Heritage vs. property

Contrasting regimes and rationalities in the patrimonial field

Authored by: Valdimar Tr. Hafstein , Martin Skrydstrup

The Routledge Companion to Cultural Property

Print publication date:  July  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138812642
eBook ISBN: 9781315641034
Adobe ISBN:


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A persisting problem for the critical study of cultural property is how to conceptualize differences in the ways in which national and indigenous claims are shaped and legitimated. The coupling of identity and indigeneity with ownership and rights mobilized in claims have been read analytically as identity politics (Handler 1988), nation building (Li 2001), resistance (Miller 1995), postcolonial mimesis (Bhabha 1994), alternative modernities (Coombe 2003), forms of ethno-commodification (Comaroff and Comaroff 2009), and as a “provincializing move that destabilizes our certainty about what is local and what is global” (Geismar 2013). It seems to us that such readings hinge on how we analytically configure “case studies” vis-à-vis larger processes of state formation; that is, how we relate biographies of contested artifacts and the lives of intellectual properties to the distinct regimes of governmentality, which perform the work of (non-)recognition of such claims.

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