The broad goal of this initiative is to advance understanding of the relationship between cultural commodification and indigenous peoples' political and economic autonomy. A three-day gathering will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia, in early 2013, to bring together key people working on this topic. A half-day public symposium on this theme will be followed by a two-day workshop where participants will explore these issues in more detail. The gathering will allow indigenous and non-indigenous participants to work together to develop new social, economic, and legal frameworks to support indigenous groups in their sovereign decision to engage or not in processes of cultural commodification, for what purpose, and under what conditions. The gathering will focus on themes related to cultural commodification, including the use of partnerships and contracts in developing markets for cultural products, the role of different institutions (e.g., government, academic) in commodification processes, the use of labeling programs to protect indigenous cultural heritage and artistic expression, and the role of international events (e.g., the Olympics) in encouraging commodification. Another product of the initiative will be a publication on this issue, edited by the workshop organizers and with contributions from workshop participants. This initiative is part of the broader Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH) Project hosted by Simon Fraser University.
The commodification of the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples is a significant concern across the globe. The response of indigenous groups to this process of commodification is varied, with some groups rejecting such processes altogether while others seek to use them to their advantage. New social, economic, and legal frameworks are needed to support indigenous groups in their sovereign decision to engage or not in processes of cultural commodification, and to determine the purposes and conditions under which commodification can take place.
There are no simple solutions to this challenge. What is needed, at this early stage, is more discussion between the groups involved in these commodification processes in order to begin developing a set of solutions that are flexible and adaptable. By organizing and hosting this gathering, with its strong focus on collaborative problem-solving, this initiative will help move these discussions forward.
We are seeking funding support to get this project off the ground. The total project budget is $20,000. We have secured $10,000 in base funding from the Intellectual Property in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH) project and need $10,000 in matching funds.