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The AALL Spectrum® blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.

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7/22/2013 1:41:49 PM

International Trade in Indigenous Cultural Heritage: Legal and Policy Issues

International Trade in Indigenous Cultural Heritage: Legal and Policy Issues

Edited by Christoph B. Graber, Karolina Kuprecht, and Jessica C. Lai

ISBN-13:  978 0 85793 830 5


Edward Elgar Publishing Limited

509 pages


Amazon list price $199.50 (U.S. dollars)


This title continues the work begun at a conference of the same name in 2011 hosted by the i-call Research Centre for International Communications and Art Law at the University of Lucerne in Switzerland. This would be an excellent purchase for libraries (and others) with an interest in indigenous cultures, cultural heritage, art, artistic expression, genetic information, traditional knowledge, and how all of those concepts interact with or intercept the law (domestic and international). Libraries that would particularly benefit would be academic law libraries with a specific art and/or international law collection or those specializing in the rights of indigenous peoples.

The book is divided into four parts:

  1. Methodology and Social Context
  2. International Law Perspectives
  3. Country Reports (United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand)
  4. Conclusions

There are more than 20 contributing authors from all of the countries mentioned in the country reports and more. They have backgrounds in subjects as varied as law, sociology, culture, communication, intellectual property, sustainable development, education, social policy, traditional knowledge, chemistry, and bioethics.

The very distinction between indigenous people and peoples is one of the many complex subjects to be considered. There is an in-depth discussion of who can legitimately exert control over cultural heritage. Another issue examined is not only who are the stakeholders, but how best to encourage participation of those stakeholders, particularly when the domestic legal system by which they are surrounded may not recognize their rights.

Many international institutions have a peripheral patchwork of documents and projects that skirt the issues of the international trade of indigenous cultural heritage. Among the institutions and programs or documents referred to in the book are: the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Many unique distinctions are illuminated such as the notions of individual rights and collective rights, particularly as they pertain to property. The concept of self-determination is also recognized as a fundamental right of all peoples and informs the discussion of trade in cultural heritage.

By way of conclusion there is a discussion of where the issues stand now. It is generally agreed among the authors that trade in cultural heritage can benefit indigenous peoples if they have the choice when and whether to engage in that trade. There is also a feeling that national, rather than international, law and policy making solutions to these issues are the most promising.


Wanita Scroggs, JD, MLIS

International Law Librarian

Stetson University College of Law

Posted By Wanita Scroggs at 7/22/2013 1:41:49 PM  0 Comments