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Coleman, Elizabeth Burns, Rosemary J. Coombe, Fiona MacArailt. A Broken Record: Subjecting ‘Music’ to Cultural Rights
2012, In The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation, edited by James O. Young and Conrad G. Brunk: Blackwell Publishing.
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Summary: This article presents multiple arguments for the “repatriation” of indigenous music, and the assertion of indigenous cultural rights, while troubling the imposition of legalistic frameworks of Western intellectual property. It situates the harms of appropriation in the perpetuation of unjust systems and misrepresentation, and demonstrates how careful attention to specific cultural practices can play an essential role in sorting out sometimes overly abstract debates about repatriation and appropriation.

Comment: This is a long and difficult text, but it does an excellent job of marrying careful attention to cases with philosophical context and reflection. It is a good choice for more advanced classes, particularly ones that might be focusing on music.

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Coleman, Elizabeth Burns, , . Cultural Property and Collective Identity
2006, In Returning (to) Communities: Theory, Culture and Political Practice of the Communal, edited by Stefan Herbrechter and Michael Higgins: Brill.
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Summary: This short paper examines the relationship between cultural property and collective identity through a close analysis of a paper by Richard Handler that questions such a relationship. In particular, Handler raises a version of common worries about the lack of cultural group continuity over time: because cultures are constantly changing, this fact is thought to undermine claims about the relationship between cultural identity and cultural property, as well as subsequent repatriation requests. Coleman pushes back against this objection by questioning what kind of identity or sameness is actually required for cultural continuity over time.

Comment: Though focused on a reading that is not included in this curriculum, this text pairs well with, for instance, the Appiah, Thompson, or Young readings in this module, or any other article that raises questions about cultural continuity over time.

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Harding, Sarah, , . Justifying Repatriation of Native American Cultural Property
1997, Indiana Law Journal 72(3): 723-74.
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Summary: Harding’s article offer an in-depth look at the theoretical justification for the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990, paying special attention to the category of “cultural patrimony” under which non-funerary artworks will often fall if they are subject to NAGPRA. The paper focuses on three different approaches to justifying repatriation: in terms of compensation for historical injustices, the value of an object to a community, and challenging the very possibility of ownership of cultural patrimony. Harding ultimately favors this final approach, suggesting a stewardship model on which we all have obligations with respect to the protection of cultural property.

Comment: This is a long law review article, and so is best for more advanced classes. It is a useful text for instructors who are interested in exploring cultural property issues in a legal but philosophically informed context. One can also assign only certain sections focusing on particular issues. For a shorter article that also promotes a stewardship model, the Warren paper is a good substitute, though not likewise embedded in the legal issues (and written before the passage of NAGPRA).

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Warren, Karen J., , . A Philosophical Perspective on the Ethics and Resolution of Cultural Property Issues
1989, In The Ethics of Collecting Cultural Property, edited by Phyllis Mauch Messenger. USA: University of New Mexico Press.
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Summary: Warren’s chapter offers a careful and systematic look at arguments concerning what she calls “the 3 R’s”: restitution (or repatriation) of cultural property, restrictions on cultural imports and exports, and the rights (to ownership, access, etc.) over cultural property. She ultimately argues that this framework should be overturned in favor of an approach to cultural property disputes that is modeled on conflict resolution. This approach deprioritizes traditional talk of property and ownership in favor of a focus on preservation.

Comment: Due to its clear and organized approach, this article is an excellent teaching resource, and a good choice in particular if you plan to do a single reading on repatriation issues. While it often focuses more on summary than developing the many argumentative approaches mentioned, it offers a helpful backbone for further discussion.

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