Who Owns Native Culture – The eSupplement

Continuing the digital-book theme that’s been emerging on materialworldblog:
Michael Brown’s book, Who Owns Native Culture (2003, Harvard University Press), has a supplementary electronic resource which consolidates current links to recent developments in cultural and intellectual property issues, especially those concerning indigenous peoples. It contains links to legislative documents, websites, and other publications, is well designed and easy to browse. Whilst the book does not reference much of the extensive anthropological, historical and legal literature on these issues – the web resource is really excellent, supplementing many of the case-studies with literature and links. Its an exemplar of how the web can enhance a paper publication and keep it up to date, and should be a go-to place for those interested in tracking property issues in comparative cultural context.

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3 Responses to Who Owns Native Culture – The eSupplement

  1. Michael Brown, Williams College April 27, 2007 at 4:35 pm #

    Although I’m grateful for the kind words about the “Who Owns Native Culture?” website, I confess that I’m baffled by the claim that the book “does not reference much of the extensive anthropological, historical and legal literature” on issues of indigenous IPR. The 11-page single-spaced biblio is available for inspection at www.williams.edu/go/native/WONCbib.pdf, and I’ll let readers make up their own minds on the matter, keeping in mind that it is nearly five years old.
    I’m in complete agreement, though, that developing and maintaining a website to complement a book is useful and, by and large, great fun.
    All the best,

  2. Haidy Geismar April 27, 2007 at 5:01 pm #

    Sorry Michael, as the rather hurried author of this post I should have made it clearer that I was just referring to the fact that the book does not have a conventional bibliography, as the references are contained within the endnotes. I personally find the site much easier to navigate in terms of following up references (for some reason I find it easier to follow hyperlinks than to flick from pages to the endnotes, and the bibliography you provide online above is not in the book in that same form, unless I have a different edition) and was just trying to make the point that the website provides a much richer source of reference for the reader than the notes at the end because it can be continually added to. I was drawing a distinction between the electronic resource and the paper resource. The main point which I hope did come across which is that the electronic resource (also of course authored by you) is a treasure-trove of references which can be continually developed, unlike the more static form of a paper book.

  3. Michael Brown, Williams College April 27, 2007 at 7:56 pm #

    I take your point, Haidy. A development that’s relevant to your main discussion is that every year it gets harder to convince publishers to include the apparatus of scholarship in books. Even a terrific academic press like Harvard UP doesn’t encourage authors to include an alphabetized references-cited section, preferring instead the end-note format. Like you, I find these hard to use, which is why I posted the alphabetized bibliography on the website. It’s been argued that exiling notes and bibliographies from books to the web is a bad idea. There’s some truth to that, and I prefer to see a book’s website as an adjunct to and elaboration of the book, not a substitute for what should have been in it when published. But it is a terrific way to make things like color photographs or large data-sets available to interested readers who’ll never find them in books.
    Perhaps the biggest pleasure has been the way the website encourages people to establish contact, sometimes to make me aware of their own work (much of which has been well worth reading), sometimes to let me know about developing situations in which I or others might be interested.

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