The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here
Adinkra and Kente Cloth and Intellectual Property in Ghana
Publication Year: 2011
In The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here, Boatema Boateng focuses on the appropriation and protection of adinkra and kente cloth in order to examine the broader implications of the use of intellectual property law to preserve folklore and other traditional forms of knowledge. Boateng investigates the compatibility of indigenous practices of authorship and ownership with those established under intellectual property law, considering the ways in which both are responses to the changing social and historical conditions of decolonization and globalization. Comparing textiles to the more secure copyright protection that Ghanaian musicians enjoy under Ghanaian copyright law, she demonstrates that different forms of social, cultural, and legal capital are treated differently under intellectual property law.
Boateng then moves beyond Africa, expanding her analysis to the influence of cultural nationalism among the diaspora, particularly in the United States, on the appropriation of Ghanaian and other African cultures for global markets. Boateng’s rich ethnography brings to the surface difficult challenges to the international regulation of both contemporary and traditional concepts of intellectual property, and questions whether it can even be done.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Publication of this book was made possible, in part, with a grant from the An earlier version of the Introduction was published as “Square Pegs in Round Holes? CulturalProduction, Intellectual Property Frameworks, and Discourses of Power,” in CODE: Collabora-tive Ownership and the Digital Economy, ed. Rishab Ayer Ghosh (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press,2005); copyright 2005 by MIT Press. An earlier version of chapter 2 was published as “Walking...
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INTRODUCTION: Indexes of Culture and Power
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Adinkra and Kente fabrics are made by ethnic groups in Ghana, and until 1996, I saw them as expressions of cultural identity and kente, in particular, as a highly desirable—and elusive—status symbol. Like many Ghanaians, I valued adinkra cloth not only for its association with mourning but also as the source of a pool of symbolic designs ...
1. The Tongue Does Not Rot: Authorship, Ancestors, and Cloth
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KOFI, AN ADINKRA MAKER, raised the subject of property rights incultural production before I could even explain my mission in wanting totalk to him. Several researchers had come to the community asking himand others about their craft, he declared angrily. He and his fellow cloth pro-ducers had shared their knowledge but had gained nothing from it. Clearly,...
2. The Women Don’t Know Anything!: Gender, Cloth Production, and Appropriation
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...search goals to Kofi. After the initial hostile reaction that I described inchapter 1, he agreed to record his life history and help me contact otheradinkra producers. I told him that I would also like to talk to women in thecommunity. His re sponse was, “The women don’t know anything! I’ll tellyou everything.” In an interesting shift, his gatekeeping had gone from...
3. Your Face Doesn’t Go Anywhere: Cultural Production and Legal Subjectivity
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AKUA AFRIYIE was one of the first respondents I encountered, and whenasked about copyright, her response established a theme that was to recurwith a number of others. She said, “Isn’t it what MUSIGA does?” (MUSIGAis the Musicians Union of Ghana). Next was Manu, an adinkra maker, whoexpressed doubts about the possibility of protecting his community’s designs...
4. We Run a Single Country: The Politics of Appropriation
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Agbozume, a center of Ewe kente or adanudo, where he learned to weave.When he moved to the national capital, Accra, and realized that Asantekente was more popular than the Ewe version, he found a group of Asanteweavers who readily taught him how to weave Asante kente.1 This intereth-nic sharing belies the rivalry between the Ewe and Asante people of Ghana,...
5. This Work Cannot Be Rushed: Global Flows, Global Regulation
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...to produce handwoven kente in the quantities needed to supply global I remember once, Mandela, they say he went to America and he wore kente,he wore a kente jumper and wore it there. So when he got there the Ameri-cans were so happy and wanted some. A certain Ghanaian came and placedan order in Ghana. He waited for a large quantity to be made. This work, too,...
CONCLUSION: Why Should the Copyright Thing Work Here?
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Ghana’s use of intellectual property law to protect elements of local cultural production, like adinkra and kente designs, is not simply an interesting case study of an attempt to fit non-Western cultural forms into Western legal regimes. More importantly, it has to do with the place of nations like Ghana in the current global order ...
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I am grateful, first, to the cloth producers who shared their life historieswith me and to all the other artists, activists, scholars, policy advisers, andgovernment officials who granted me the interviews that made this bookpossible. I thank Mrs. Sabina Ofori-Boateng for facilitating my research.The University of California, San Diego gave me a Faculty Career Devel-...
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...3. Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti; Mould-Iddrisu, “Protection of Folklore in4. Personal Narratives Group, Interpreting Women’s Lives; Reinharz, Feminist Meth-ods in Social Research (see, especially, chapter 7, “Feminist Oral History”).7. The term ethnicity denotes several different kinds of identification that may bebased on language, race, or, in the case of immigrant communities, national origin....
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Adomako Ampofo, Akosua. “‘My Cocoa Is between My Legs’: Sex as Work amongGhanaian Women.” In Women’s Labor in the Global Economy, edited by SharonHarley, 182–205. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2007.Agbenaza, Edith Happy. “The Ewe ‘Adanudo’ (A Piece of Creative Cloth WovenLocally by Ewes).” Unpublished B.A. thesis, University of Science and Technology,...
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Boatema Boateng is associate professor of communication at the ...
Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: First Peoples: New Directions Indigenous