Whose Property? Whose Heritage? Traditional Knowledge, Community Rights and State Interests

Whose Property? Whose Heritage? Traditional Knowledge, Community Rights and State Interests

This stream focusses on the movement to create intellectual property (IP) rights in traditional knowledge and cultural expressions in a growing number of African states. Recent legislation in South Africa, Kenya and Zambia has granted communities new IP rights over traditional knowledge and cultural heritage, setting up systems of licensing and benefit sharing. This is having been influenced by intergovernmental processes at the World Intellectual Property Organization and UNSECO, and under the Convention on Biological Diversity in which many African states have played an active part. It resonates with the demands of activist movements for indigenous rights, pursued in national politics, and through regional and international human rights mechanisms. Experience elsewhere (e.g. South East Asia) suggests that it will be difficult to reconcile the interests of diverse community members and leaders, and of communities and national states. Tensions between control and commercialization, authenticity and innovation are possible. More profoundly the new legislation is premised on certain assumptions regarding the nature of ‘community’ and of the ‘knowledge’ and ‘culture’ which it is holds.

We invite participants from across the disciplines able to bring critical perspectives and contextual insights to bear on this emerging legal and regulatory complex.

Organisers: Harriet Deacon (harriet@conjunction.me.uk) and John Harrington (HarringtonJ3@cardiff.ac.uk)