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Parodies of Ownership

Hip-Hop Aesthetics and Intellectual Property Law

Richard L. Schur

Publication Year: 2009

Richard Schur offers a provocative view of contemporary African American cultural politics and the relationship between African American cultural production and intellectual property law. ---Mark Anthony Neal, Duke University "Whites used to own blacks. Now, they accomplish much the same thing by insisting that they 'own' ownership. Blacks shouldn't let them. A culture that makes all artists play by its rules will end up controlling new ideas and stifling change. Richard Schur's fine book explains why." ---Richard Delgado, Seattle University What is the relationship between hip-hop and African American culture in the post--Civil Rights era? Does hip-hop share a criticism of American culture or stand as an isolated and unique phenomenon? How have African American texts responded to the increasing role intellectual property law plays in regulating images, sounds, words, and logos? Parodies of Ownership examines how contemporary African American writers, artists, and musicians have developed an artistic form that Schur terms "hip-hop aesthetics." This book offers an in-depth examination of a wide range of contemporary African American painters and writers, including Anna Deavere Smith, Toni Morrison, Adrian Piper, Colson Whitehead, Michael Ray Charles, Alice Randall, and Fred Wilson. Their absence from conversations about African American culture has caused a misunderstanding about the nature of contemporary cultural issues and resulted in neglect of their innovative responses to the post--Civil Rights era. By considering their work as a cross-disciplinary and specifically African American cultural movement, Schur shows how a new paradigm for artistic creation has developed. Parodies of Ownership offers a broad analysis of post--Civil Rights era culture and provides the necessary context for understanding contemporary debates within American studies, African American studies, intellectual property law, African American literature, art history, and hip-hop studies. Weaving together law, literature, art, and music, Schur deftly clarifies the conceptual issues that unify contemporary African American culture, empowering this generation of artists, writers, and musicians to criticize how racism continues to affect our country. Richard L. Schur is Director, Interdisciplinary Studies Center, and Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Drury University. Visit the author's website: http://www2.drury.edu/rschur/index.htm. Cover illustration: Atlas, by Fred Wilson. © Fred Wilson, courtesy Pace Wildenstein, New York.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

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1. From Chattel to Intellectual Property: Legal Foundations of African American Cultural Critique

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pp. 1-23

The U.S. Postal Service has issued over 150 stamps of African Americans.From Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman to Malcolm X and Charlie Parker, the images of African American leaders, musicians, athletes, scientists, and business leaders have been captured on stamps of all sizes and denominations. The watershed year for this representational emphasis is...

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2. Critical Race Theory, Signifyin’, and Cultural Ownership

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pp. 24-41

By the 1980s, Civil Rights–era strategies and reasoning no longer could respond effectively to evolving forms of racism. The impediments to equal-ity and freedom had been altered from the physical violence of Bull Con-nor to the representational violence of the Reagan era. The post–Civil Rights era transformed the grammar and syntax of racism, racialization,...

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3. Defining Hip-Hop Aesthetics

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pp. 42-67

Scholars have long relied on musical styles to describe, de‹ne, and sym-bolize African American cultural production. Gospel, blues, jazz, soul, andnow hip-hop have come to represent how both dominant culture and aca-demics view and analyze African American life. The primacy of musicwithin African American cultural criticism can be traced back at least to...

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4. Claiming Ownership in the Post–Civil Rights Era

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pp. 68-98

The origins of hip-hop can be traced to the late 1960s in Jamaica, but the music began capturing national attention during the 1980s.1 During hip-hop’s early years, Ronald Reagan’s election deepened existing cultural divides and furthered the “culture wars” that dominated the attention of African American activists, intellectuals, writers, musicians, artists, and politicians....

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5. “Fair Use” and the Circulation of Racialized Texts

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pp. 99-138

In his groundbreaking Harvard Law Review article examining post–Civil Rights era Supreme Court decisions, Derrick Bell challenges the normative assumptions of legal discourse.1 Anticipating concerns articulated by participants from the first CRT workshop, Bell predicts that CLS’s deconstruction of rights discourse will prove insuficient to challenge the racism...

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6. “Transformative Uses”: Parody and Memory

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pp. 139-165

Many scholars and activists have concluded that Civil Rights era reforms only affected a partial transformation of the American political, economical, and social structure. Recent multiculturalist and CRT activism seeks to emphasize culture as a key component in the continued fight for social justice...

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7. From Invisibility to Erasure? The Consequences of Hip-Hop Aesthetics

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pp. 166-187

In Invisible Man (1952), Ralph Ellison depicted the existential angst of his nameless protagonist who slowly comes to realize that he is invisible to whites. Through this novel, Ellison criticized existing social, cultural, political, legal, and economic discourses for failing to recognize African American subjectivity. In the novel’s conclusion, the hero contemplates the...


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pp. 189-208


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pp. 209-226


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pp. 227-236

E-ISBN-13: 9780472024490
E-ISBN-10: 0472024493
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472050604
Print-ISBN-10: 0472050605

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2009