Who Owns Traditional Arts in the Pacific Islands?

Radio Australia posted a very interesting article by Caroline Lafargue that looks at the difficulties when determining the difference between misappropriation of culture and the modernization of traditional practice.

She points to a panel on indigenous culture and intellectual property that was held earlier this month (April 2015) during the Contemporary Pacific Arts Festival Symposium in Melbourne. Their main concern was to examine the questions about the ownership of traditional knowledge, as cultural arts find their way into an increasingly global world. Where does tradition end and modernity begin?

Indeed, even with the advent of the Internet, more and more traditional cultural expressions are being misappropriated and used out of traditional context. Many traditional practices were not meant to be shown on the Internet. Nevertheless, Lafargue focuses more on those who have used traditional knowledge without permission and profited from it in one way or another. She provides many intriguing examples of this throughout the article.

Collective licensing of indigenous cultural material is still not recognized worldwide.

In the Pacific, Niue and the Cook Islands stand out as notable exceptions. They’re the only two Pacific countries, so far, that have enacted national legislation protecting traditional knowledge, drawing on the Pacific model law on the protection of traditional knowledge and expressions of culture that was developed collaboratively with UNESCO, WIPO, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Council of Pacific Arts and finalized in 2002.

Indigenous intellectual and cultural property protection laws are still going through different stages of the drafting process in Fiji, Palau, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia.

Please take a few minutes to read the article. Click here.

peparingsamoafeastPreparing a feast- Samoa

About islandculturearchivalsupport

Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of records pertaining to the cultural identity of island peoples in Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia whose national and public archives, libraries, cultural centers, and business organizations are underprivileged, underfunded, and understaffed. The specific purpose for which this nonprofit corporation was formed is to support the needs of these South Pacific cultural heritage institutions by helping to preserve and make accessible records created for business, accountability or cultural purposes. The organization will endeavor to add value by providing resources or volunteers to advise, train, and work among island residents to support their efforts in building their future and preserving their collective memory through the use of modern archival techniques.
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