Performance and vitality: circulation and the value of culture

James Leach (CNRS)
Alexander King (Franklin & Marshall College)
Alexander King
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Short abstract:

This panel will explore and exemplify the descriptive language available to anthropologists and others to describe the simultaneous creation of multiple types of value in the creation and circulation of cultural expressions.

Long abstract:

Intellectual and Cultural Property laws clearly recognise traditional and contemporary cultural expression as creating value, yet all too often the registers of value in these regimes obscure the diverse and complex values people themselves recognise. Propertization has the effect of transforming socially created values for participants, and audiences, into (economically based) value contained by objects which can be simply attributed to a creator, or owner, as if this were the extent of people's interest in them. As such, their circulation is facilitated, but under specific conditions, thereby creating different kinds of social relation from that of their original context (which may in turn be appropriative). We invite contributions which explore the language available for expressing and affirming diverse kinds of value. We look to contribute to developing more nuanced descriptions of people's attachments to, and ownership of, cultural expressions. We invite paper proposals on all aspects of cultural expression and performance. As an example we mention one such form, without intending to limit contributions to that focus. Dances are often at the centre of the commodification of tradition for tourist consumption, or for appropriation by a state that wants to parade a harmonious pluralism of traditional cultures. The contemporary valuation of dances and dancing thus presents an opportunity to examine transformation, ownership and appropriation of cultural expressions. While acknowledging the value form of property, we seek to expand the possible register of value to include the constitution of persons and social roles, to cosmological action, and to cultural vitality itself.

Accepted Papers: