La Follette Edits Essay Collection on Cultural Ownership

“Negotiating Culture: Heritage, Ownership, and Intellectual Property,” a new volume edited by associate professor of art history Laetitia La Follette that examines the question of who owns culture, has been published by the University of Massachusetts Press.

The book includes essays by several UMass Amherst faculty, including Stephen Clingman, English, Oriol Pi-Sunyer and H. Martin Wobst, anthropology, Margaret Speas, linguistics, and Banu Subramamiam, women, gender, sexuality studies.

“Negotiating Culture” contains a series of case studies in cultural ownership by scholars from a range of fields—explores issues of cultural heritage and intellectual property in a variety of contexts, from contests over tangible artifacts as well as more abstract forms of culture such as language and oral traditions to current studies of DNA and genes that combine nature and culture, and even new, nonproprietary models for the sharing of digital technologies. Each chapter sets the debate in its historical and disciplinary context and suggests how the approaches to these issues are changing or should change.

Each author recognizes the social dimensions of group ownership and demonstrates the need for negotiation and new models. The collection as a whole thus challenges the reader to reevaluate traditional ways of thinking about cultural ownership and to examine the broader social contexts within which negotiation over the ownership of culture is taking place.

The book is available in a paper edition for $22.95.