Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-489z4 Total loading time: 0.286 Render date: 2022-05-18T07:04:48.350Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

How to manage cultural space: An agonistic analysis of artistic moral rights

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 November 2021

Feyoena Crommelin
Faculty of Law, VU University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Olaf Tans*
Amsterdam University College & Centre for the Politics of Transnational Law, VU University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
*Corresponding author; Email:


This article analyzes the debate between the proponents and opponents of artistic moral rights and, more specifically, the right of integrity as recognized in the Berne Convention, with the aid of agonistic political theory. Envisaging art as a site of antagonistic struggle, the right of integrity is conceived of as a state-backed mandate to claim an inviolable place for artistic work, founded on a Romantic notion of authorship. The plea against the entrenchment of this right is considered a counter-hegemonic response that challenges this notion in favor of an unfettered development of art and its surrounding discourse. As such, this debate seems to revolve around a conflict of alleged interests – those of artists, of art’s public, and of art itself. It is argued that insights into the discursive behavior of rights, and, by extension, into the effect of rights discourses on antagonistic struggle, are needed to foster this debate.

© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Abrams, M. H. (1953) 1971. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Adler, Amy M. 2009. “Against Moral Rights.” California Law Review 97, no. 1: 263300.Google Scholar
Barthes, Roland. 1977. “The Author Is Dead.” In Image Music Text, edited and translated by Heath, Stephen, 142–48. London: Fontana Press.Google Scholar
Bird, R. C. 2009. “Moral Rights: Diagnosis and Rehabilitation.” American Business Law Journal 46, no. 3: 407–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bonadio, Enrico. 2020. “Preserving Street Art and Graffity: Can the Law Reconcile the (Often Conflicting) Rights of Artists, Property Owners and Local Communities?” In Research Handbook on Art and Law, edited by McCutcheon, Jani and McGaughey, Fiona, 194208. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boot, Eric R. 2017. Human Duties and the Limits to Human Rights Discourse. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brooks, Eric M. 1989. “‘Tilted’ Justice: Site-Specific Art and Moral Rights after U.S. Adherence to the Berne Convention.” California Law Review 77, no. 6: 1431–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brown-Pedersen, Jonas. 2018. “The Inadequacy of UK Moral Rights Protection: A Comparative Study on the Waivability of Rights and Recontextualisation of Works in Copyright and Droits D’auteurs Systems.” London School of Economics Law Review 3: 115–28.Google Scholar
Connolly, William E. 1991. Identity/Difference: Democratic Negotiations of Political Paradox. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Crang, Mike, and Thrift, Nigel, eds. 2000. Thinking Space: Critical Geographics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Crowther, Paul. 2007. “Space, Place, and Sculpture: Working with Heidegger.” Continental Philosophy Review 40, no. 2: 151–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dikeҫ, Mustafa. 2012. “Space as a Mode of Political Thinking.” Geoforum 43: 669–76.Google Scholar
Foucault, Michel. 1991. “What Is an Author?” In The Foucault Reader, edited by Rabinow, Paul, 101–20. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
Glendon, Mary Ann. 1991. Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political DiscourseNew York: Free Press.Google Scholar
Gramsci, Antonio. 1971. Selections from the Prison Notebooks, edited and translated by Hoare, Q. and Smith, G. N.. New York: International Publishers.Google Scholar
Hansmann, Henry, and Santilli, Marina. 1997. “Authors’ and Artists’ Moral Rights: A Comparative Legal and Economic Analysis.” Journal of Legal Studies 26: 95143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heidegger, Martin. 1973. “Art and Space.” Translated by Seibert, Charles H.. Man and World: An International Philosophical Review 6, no. 1: 38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Honig, Bonnie. 1993. Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Hunt, Alan. 1990. “Rights and Social Movements: Counter-Hegemonic Strategies.” Journal of Law and Society 17, no. 3: 309–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Laclau, Ernesto, and Mouffe, Chantal. 1985. Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics. London: Verso.Google Scholar
Lefebvre, Henri. 1976. “Reflections on the Politics of Space.” Antipode 8, no. 2: 3037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Levine, Caroline. 2002. “The Paradox of Public Art: Democratic Space, the Avant-Garde, and Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc.” Philosophy and Geography 5, no. 1: 5168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lewis, Jessica. 2016. “With Love and Kisses: Nothing Lasts Forever: An Examination of the Social and Artistic Antiquation of Moral Rights.” International Journal of Cultural Property 23: 267–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Litowitz, Douglas. 2000. “Gramsci, Hegemony, and the Law.” Bingham University Law Review 2000, no. 2: 515–51.Google Scholar
Marmor, Andrei. 2007. Law in the Age of Pluralism. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McNeilly, Kathryn. 2016. “After the Critique of Rights: For a Radical Democratic Theory and Practice of Human Rights.” Law and Critique 27: 269–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Merry, Sally E. 1994. “Courts as Performances: Domestic Violence Hearings in a Hawai’i Family Court.” In Constested States: Law, Hegemony and Resistance, edited by Lazarus-Black, Mindie and Hirsch, Susan, 3559. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
Merryman, John H., Elsen, Albert E., and Urice, Stephen K.. 2007. Law, Ethics and the Visual Arts. 5th ed. Alphen aan de Rijn: Kluwer Law International.Google Scholar
Mills, Lindsey. 2011. “Moral Rights: Well-Intentioned Protection and Its Unintended Consequences.” Texas Law Review 90, no. 2: 443–65.Google Scholar
Mouffe, Chantal. 1993. The Return of the Political. London: Verso.Google Scholar
Mouffe, Chantal. 2000. The Democratic Paradox. London: Verso.Google Scholar
Mouffe, Chantal. 2005. On the Political. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Mouffe, Chantal. 2007. “Artistic Activism and Agonistic Spaces.” Art & Research 1, no. 2: 15.Google Scholar
Prowda, Judith B. 2013. Visual Arts and the Law: A Handbook for Professionals. Burlington, VT: Lund Humpries, in association with Sotheby’s Institute of Art.Google Scholar
Rancière, Jacques. 2010. “The Paradoxes of Political Art.” In Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics, edited and translated by Corcoran, Steven, 134–51. New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
Rigamonti, Cyrill P. 2006. “Deconstructing Moral Rights.” Harvard International Law Journal 47, no. 2: 353412.Google Scholar
Schmitt, Carl. 1996The Concept of the Political. Translated by Schwab, George. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Wijnberg, N. M. 1997. “Art and Appropriability in Renaissance Italy and the Netherlands in the 17th Century: The Role of the Academy.” De Economist 145, no. 2: 139–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

How to manage cultural space: An agonistic analysis of artistic moral rights
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

How to manage cultural space: An agonistic analysis of artistic moral rights
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

How to manage cultural space: An agonistic analysis of artistic moral rights
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *