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    Development and the protection of cultural heritage: common heritage of humankind or national cultural patrimony

    Macmillan, Fiona (2011) Development and the protection of cultural heritage: common heritage of humankind or national cultural patrimony. In: Legal Appropriation: Taking Of and By the Law, November 2011, SOAS School of Law and London International Development Centre. (Unpublished)

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    Event Synopsis: The role of law as a means, end, obstacle or irrelevance to development has been the subject of increasing debate in recent years. Academics and policy makers have tended to gravitate towards the view that law matters to development. It is both a means—a step on the ladder towards ‘comprehensive’ (economic, social, political, cultural) development; and an end--a piece of the final comprehensive development jigsaw. What most have forgotten is that law can both steal, and be stolen by, development. Law steals development when it enables individuals (foreign or local) to appropriate resources. Physical resources are appropriated when Chinese businesses buy up agricultural land in Africa, when soft drink manufacturers dominate ground water consumption in South India, and when an Olympic carpark replaces an allotment in East London. Cultural resources are appropriated when the stories and songs that a distinctive to the culture of a developing country are used in Hollywood films. Biological resources are appropriated when European companies make pharmaceutical products based on traditional Indian remedies. Labour is appropriated when undocumented migrant workers are criminalised and subject to working conditions and poverty wages amounting to coerced or bonded labour. These potentially innocent acts become appropriations when they are done without the informed consent of those present and future generations in whom the resources rightly vest. Law—of copyright, planning, environment, investment, land, labour—is the key technology of appropriation. Law is itself stolen when it is reformed to support the interests and values of individuals (foreign or local) at the expense of the interests and values of those present and future generations whose welfare law ought also to serve. Law is stolen when environmental impact assessments are deregulated out of the pathway of investors in India; when the laws of Afghanistan and Iraq are rewritten by their conquerors; when copyright law permits an American film corporation to assert proprietary rights over a depiction of a traditional Balinese dance. The question of how law ‘matters’ to development is no longer reserved for ethereal academic debate. Its mattering has been decided by multilateral development agencies, corporations and defense departments alike, and the notion of the ‘rule of law’ is now ingrained in the public consciousness. This workshop represents an important and timely opportunity to unsettle the status quo.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Law School
    Research Centres and Institutes: Innovation Management Research, Birkbeck Centre for
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2016 13:45
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:23


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