Apr 1: IP/Gender: Gender and Traditional Cultural Expressions

IP/Gender:  Mapping the Connections
Eighth Annual Symposium, April 1, 2011

Special Theme:  
Gender and Traditional Cultural Expressions
Sponsored by
American University Washington College of Law’s
Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property,
Women and the Law Program, and
Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law
In collaboration with
Boatema Boateng (University of California, San Diego)
Lorraine Aragon (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Proposal Deadline: February18, 2011

Interested in attending, please register at http://tinyurl.com/pijipReg.

    For the past seven years, the annual “IP/Gender:  Mapping the Connections” symposium has provided a forum to examine the gendered dimensions of intellectual property law.  Because issues of gender in intellectual property have been under-appreciated and remain under-theorized, much of this work has been exploratory, treading new ground in the fields of both feminist inquiry and intellectual property law. 

    The 8th Annual Symposium on “IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections” seeks papers on the special theme of gender and the production of traditional cultural knowledge.   Since colonial times, the specific cultural productions of discrete human communities have been systematically under-valued and relegated to the status of “naturally occurring raw materials” in legal and economic regimes.   As modern nations, “developing” countries have gained new access to international fora where issues such as intellectual property are discussed. It is arguable, however, that opportunities created by these developments have accrued more to nation states than to indigenous peoples and discrete communities in both developing and industrialized nations. WIPO’s Intergovernmental Committee has received a new mandate for 2010, including for the first time “text-based negotiations” leading to an international legal instrument to ensure the effective protection of (among other things) “traditional culture expressions” (or “TCEs” – this being the term now conventionally employed to refer to the patterns and practices associated with long-surviving visual, musical and literary arts) (http://tinyurl.com/WIPOtce). Recent years have seen numerous initiatives in the same direction at the national level – Ghanaian legislation on copyright and geographical indications, the Panamanian folklore protection statute, new initiatives to confer protection on Peruvian ceramic traditions, a drive for protection of TCEs under national law in Indonesia, and many more. All of these developments have given new prominence to the question of what useful role intellectual property may play in correcting underlying historical imbalances.   By the same token, critics of the extension of IP have raised questions about the consequences of propertizing old culture for the public domain, and about the possible distorting effects of new protection on processes of cultural production and transmission. 

    In many places, women are deemed to be the most important practitioners and custodians of certain old arts, with many cultural “traditions” being passed primarily or exclusively from one generation of women to the next.   Therefore, the consequences of introducing IP regimes in this area may have special significance for women and their communities, or may reflect underlying assumptions about gender, women’s proper role in decolonization and development, and the distributive consequences of IP regimes. This workshop seeks to examine those questions in the context of the larger discussion about propertization of traditional cultural expressions.  We welcome projects at all stages of conceptualization and development, and specifically those that draw on the insights of multiple disciplines, including cultural anthropology, gender studies, post-colonial studies, and law.   We welcome contributions that employ a range of feminist approaches and methodologies to explore intellectual property law and related legal regimes.  For example, we welcome accounts of the transmission of rights-based paradigms, critical and post-colonial feminist approaches that investigate ways in which protection of women’s status as “culture-bearers” is contested, and intersectional approaches that explore the multifaceted nature of women’s engagement with law and legal systems.  Proposals for papers or other presentations (of approximately 500 words) are invited in connection with this general topic.   These might include (but certainly are not limited to):

  1. Ethnographic accounts of gendered “traditional” cultural practices;

  2. Inquiries into market and other conditions that affect practitioners, both men and women;

  3. Analyses of how IP-based regulation of women’s activities related to old arts and cultural “traditions” connect the political economy of family and household to that of market and state;

  4. Considerations of the role (if any) that family law regimes may play in serving or constraining the interests of culture-bearers;

  5. Descriptions of particular legal regimes and their consequences;

  6. Discussions of relevant issues raised in international debates over protection of TCEs;

  7. Critical responses to proposals for the systematic documentation of the “traditional”;

  8. Examinations of the promise and pitfalls associated with introducing new “sui generis” IP regimes into this field;

  9. Reflections on the role (if any) that conventional IP regimes may play in serving or constraining the interests of culture-bearers;

  10. Reviews of circulating rhetorics in the debate over TCE protection, including “sacred” art and the “information commons”; and

  11. Exploration of rights-based discourses in international development policy, as they may relate to the debates over TCEs.  

Click Here - Call for Papers Submission Form

PDF - Call for Papers - WCL - Gender and Traditional Cultural Expression

    Proposals (of approximately 500 words) should be received by February 18, 2011 and notifications will be made by mid-January.  Limited travel assistance funds will be available for participants without institutional support. Workshop papers will be strongly considered for publication in the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law’s annual IP/Gender Volume.

 Register at, http://tinyurl.com/pijipReg