Chapter 22 - Abstract and author bios

22. Collaborative Encounters in Digital Cultural Property: Tracing Temporal Relationships of Context and Locality

Jane Anderson and Maria Montenegro

This chapter is about the different kinds of collaboration that Indigenous communities and cultural institutions like museums, libraries and archives are currently directly engaged in over valuable collections of tangible and intangible cultural property. Taking seriously the concern that the ongoing power relationships inherent within the digital realm need to be more closely teased apart, it focuses on three examples of negotiation. In each of these the often murky, hidden, and uncomfortable questions of legal ownership emerge. This leads us to argue that unless legal title and copyright ownership are properly addressed in the ever-emerging sites of collaboration, there are very real limits to the decolonial futures that these collections can have.

Jane Anderson is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at New York University. Her work is focused on the philosophical and practical problems of intellectual property law, repatriation and Indigenous rights. She works with a variety of Native American communities negotiating control and ownership over tribal knowledge resources and cultural heritage held within archives and museums. Her most recent project, with Kim Christen, is Local Contexts ( This project includes the new Traditional Knowledge (TK) Labels as an educational intervention to address the needs of Indigenous communities to manage their intellectual property rights and cultural heritage specifically within the digital environment. 

Maria Montenegro has a Master’s in Museum Studies from New York University and is a PhD candidate in Information Studies at University of California, Los Angeles. Her work is focused on the digital collaborations between museums and Native communities at the intersections of Indigenous knowledge systems with intellectual property law. She also works with Jane Anderson at Local Contexts and with Kim Christen at the Sustainable Heritage Network.