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
Date Written: May 20, 2009
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: Suggested Citation