The Properties of Culture and the Politics of Possessing Identity: Native Claims in the Cultural Appropriation Controversy
6 (2) Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 249 - 285.
Reprinted in Elspeth Cameron ed,. Multiculturalism & Immigration in Canada: An Introductory Reader (Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press, 2004) 133-158.
Abbreviated version reprinted in Karen Engle and Dan Danielson, eds., After Identity: Essays in Law and Culture (New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, 1995) 251-272.
Another abbreviation reprinted in Bruce Ziff, ed., Borrowed Power: Issues of Cultural Appropriation (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1997) 75-96.
Patty Gerstenblith ed., Art, Cultural Heritage and the Law (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 2004) 541-545 and in the Second Edition (2008) 596-99.
37 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2014
Date Written: 1993
The West has created categories of property, including intellectual property, which divides peoples and things according to the same colonizing discourses of possessive individualism that historically disentitled and disenfranchised Native peoples in North America. These categories are often presented as one or both of neutral and natural, and often racialized. The commodification and removal of land from people’s social relations which inform Western valuations of cultural value and human beings living in communities represents only one particular, partial way of categorizing the world. Legal and cultural manifestations of authorship, culture, and property are contingent upon Enlightenment and Romantic notions built upon a colonial foundation. I will argue that the law rips apart what First Nations peoples view as integrally and relationally joined, but traditional Western understandings of culture, identity, and property are provoked, challenged, and undermined by the concept of Aboriginal Title in a fashion that is both necessary and long overdue.
Keywords: Intellectual property, Property, Colonialism, First Nations, Authorship, Culture
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