Congratulations to the contributors to, and editors of, the new issue of Museum Anthropology, which has just appeared online in Wiley Online Library. The issue focuses specifically on the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA).
An important working paper by my friend Dorry Noyes presenting alternatives to the conceptual oversimplifications common in cultural property and cultural heritage policy has just been circulated by the Interdisciplinary Research Group on Cultural Property at the University of Göttingen. Help make the argument even stronger with your comments and feedback here: http://www.cultural-property.org/2010/cp-101-how-traditional-culture-works
Lots to think with and work on.
[As noted in today’s AFS email newsletter] After a period of discussion and review, the American Folklore Society‘s Executive Board [on which I serve] has issued a public statement on recent Arizona immigration legislation. The Society will distribute this statement to relevant public officials and bodies in Arizona, and to other learned societies.
The statement reads:
The American Folklore Society, the US-based professional association for the field of folklore studies, with a membership of 2,000 people and institutions, and an annual meeting that draws more than 700 participants from around the world, has historically supported policies that prohibit discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation, and our field has long been concerned with the well-being of immigrant populations.
The Executive Board of the American Folklore Society takes notice of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, requiring all local law enforcement officials to investigate a person’s immigration status when there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the United States unlawfully, regardless of whether that person is suspected of a crime. We also take notice of Arizona House Bill 2281, that prohibits public schools in the state from offering, at any grade level, courses that advocate ethnic solidarity or cater to specific ethnic groups.
More than a century of research in the field of folklore studies (and in other fields in the humanities and social sciences) has detailed the cultural, political, and social impact of discrimination based on ethnicity, national origin, and race. Based on that research, the Executive Board of the American Folklore Society considers these laws just identified, and the ways they may be implemented, to be discriminatory.
The Executive Board of the American Folklore Society resolves that the Society will not hold a scholarly conference in the State of Arizona until such time that Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and Arizona House Bill 2281 are either repealed or struck down as constitutionally invalid and thus unenforceable by a court.
The second conference of the week was AcademiX 2010, an event sponsored by Apple and MacLearning.org (an Apple affiliate organization comprised of people interested in educational uses of Apple technology). The event’s complex structure made it a real learning experience for me. I had not previously participated in an event of this type. I was at Northwestern University, one of two primary sites for the conference. The other main site was at MIT. These two sites were connected with each other, with the Apple HQ in California, and with secondary sites at Duke University, San Diego State University, the University of Kansas, the University of Minnesota, and the University of New Mexico. Beyond these physical conference sites, there were a great many conference participants experiencing the conference online from their desktops. Video and audio linked all of these places and people together.
The focus of the event was “Learning in an Open-access World.” My mandate was to speak about academic open access in the scholarly communications sense relating to peer-reviewed scholarly literature, but the program was broader than this area. John Wilbanks (Creative Commons) spoke of “Commons-Based Licensing and Scholarship: The Next Layer of the Network.” Ben Hawkridge (Open University) presented “New Channels for Learning: Podcasting Opportunities for a Distance University.” Kurt Squire (University of Wisconsin-Madison) discussed the findings of his research on “Education for a Mobile Generation.” Nick Shockey (SPARC) presented “The Digital Natives Are Getting Restless: the Student Voice of the Open Access Movement.” In the final slot, Paul Hammond (Rutgers University and Richard Miller (Rutgers University) co-presented “This is How We Think: Learning in Public After the Paradigm Shift.”
Another exciting (for me) component of my March visit to the Cultural Property Research Group in Göttingen was my participation in a the first day of a two day workshop led by the members of the project’s sub-project titled “Constituting Cultural Property as Part of the International Law Regime, and its Development.” This research foci is directed by Professor Dr. Peter-Tobias Stoll (an international law scholar at Göttingen) and includes several talented doctoral students as researchers. Their sub-project description notes:
The discussions and negotiations of cultural property in the Intergovernmental Committee of WIPO are closely linked to other policy areas, institutions and regulatory realms. Among others, these include the long-standing efforts to arrive at a form of human rights protection for indigenous peoples, the international cultural policy pursued by UNESCO – the Conventions for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), developments in international law concerning the environment, and controversies in the World Trade Organization over protecting intellectual heritage. The interactions, and intersections, between these various efforts in international law are the subject of this sub-project. In doing so, what is at issue is a forward-looking analysis of internal compatibility and the linkage in terms of process with other regulatory realms, as well as the development of corresponding methods. The knowledge obtained from individual cases here can be used to create a more general means of regarding the international law regime, one which is characterized by increasing differentiation and a need to coordinate the individual sub-realms that have developed. (source)
In the March 19-20, 2010 workshop led by the sub-project group and participated in by the larger Cultural Property Research Group as a whole, the aim was to describe research findings to date, to articulate them with the models and findings developing in other sub-projects, and to bounce these ideas off of a group of guest scholars visiting for the occasion. The topics considered on these days included: (1) International Trade Law and Cultural Diversity, (2) Fragmentation, and (3) International Negotiations in Different Fora, Regimes, and Organizations. The two main guests invited were Michael Hahn of the University of Lausanne and Nele Matz-Lück of the MPI Heidelberg. I was able to participate in the opening session in which Stoll described very effectively the state of play in these related domains of international law vis-a-vis the work of the sub-group and the total project as a whole. This was followed by a rich set of commentaries by the two special guests and a very fruitful discussion by all of the participants.
I was struck by two aspects of this experience. One was the very effective degree to which the various sub-projects of the overall project were contributing very fruitfully to one another, despite considerable difference in disciplinary backgrounds and norms (in economics, social anthropology, folklore/ethnology, and law). The other was the remarkable effectiveness of the institutions that the group has developed for communicating internally and externally and for moving the research process forward fruitfully despite the size and complexity of the undertaking. As was true throughout my visit, my participation in the International Law Workshop was instructive in both substantive ways and in terms of what it taught me about organizing large and ambitious collaborative research projects.
In an earlier post, I mentioned my attendance at one day of a conference in Hannover Germany called “Commons, Users, Service Providers: Internet (Self-)Regulation and Copyright.” The theme on the day (March 18, 2010) that I attended was “Commons-Free Software, Free Content, Open Access.” Now that I am trying to catchup on a a year’s worth of academic loose ends (our semester is just now ending) I wish that I could offer a fuller report of the conference. I think that I will need to settle for a comment or two and a word of thanks.
I especially benefited from a couple of presentations. One of these was “GNU GPL Version 3: The Law Making Process” by Eben Moglen, a professor of law at Columbia University. Professor Moglen has been very involved in the development of the GPL and he spoke of it in light of the ways that such arrangements represent a kind of non-governmental international law-making framework. He described the approach used in GPL3 as emphasizing new and general language that does not provoke default assumptions in any particular national jurisdiction. Other presenters spoke of other pathways toward internationalizing other IP/copyleft instruments. He was ill and unable to attend in person but prepared a very remarkable video that he sent to the conference. I hope that it is placed online as it would standalone very well even though it addressed the conference and conferees directly.
The two other presentations that I will mention were “Creative Commons International: Achievements and Perspectives” by Catharina Maracke and “Linux, Wikipedia and Other Networks: Governed by Bilateral Contracts, Corporations, or Something in Between?” by Dan Wielsch. Professor Maracke is the former director of Creative Commons International. She is now teaching at Keio University in Japan. He talk was a great overview of the approach that has been taken in internationalizing the Creative Commons toolkit. In contrast to the GPL, this has involved creating local versions for each national jurisdiction. Professor Wielsch teaches at the University of Cologne and his talk described research on the evolution of community governance in massive collaborative content production projects such as Wikipedia. While a subject that numerous people have been discussing in recent years, his presentation was clear and effective. As a non-specialist I learned a lot from it and from many of the presentations.
(Strangely, the area where I had the most background–open access–was the focus for the only presentation that, it seemed to me, was the most out of sync with the spirit of the day’s discussions and most contrary with my own understandings and views of the topic.)
As the first formal academic conference that I have ever attended in Germany, the even was very instructive. While mostly native German-speakers, the audience and presenters controlled and used perfect English. I both appreciated this fact (at a practical level) and found it a source of guilt (as an advocate of linguistic and cultural diversity).
I was in Germany as a guest of the DFG Cultural Property Research Group at the University of Göttingen and was hosted at the Hannover Conference by Mr. Philipp Zimbehl and Professor Dr. Gerald Spindler. I wish to extend my appreciation to them and to my overall hosts Professor Dr. Regina Bendix and Ms. Arnika Peselmann.