The dilemma of replication
(P08)
Location G
Date and Time 11th December, 2008 at 13:30

Convenor

Melissa Demian (Australian National University) melissa.demian@anu.edu.au
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Short Abstract

Drawing on the linguistic concept of 'entextualization', this panel explores the moral assessment of replication and adaptation. How do objects of knowledge become bounded in anticipation of their replication, and how are they then evaluated as an consequence of this initial anticipatory move?

Long Abstract

This panel asks: when do replication, repetition, reiteration and adaptation become an issue of moral evaluation? We ask how various objects travel, be they utterances, artefacts, a sequence of actions, or some other form of embodied knowledge. The panel draws its inspiration from the linguistic concept of entextualization, in which people produce bounded interactions that are potentially separable from their social and cultural contexts of production. In this panel we will investigate how one creates these objects, texts or bodies of knowledge with an intention to circulate, that is, how they become bounded in a way that anticipates appropriation and adaptation. What moral assumptions are presupposed or entailed when one structures things, texts or knowledge for the purpose of travel between contexts? The aim here is to ask how replication and adaptation are morally evaluated, depending upon how the recontextualization of the entextualized form was anticipated. Subjects in which this issue appears may range from plagiarism in academia, to sampling in music, to forms of evidence in legal and scientific arguments, to concerns about how relationships are mediated through digital technologies, to gossip and rumour. Why is replication evaluated as a form of creativity in some instances, a form of theft in others, and sometimes both at once?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Disowning Cultures, Disentangling Natures

Author: Michael Goldsmith (University of Waikato) mikegold@waikato.ac.nz

Short Abstract

This paper will analyse the issue of replication by examining 'disownership claims'. These include refusals to replicate, proposals to disentangle replication, regrets over previous replication, and suggestions to antagonists that they go replicate themselves.

Abstract

This paper will analyse the issue of replication by examining 'disownership claims'. These include refusals to replicate, proposals to disentangle replication, regrets over previous replication, and suggestions to antagonists that they go replicate themselves.

In New Zealand (and probably also in other post-colonial settler societies), the sorts of texts in question achieve particular salience at moments of heightened tension when indigenous and settler claims to citizenship and property are contested more virulently than usual. In 2004, for example, in the aftermath of Brash's Orewa speech and at the height of the foreshore and seabed controversy, New Zealanders on opposing sides of the political debates engaged in wrangling over who had benefited from European 'civilisation' and by how much. On one view, some non-Maori asserted that if Maori wanted to claim the foreshore and seabed (the patrimony of 'all New Zealanders') then they should 'return' various items of cultural and technological progress that accompanied colonialism. Conversely, some Maori and their supporters asserted that if Pakeha insisted on reclaiming the goods that they had brought, then they should take back the associated ills of civilisation as well. When the list of cultural exchanges and replications runs out, it is readily supplemented by examples drawn from the natural environment. The locally situated occurrence of such arguments should not be allowed to disguise the fact they have specific antecedents in the genealogy of colonial and counter-colonial discourse (especially, no doubt, at moments of decolonisation).

Lost somewhere between Sweden and the UK

Author: Jennifer Speirs (University of Edinburgh) J.M.Speirs@ed.ac.uk

Short Abstract

Arguments in support of continued semen donor anonymity in the UK have involved the appropriation of evidence through the partial replication, decontextualisation and alteration of facts. My paper analyses this as a moral strategy deriving from beliefs about what it should mean to be a father.

Abstract

Opinion in the UK has been divided over whether people conceived with donated gametes should be able to access identifying information about their genetic (donor) parent(s). In the debates prior to the passing of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, the medical profession lobbied for permanent anonymity for donors. It was argued that the number of semen donors in Sweden had decreased following legislative change there in 1985 which permitted identifying information about donors to be made available to donor offspring, when they reached maturity. This argument was based on a misquotation of a report by a visiting UK social worker about the effects of the legislation on donor numbers. Although there was a temporary decrease in donors which was partly provoked by some clinicians in Sweden being unprepared to work under the new law, the 'fact' that there has been a permanent decrease in numbers has continued to be repeated in the UK by clinicians and politicians opposed to the introduction of regulations in the UK in 2005 which removed previous provisions for donating anonymously. Policies supporting donor identification which allegedly reduce treatment options for people with fertility problems due to donor shortage, are considered unethical, whereas donor anonymity is not.

My paper explores how cultural values, in this case about how forms of relatedness should be constituted and what it means to be a father, are revealed through the appropriation and repetition of a fact which, decontextualised, turns out not to be a replica of the original.

Making custom and discovering law in Papua New Guinea high courts

Author: Melissa Demian (Australian National University) melissa.demian@anu.edu.au

Short Abstract

This paper examines how custom is simultaneously discovered and invented in the course of high court cases in Papua New Guinea.

Abstract

The title of this paper is an inversion of the formula once uttered by a Papua New Guinean judge, that 'While law is made, custom is discovered.' Although it is enshrined in the Constitution as part of Papua New Guinea's 'underlying law', custom must be pleaded as evidence to be admissible in court. To do so successfully, those offering customary evidence must make the custom of their ethnic or linguistic group appear far more stable and consensual - and indeed more spoken-about - than it ever is in actuality. So the process of turning custom into evidence is premised on the illusion that custom ever existed in a form that could be imported into a legal context. I aim for a critique of the notion that custom can be entextualised, as a means of reframing traditional debates in the study of legal pluralism to do with how law encompasses custom, particularly in postcolonial settings. Certainly this model has been written into the Papua New Guinea Constitution. But asking how custom becomes an argument allows for an escape from the cliché of encompassment, which is not, I argue, the process at stake in Papua New Guinea case law. Using entextualisation rather than encompassment enables a different set of questions about how custom is simultaneously invented and translated, and how these moments of invention and translation can be observed.

Replication and transformation in a sung narrative genre of Highland Papua New Guinea

Author: Alan Rumsey (Australian National University) alan.rumsey@anu.edu.au

Short Abstract

Across a large area of Highland PNG, there are traditions of ballad-like sung narratives. I focus on one of them, describing a case in which a certain renowned performer had modeled his style on that of another, while transforming the plots of his tales. I consider whether or not this was regarded as ‘appropriation’ and why.

Abstract

Across a large area of Highland PNG, there are traditions of ballad-like sung narratives. Composed and performed by specialist bards, these are a highly valued cultural resource. From a comparative viewpoint they are remarkable both for their scale and complexity and for the range of variation that is found among regional genres and individual styles. I will focus on one such genre, tom yaya kange, as performed in the Ku Waru region of the Western Highlands, and in particular on the work of one bard, Paulus Konts. Widely regarded as the most skillful tom yaya practitioner in the region, Konts presents an interesting case of 'replication', as his compositional techniques and performance style are closely modeled on those of another bard, Paul Pepa, from whom Konts learned his craft via radio transmissions of Pepa's performances that he heard in the early 1980s through a local government broadcasting service. But Konts transformed the genre by relocating the plots of Pepa's traditional tales into the contemporary world of Highland PNG, with himself as their half-comical hero. At a workshop on chanted tales that I convened in Goroka 2004, Pepa and Konts met each other for the first time. Drawing on what I learned from the conversation between them and among other bards on that occasion, I will attempt to convey a sense of how they viewed the relationship between Pepa's work and Konts's, and assess whether and to what extent they saw it as a case of 'appropriation' and why.