International Trade in Indigenous Cultural Heritage
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International Trade in Indigenous Cultural Heritage

Legal and Policy Issues

Edited by Christoph Beat Graber, Karolina Kuprecht and Jessica Christine Lai

The book is unique in taking a multi-faceted approach to cultural heritage, incorporating discussion on tangible and intangible, moveable and immoveable elements of indigenous peoples’ culture. From the perspectives of several international legal fields, including trade law, intellectual property, cultural property, cultural heritage law and human rights, the book explores how indigenous peoples could be empowered to participate more actively in the trade of their cultural heritage without being compelled to renounce important traditional values. The national and local legal realities in four jurisdictions (New Zealand, Australia, United States and Canada) lay the scene for a wide-ranging analysis of various possibilities and proposals on how this might be achieved.
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Chapter 9: International trade in indigenous cultural heritage: an argument for indigenous governance of cultural property

Rebecca Tsosie


This chapter examines the possibilities, advantages and limits of adjusting international trade law to protect indigenous cultural heritage, focusing on the international law dimensions of tangible forms of indigenous cultural property, as a distinctive category of cultural heritage. Specifically, I address how indigenous peoples are defined within international cultural property law and how that body of law handles questions of indigenous culture, including definitions of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. Finally, I explore how indigenous peoples are represented, procedurally or otherwise, within international organisations and institutions. The overriding issue, of course, is whether it is possible to adjust international trade law to protect indigenous cultural heritage. Specifically, what rules might promote fair trade in indigenous cultural heritage? Many scholars have written important work highlighting the unique nature of cultural expression within indigenous societies and the challenges of reconciling indigenous cultural systems with international trade law.

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