Maori intellectual property rights and the formation of ethnic boundaries
Number of pages
SourceInternational Journal of Cultural Property, 16, 3, (2009), pp. 341-355
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ RSCR CAOS
International Journal of Cultural Property
SubjectAnthropology and Development Studies
This article questions and contextualizes the emergence of a discourse of intellectual property rights in Māori society. It is argued that Māori claims regarding intellectual property function primarily to demarcate ethnic boundaries between Māori and non-Māori. Māori consider the reinforcement of ethnic boundaries necessary since they experience their society and distinctive way of life as endangered both by the foreign consumption or misappropriation of aspects of their authentic cultural forms and by the intrusion of foreign cultural elements. Following Simon Harrison (1999) it is argued that the first threat is often represented as an undesired form of cultural appropriation, piracy or theft, while the second threat is viewed as a form of cultural pollution. This argument is elaborated with a case-study of each so-called danger, namely a claim regarding native flora and fauna submitted to the Waitangi Tribunal, which is considered as an example of resistance against cultural appropriation, and the increasing hostility of Māori to foreign interest and research in Māori culture and society, which is analysed as an example of opposition to putative pollution.
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- Faculty of Social Sciences 
- Open Access publications 
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