Book review: Who owns native culture - A book with an excellent website
Very interesting review by David Trigger in the August-edition of The Australian Journal of Anthropology. Michael F. Brown's book "Who Owns Native Culture?" discusses Indigenous assertions of ownership of cultural information. These can be in tension with the claims of non-Indigenous people who may wish to access particular sites and land areas, discuss certain areas of Indigenous knowledge without being censored etc. According to David Trigger, Michael Brown seeks a balance between 'the interests of indigenous groups and the requirements of liberal democracy'.
Michael Brown shows how this conflict is more complex than it might seem at first glance. Early in the book, he asks why the incorporation of native cultural forms should be defined as theft, when native peoples themselves (as with all societies) have selectively appropriated Christian and other symbols and religious practices. How does the ownership claim over usage of Indigenous cultural ideas and designs sit with the creative mixing of cultures often termed 'hybridity' or 'creolisation' by scholars? Are New Age adherents, for example, really guilty of 'blasphemy and cultural aggression', when embracing their own versions of such rituals as sweat-lodges (derived from certain North American Indian cultures)?
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The book has its own website with lots of news, articles, reviews and links related to the book! Excellent!!!!!!!!!
READ ALSO Indigenousness and the Politics of Spirituality where anthropologist Sabina Magliocco argues against cultural ownership: "Taken to its logical extreme, it leads directly to essentialization and racism"