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Afro-Cuban Folkloric Dance in the Age of Intellectual Property

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 June 2018

Carolyn Renée Pautz*
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, United States; Email:


This article analyzes drafts put forth by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to examine the gaps that are created when institutions attempt to assign authorship of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions to individuals and communities and how these gaps impact the use of folkloric dance in cultural institutions. The analysis produced via anthropological mappings of policy is underpinned with an examination of terminologies that circulate between fields of discourse, spiraling their way into public policies concerning marginalized peoples’ rights, economies of art, and intellectual property. This is followed by ethnographic accounts of Afro-Cuban folkloric dance classes, for it is in the dancing bodies that gaps between policies of authorship and the reality of unstable streams of transmission and reception materialize. By reproducing and circulating these unstable streams, combined with various legal doctrines put forth by WIPO, cultural institutions appropriate Afro-Cuban folkloric dance to commodify individuals and communities.

Copyright © International Cultural Property Society 2018 

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