a ‘Right’ to be both credible and operational as a legal instrument or set thereof.
The special issue therefore aims to set out the legal terrain of Cultural Rights, interrogate its terms and conditions, and then to put into question how they pertain to specific forms of culture in specific places.