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Commodification, Intellectual Property and the Quilters of Gee's Bend

22 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2008  

Victoria F. Phillips

American University - Washington College of Law

Abstract

This paper explores the story of the quilters of Gee's Bend, Alabama. It traces the emergence of these isolated, disenfranchised craftswomen as both fine artists and the unlikely purveyors of mass-marker consumer culture through commodification based on the power of intellectual property rights. It then looks to recent trends in commodification literature to help explore the tensions and dualities presented in the story. Among other things, it asks whether the quilters have been coerced into the marketplace and are unwittingly alienating part of their identity, or whether they have willingly tapped the power of the marketplace to ultimately better their lives and community. The paper suggests that the unique story of the quilters of Gee's Bend may be instructive to inform both the current debate in commodification literature and the ongoing search for a more nuanced approach to our intellectual property laws.

Keywords: intellectual property rights, commodification

Suggested Citation

Phillips, Victoria F., Commodification, Intellectual Property and the Quilters of Gee's Bend. American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, Vol. 15, p. 357, 2007; American University, WCL Research Paper No. 08-44. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1123544

Victoria F. Phillips (Contact Author)

American University - Washington College of Law ( email )

4300 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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