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Accepted Paper:

How intellectual property law transforms immaterial cultural goods  
Ute Röschenthaler (JGU Mainz)

Paper short abstract:

Immaterial cultural goods are an important resource with which people in Africa position themselves in the global world. When subjected to copyright law, media formats, or commercial events, they undergo substantial transformations, as will be illustrated by examples from Cameroon.

Paper long abstract:

Immaterial cultural goods and practices such as performances, dances, songs, music, praise poetry, oral history, knowledge, local sports or beauty ideals undergo substantial transformations when they face global networks and practices. They become subject to materialization, copyright law, various media formats, commoditization or commercial events. This process of subjecting them to such international formats has an influence on the perception of the different immaterial cultural goods. They are also confronted with the norms that regulate what locally can and cannot be done with such goods. Based on extensive field research in Cameroon, this paper explores with a diachronic approach and from the perspective of the local actors the role of the norms that regulate immaterial goods, how these norms are challenged by international regulations and who is interested in maintaining the old norms, in adopting the new regulations, or in participating in different activities and practices of identity construction that have been observed as a repercussion of the international norms. It also compares these findings with similar cases from other African countries. It demonstrates how immaterial cultural goods have become an important resource with which local people in Africa position themselves in the global world

Panel P055
Impact and localization of international knowledge regimes
  Session 1