Chapter 11 - Abstract and author bios

11. Touching the Intangible: Reconsidering Material Culture in the Realm of Indigenous Cultural Property Research

George P. Nicholas

The emphasis on the tangible (vs. intangible) aspects of cultural property has skewed our understanding of “heritage” and what should be preserved, particularly in the context of Indigenous cultural property. This has had a detrimental impact upon Indigenous peoples worldwide. This chapter examines differences between Western and Indigenous perspectives on cultural property, and the subsequent challenges for protecting Indigenous heritage. A series of case studies, from Canadian and other contexts, illustrate the need for alternative strategies, and the benefits that may follow.

George Nicholas is a Professor of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and an adjunct professor of Archaeology at Flinders University. He was the founding director of SFU’s Indigenous Archaeology Program in Kamloops (1991–2005), and has worked closely with Indigenous peoples worldwide. Nicholas’ research focuses on Indigenous peoples and archaeology, intellectual property, the archaeology and human ecology of wetlands, and archaeological theory. He directed the Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH) project (2018–2016), an eight-year, international collaboration concerned with the theoretical, ethical, and practical implications of commodification and appropriation of heritage, and other flows of knowledge about the past, and with how these may affect communities, researchers, and other stakeholders. In 2013, he received the first ‘Partnership Impact Award’ from Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.