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Portrait of the Artist as a White Man: The International Law of Human Rights and Aboriginal Culture

Australian Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 16, pp. 175-197, 1995

26 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2004  

Fleur E. Johns

University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law

Abstract

The collective and individual rights at stake in the legal protection of rights central to Australian indigenous peoples' cultural heritage and cultural practice are inseparable. Undue focus upon one set of rights may jeopardize the other. Indiscriminate exercise by indigenous and non-indigenous individuals of rights to freedom of artistic expression may be contested as cultural appropriation, or a misuse or violation of group rights. Equally, giving precedence to group rights might arguably justify cultural stagnation and the stultification of creative experiment - the cherishing of passive and protective cultural rights at the expense of ongoing cultural practice. This article will examine the degree to which international human rights law is able to negotiate these conflicts. It is argued in this article that the right of self-determination (conceived of as a broad, substantive right to the means by which choices and decisions can be made) is the best conceptual container to which to extrust the preservation and continuity of indigenous art and culture(s).

Keywords: International human rights law, indigenous peoples, cultural heritage, freedom of expression, self-determination

Suggested Citation

Johns, Fleur E., Portrait of the Artist as a White Man: The International Law of Human Rights and Aboriginal Culture. Australian Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 16, pp. 175-197, 1995. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=603241

Fleur E. Johns (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law ( email )

UNSW Australia
Sydney, New South Wales 2052
Australia
+61 2 9385 9893 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.unsw.edu.au/profile/fleur-johns

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