At the limits of Cultural Heritage Rights? The Glasgow Bajuni Campaign and the UK Immigration System: A case study

Emma Hill (Lead Author), Mairead Nic Craith, Cristina Clopot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2003, the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage formalised provision for forms of heritage not solely rooted in the material world. This expanded the scope and accessibility of cultural heritage rights for communities and groups. To much commentary and critique, the UK has infamously not ratified the 2003 ICH Convention. This paper examines the implications of the UK’s decision not to ratify the Convention for the cultural heritage and human rights of a minority, asylum-seeking group in Glasgow, Scotland. Based on participatory ethnographic fieldwork with the group and analysis of their asylum cases, it makes two observations: first, that the UK’s absence from the Convention establishes a precedent in which other state actors (i.e. immigration authorities) are emboldened to advance scepticism over matters involving Intangible Cultural Heritage; second, that despite this, limitations in current provisions in the 2003 ICH Convention would provide the group with little additional protection than they currently have. Developing these observations, we critique current UK approaches to ICH as complicit in the maintenance of hierarchies and the border. Finally, we consider the extent to which the current provisions of the 2003 ICH Convention might be improved to include migrant and asylum-seeking groups.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-58
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Cultural Property
Issue number1
Early online date19 Mar 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Mar 2018


  • intangible cultural heritage
  • human rights
  • cultural rights
  • asylum seekers
  • Bajuni
  • Somali
  • immigration


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