World Archaeological Congress


Newsletter: Volume 27 April 2009

Contributions to the next WAC Newsletter due 18th May 2009

Archaeologists Without Borders Workshop

Report on the website of the World Archaeological Congress

Archaeologies of Art Podcast Series Launched!

Call for WAC members to nominate Indigenous people

World Archaeological Congress honors Larry Zimmerman

Dr Andree Rosenfeld

Recommendation on ERA Draft Quality Ranking

WAC-6 Media Releases

WAC-6 Closing Ceremony Speech

Portuguese WAC-6 Media Releases

German WAC-6 Media Releases

Spanish WAC-6 Media Releases

Turkish WAC-6 Media Releases

Czech. WAC-6 Media Release on Iran



Cultural Heritage & Indigenous Cultural & Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual Property Issues in Archaeology

Addressing the Needs of a Changing World Through Negotiated Practice

In recent decades, new interpretations of cultural property rights have prompted a paradigm shift in the policies and practices of archaeologists and cultural heritage practioners, including, for example, the passage of such major legislation as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in the United States. However, a topic of even greater challenge and scope in coming years is likely to be intellectual property rights , a topic that concerns both the process and products of archaeology, and which involves all stakeholders in the archaeological record. Researchers may well find themselves increasingly limited in the freedom to use scientific knowledge or indigenous sources of knowledge . At the same time, descendant communities (including non-Indigenous peoples) have legitimate concerns about the procurement, dissemination, and exploitation of their "traditional knowledge" and other products of their respective pasts (e.g., symbols, technology).

As commodification of cultural pasts and claims over uses of the past continue to expand, questions about sharing the benefits of research and concerns about unauthorized or commercial uses of knowledge , images, stories, and designs will persist and fuel debate, if not lawsuits. Significant changes have also occurred in the process of doing archaeology, as members of descendant communities become more directly involved in the study of their own cultural legacy. However, much of the knowledge produced by archaeology still contributes to a relatively select group, without benefits returning to source communities.

How archaeologists respond to these intellectual property challenges has the potential either to transform the discipline of archaeology and its relations with stakeholders in positive ways or constrain the quest for more equitable and productive relations.

This lecture will explore this set of issues by addressing three related topics. The first is to illustrate how intellectual property issues are emerging in such areas as (a) research designs, protocols and permissions, (b) concerns over research on human remains or potential appli­cations of genetic data, (c) commodification or appro­priation of archaeological imagery, oral histories, technologies and other forms of past knowl­edge, (d) dissemination of archaeo­logical data and databases by museums, (e) archaeo­tourism, and (f) censorship or control over uses and interpretations of archaeological data.

The second topic focuses the need to recognize that archaeology (and related discipline) works best as a negotiated practice that recognizes the concerns of all stakeholders, and the fact that they often have different goals, values, and responsibilities regarding the practices and products of archaeological research. Here, the need for new processes of, and protocols for dealing with intellectual property issues will help to ensure a more equitable relationship between these stakeholders when it comes to intellectual and material property issues.

The last topic is to introduce the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage Project , an international, multidisciplinary initiative designed to track intellectual property conflicts around the world, identify both points of conflict and examples of successful resolutions, and provide a foundation of knowledge, research, and tools to assist archae­ologists, descendant communities, and other stakeholders in negotiating more equitable and successful resolutions and policies regarding intellectual property issues in archaeology.

George Nicholas

George Nicholas is Professor of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada. From 1991 to 2005, he directed SFU's internationally known Indigenous Archaeology Program in Kamloops , BC . Since moving to British Columbia in 1990 from the United States (he is an American citizen), Nicholas has worked closely with the Secwepemc and other First Nations. His research focuses on intellectual property rights and archaeology, Indigenous archaeology, the archaeology and human ecology of wetlands, hunter-gatherers past and present, and archaeological theory, all of which he has published widely on. He is editor of the Canadian Journal of Archaeology, and co-editor of the Research Handbooks in Archaeology series (World Archaeology Congress).Nicholas is also an adjunct faculty member at Flinders University in South Australia.

Nicholas' publications on intellectual property issues in archaeology include: "'Copyrighting the Past?' Emerging Intellectual Property Rights Issues in Archaeology" (2004, Current Anthropology ) and "Intellectual Property Rights and Indigenous Cultural Heritage in Archaeology", in Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights (2004, AltaMira Press)-both co-authored with Kelly Bannister. He is also the co-editor of At a Crossroads: Archaeologists and First Peoples in Canada (1997, SFU Press, Burnaby ).

Julie Hollowell

Julie Hollowell (Ph.D. Indiana University 2004) is a cultural anthropologist who came though Indiana University's innovative Archaeology and Social Context Program with a background in archaeology and ethnography in the Bering Strait region of Alaska. She is a Killam Fellow with the Department of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia and Research Associate with Indiana University's Center for Archaeology in the Public Interest.

Julie co-edited Ethical Issues in Archaeology (with L.J. Zimmerman and K.D. Vitelli) and currently serves as series co-editor (with George Nicholas) of the World Archaeological Congress Research Handbooks in Archaeology (Left Coast Press). Her research interests focus on ethics issues in archaeology (she is an appointed member of the Society for American Archaeology's Committee on Ethics); subsistence digging and the antiquities market; the multiplicity of claims on the material and intellectual past; and the repatriation of knowledge, materials, and research directives to source communities. Julie, in collaboration with George Nicholas and Kelly Bannister, has developed an international research initiative on Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage and guest curator for an exhibition of ancient ivories from the Bering Strait being organized by Princeton University Art Museum. Her current research on intellectual property case studies in archaeology is funded by the Wenner-Gren and Izaac Walton Killam Foundations.