Commodifications of the Past? Working Group
The past itself (as a linear configuration of time) cannot be commodified, but representations and fragments of it are made or manufactured into commodities, consumed by some audiences, but denied to others. Nations and organizations seek to legislate this commodification, usually without considering whether it is desirable. This Working Group will explore questions relating to this, including: Is the past in fact finite and irreplaceable? Does appraising museum collections create prices that encourage legal and illicit antiquities trade? Or does placing the past in a system of value promote interest in it? Are archaeologists commodifying the past by being paid to study it? How are indigenous perspectives offended or supported by commodification? And are tangible items valued more than the non-material, such as oral histories, soundscapes, and senses of place? Rather than confront these issues, this Working Group will engage with them, avoiding the hardness of academic language by seeking good, bad, and provocative stories of commodification. To participate, we ask for a “fee” in the form of such a story. Potential research topics include the role of government and legislation; the meaning of “priceless” in museum practice; whether an antiquities trade is desirable; whether commodification can benefit disempowered communities; and the impact of treating human remains as commodities, whether in medical science or museums.
Activities and Outputs:
- Co-chair Roth has been writing an IPinCH blog, focused on students, sharing thoughts related to the WG theme stimulated by participation in workshops, colloquia, and digital art projects;
- Roth organized the “Collaboration, Communication, and Negotiation in the Age of Digital Media and Mass-Production” session for the WAC Inter-congress, June 23-24, 2011.
Bell, C. 2011. Ownership and Trade of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in Canada. International Trade in Indigenous Cultural Heritage: Legal and Policy Issues Workshop, Univ. of Lucerne, Switzerland, Jan. 17.
Coombe, R. and N. Aylwin. 2011. Bordering Diversity and Desire: Marking Place-Based Products in Commerce. Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study Fellows Symposium, Feb. 25.
Coombe, R. 2011. Bordering Diversity and Desire: Marking Place-Based Products in Commerce. Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Social Change. City University of New York Graduate Faculty, Apr. 6.
Coombe, R. 2011. Indigenous Cultural Heritage Goods at the Intersection of Cultural Heritage and International Trade. International Trade in Indigenous Cultural Heritage: Legal and Policy Issues Workshop. University of Lucerne, Switzerland, Jan. 17.
Coombe, R. 2011. Bordering Diversity and Desire: Marking Place-Based Products in Commerce. Law and the Geographical Imagination symposium. Food Studies Centre, School of Oriental and African Studies, London School of Economics, Mar 24.
Roth, S. 2011. Session organizer: Museum-Community Partnerships in the Age of Mass Reproduction, Indigenous People and Museums, World Archaeological Congress Intercongress, Indianapolis, June 23-24.
Roth, S. Beyond Collaborative Research and Exhibitions: Markets, Reproductions, and the Idea of “Collaboration.” World Archaeological Congress Intercongress, Indianapolis, June 23-24.
Roth, S. 2010. Not Just Their “Kitsch Mirror”: Museum Reproductions and the Native Northwest Coast Giftware Industry. American Anthropology Association, New Orleans, LA, Nov. 19.
Roth, S. 2010. Notes from “The Otsego Institute” – Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown (NY), May 23-27, 2010. IPinCH student blog: www.sfu.ca/ipinch/node/638 Jun. 10.
Roth, S. 2011. Marilyn Strathern – Graduate student workshop – “Can we still talk of ‘cultural property’?” – October 13, 2010. Student blog on IPinCH website. http://www.sfu.ca/ipinch/node/707. Jan. 10.