Upcoming | Day | Week | Month

Isabel Hofmeyr Lecture

Colonial Copyright, Customs and Port Cities: Intellectual Property and Material Histories

Friday, November 3, 2017, 4:00pm

Sassafras Room, Indiana Memorial Union

Can colonial copyright provide us with accounts of intellectual property that complicate existing understandings which are largely extrapolated from European histories?

Colonial copyright was shaped by the mobility of objects and texts and the attempts to govern them. The institutions that become analytically pertinent for understanding copyright are hence somewhat different from those established as normative in the European scholarship. One such site was Customs and Excise in the port city, the funnel through which all print material coming from outside the colony had to pass. Customs officials generally had little understanding of copyright legislation which encompassed a complex web of imperial law, colonial law and the Berne Convention. Unable to fathom which law was supposed to apply where, customs officials had to elaborate their own sets of understandings and practices which they elaborated from their routines and procedures for governing and classifying the objects that passed through their jurisdiction. This talk traces such procedures, focusing on southern African colonial port cities and their maritime-border making processes in relation to both people and objects. It argues that we need to understand colonial copyright as part of this dockside politics of maritime-border making.

Co-sponsored by the College Arts & Humanities Institute and the African Studies Program.

For more information, please contact Pedro Machado at pmachado@indiana.edu