Aboriginal History, Volume 38, 2014
Treasured Possessions: Indigenous Interventions into Cultural and Intellectual Property by Haidy Geismar, 313 pp, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2013, ISBN 9780822354277 (pbk), $49.99.
Treasured Possessions is a multi-disciplinary work located at the conjunction of ethnography, legal anthropology, cultural studies and museum studies. It compares the approaches of ni-Vanuatu and Māori to cultural and intellectual property rights in both national and international contexts, with particular attention to the differences between Vanuatu as a former colony with an indigenous majority and Aotearoa New Zealand as a settler nation where Māori are a minority. Geismar draws on her experience in both countries as an anthropologist and working with museums to negotiate complex relationships of indigenous and non-indigenous people to objects held in museum collections. The work is both theoretical and descriptive, exploring particular indigenous claims and interventions in respect of cultural and intellectual property. It includes references to efforts of Indigenous Australians (as well as North American native peoples) to negotiate similar issues in both national and international contexts. Haidy Geismar is Lecturer in Digital Anthropology and Material Culture at University College London, and Associate Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at New York University.