Intellectual Property issues in Cultural Heritage Mgt



26th April was World Intellectual Property Day ( This day reflects on the use of various forms of creative media as well as on how those uses are monitored for the benefit of those that create them.



In cultural heritage resources use, the issue of intellectual property is largely biased towards creative arts. But what about intellectual property rights in other cultural categories such as landscapes, sites, monuments, communities, ethnic settlements, amongst others? Without neglecting individual creative intellectual property, it is about time that  all areas of cultural heritage are considered and addressed so as to allow for a broader coverage of ‘properties’ emerging in the process of conserving and managing cultural heritage resources in their entirety.

This is even more relevant for Africa. WHY?  Chapter 2 of the book on African cultural heritage conservation and management discusses this need. The book has chapters and sections that discuss issues relating to intellectual property in vultural spheres. The following are some of the key areas that practitioners and scholars should engage in to build interest in this topic:

  • The need to collate knowledge-based conventions vs resources-based conventions. Most of the conventions associated with cultural heritage management are those of UNESCO that do not specifically concern themselves with the management of intellectual property relating to all forms of cultural heritage resources.
  • communal knowledge session vs individual creative knowledge patenting and copyrighting? To avoid monopoly of intellectual property by the knowing few, communal intellectual property trademarks and copyrights along the models of Community-Based Cultural Heritage resources Management (COBACHREM) need to be considered. This is outlined in the book’s chapter 4. The evolution towards collective community should be applied across board to address issues of intellectual proerty in cultural heritage management.


GLOBAL CASE STUDIES RELATED TO THE TOPIC: – Brand Maasai: Why nomads might trademark their name



Dr Susan O. Keitumetse competed for and won two separate Commonwealth scholarships both to University of Cambridge, UK , where she pursued MPhil (Archaeological Heritage Management and Museums) and later on PhD (African cultural heritage and Sustainable Development). Before she had obtained a BA degree (Archaeology and Environmental Sciences) and Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Geography and History) from the University of Botswana. During her post-graduate studies, she combined both environmental science and archaeology disciplines to venture into the broader cultural and heritage management studies with a particular focus on sustainable development and cultural heritage management at the department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge. With a view to catalyze a linkage between environment and cultural heritage in Africa, Dr Keitumetse conducted various researches and published works that illustrate the relevance of cultural and heritage resources for the broader environmental conservation. She works at the University of Botswana’s Okavango Research Institute as a researcher in cultural heritage and tourism where she undertakes applied research in areas such as the Okavango inland Delta World Heritage Site and Kalahari areas. Of particular note is her developing conservation model of Community-Based Cultural Heritage Resources Management (COBACHREM) to guide local communities and practitioners’ initiatives towards sustainable use of cultural heritage resources for social development. Dr Keitumetse is an associate editor of the journal Environment, Development, and Sustainability published by Springer. She also sits in the editorial board of the international journal of community archaeology and heritage, published by Taylor and Francis, as well as the International Journal of Heritage and Sustainable Development published by Green Lines Institute, Portugal. Dr Keitumetse has both national and international experience from across the world. She has won academic grants for research fellowships in international institutions that include; the Rockefeller Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, USA; the Watson Scholar Fellowship at Brown University in Rhode Island, USA and the Wenner-Gren Foundation research grant for research on ‘historical archaeology of marginal landscapes of eastern Botswana’. Outside academia and in international development Dr Keitumetse has worked and continues to work with institutions such as UNESCO as an expert advisor, examiner, facilitator, and consultant within the intangible cultural heritage section. She has corporate governance experience from African government parastatal institution dealing with environment, heritage, tourism and land use planning. These are derived from her tenure as a board director of Botswana Tourism Organisation for six years, where she also chaired a quality assurance committee of the board dealing with grading and certifying tourism accommodation. Her overall research interests are in the areas of sustainable development and cultural heritage conservation; historical archaeology; community heritage management; communal cultural identities; heritage tourism; heritage and protected areas; international management of cultural heritage; amongst others. Dr Susan Keitumetse has published extensively in the field of cultural heritage conservation and management in Africa, Her works comprise of peer-reviewed articles in international journals; peer-reviewed book chapters; refereed conference proceedings; and technical reports in international periodicals, magazines and newspapers. These can be accessed through search engines such as Google Scholar and LinkedIn. *********************************************************************************************
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