All cultural manifestations in the world, including food and music, derived from the cultural practices developed by the first Homo sapiens who inhabited the Earth. But, with so many cultural manifestations, which ones need protection? Should the same theory be adopted as the one which seems to be used by Geographic Indication systems and other forms of protection? How does cultural diversification occur? How do cultural manifestations increase, spread, or decline and how can such a decline be avoided? How does one detect whether a product is an example of cultural heritage to be protected and not a mere fashion or creation of single individuals? Here we discuss the nature of cultural heritage by answering these questions for Afro-Caribbean music and culinary art. At the same time, we reveal some misconceptions regarding evolution attributable to Biology, and which have been largely neglected by Biologists while being kept alive by some social scientists (e.g. social Darwinists). Cultural heritage studies used to extrapolate general theories from single case studies, have generated too many theories based on poor evidence. We, on the other hand, rather more coherently, bring together more than 80 examples of music and food into one single theory, able to be tested and perheps improved upon by further research. Six characteristics and principles of the theory are derived from the fact that cultural heritage is passed down from one generation to the next: (1) Conservative reproduction, (2) intra-generational variability, (3) transformation over time, (4) exposure to forces causing trends to proliferation - and decline, (5) exposure to forces leading to territorial expansion - and contraction, and (6) rise of new culture from previous ones. We provide examples of how a new cultural heritage can arise from previous ones by means of: (a) mingling with ther cultural heritage of other peoples, (b) unforseen innovation by creative individuals, and (c) geographically mediated differentiation. Inventions made by single individuals or families and non-inherited from previous generations are not to be considered "heritage" and should be protected under other denominations. Cultural manifestations that suffer a decline in practitioners through the generations need to be protected by means of legal, technical, educational, and even marketing practices gaining acceptance from the new generations who should be considered the key to the preservation of any heritage.
Keywords: Afro-Caribbean music, cultural evolution and diversification, food specialties, geographical indications, meme-theory
Jel Code: D12