Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cultural Appropriation

6/13/17 Yahoo News:
Indigenous advocates from around the world are calling on a UN committee to ban the appropriation of Indigenous cultures — and to do it quickly.
Delegates from 189 countries, including Canada, are in Geneva this week as part of a specialized international committee within the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a United Nations agency.
Since it began in 2001, the committee has been working on creating and finishing three pieces of international law that would expand intellectual-property regulations to protect things like Indigenous designs, dances, words and traditional medicines.
The meeting takes place as concern grows worldwide about the rights of cultures to control their own materials. In the U.S. this week, designer Tory Burch agreed to change the description of one of her coats for women after Romanians protested that it had been described as African-inspired when it actually appropriated a traditional Romanian garment.
Okay, no electricity, glasses, snowmobiles, or steel for American Indians; those were cultural appropriations from white culture.  Having been through three major surgeries let me include the most important gift of our culture: general anesthesia.

More evidence that the UN has too much money.


  1. Also, no elementary schools, no high schools, no college or university. No writing. No math beyond simple arithmetic. No indoor plumbing. You must live either a nomadic hunter/gatherer lifestyle, or primitive agrarian, depending upon your tribe affiliation.

  2. I think a case can be made for providing trademark/copyright protection for specific designs originating in particular tribal cultures. Such work should not be freely pirated for cheap copies. Nor should some East Asian job shop manufacturer be allowed to sell its knockoffs as "Some-Tribe crafts".

    (I just saw an "Antiques Roadshow" episode with a woman who had a columnar wooden sculpture her mother had bought in a Bangkok antiques store. It was an imitation Northwest Indian totem pole, carved from Thai wood.)

    Many of these communities have little to call their own except their handicrafts, and shouldn't be subjected to outright copying. The big fashion brands have trouble stopping counterfeiters. What chance do backwoods villagers in Bali or Ecuador have?

    The lines get blurrier when one considers a style composed of a suite of elements (colors, textures, dimensions, materials, patterns), or work that was created anonymously.