Wanjina and Wunggurr: The Propertisation of Aboriginal Rock Art Under Australian Law

SOZIOLOGISCHE JURISPRUDENZ. FESTSCHRIFT FÜR GUNTHER TEUBNER ZUM 65. GEBURTSTAG, pp. 275-297, Gralf-Peter Caliess, Andreas Fischer-Lescano, Dan Wielsch and Peer Zumbansen, eds., De Gruyter, May 2009

25 Pages Posted: 22 May 2010

See all articles by Christoph B. Graber

Christoph B. Graber

University of Zurich, Faculty of Law; Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University

Date Written: May 20, 2009

Abstract

The paper discusses the recent refusal of the Australian Federal Court to assure a native title right for the Aboriginal community in the Kimberley area of north-western Australia to object to any visual or auditory recordings or reproductions of what is to be found at sacred Wanjina and Wunggurr sites. This paper first aims to shed light on the collisions between the land-tied cultural traditions of the Wanjina-Wunggurr community and modern law from the perspective of “propertisation,” a theory which is currently gaining ground in legal and sociological discussions. Second, the relationship between the common law doctrine of native title and intellectual property (IP) law is analysed and the shortcomings of both concepts and further legal remedies in effectively protecting and preserving the sacred rock art sites are identified. Finally, these shortcomings are reflected against the backdrop of recent developments at the level of international law in the field of indigenous peoples’ rights and cultural expressions.

Keywords: Australian Aborigines, Intellectual Property, Native Title, Cultural Heritage, Traditional Cultural Expression, Propertisation, Shared Sovereignties, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, WIPO

JEL Classification: K11, K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Graber, Christoph B., Wanjina and Wunggurr: The Propertisation of Aboriginal Rock Art Under Australian Law (May 20, 2009). SOZIOLOGISCHE JURISPRUDENZ. FESTSCHRIFT FÜR GUNTHER TEUBNER ZUM 65. GEBURTSTAG, pp. 275-297, Gralf-Peter Caliess, Andreas Fischer-Lescano, Dan Wielsch and Peer Zumbansen, eds., De Gruyter, May 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1611811

Christoph B. Graber (Contact Author)

University of Zurich, Faculty of Law ( email )

Treichlerstrasse 10
Zurich, 8032
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.rwi.uzh.ch/lehreforschung/alphabetisch/graber_en.html

Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: https://cyber.harvard.edu/people/cgraber

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