How Indigenous People Are Reshaping the Northwest Coast Art Industry
Fragments of culture often become commodities when the tourism and heritage business showcases local artistic and cultural practice. And frequently, this industry is developed without the consent of those whose culture is being commercialized. What does this say about appropriation, social responsibility, and intercultural relationships? And what happens when local communities become more involved in this cultural marketplace?
Based on eighteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, Incorporating Culture examines how Northwest Coast Indigenous artists and entrepreneurs are cultivating more equitable relationships with the companies that reproduce their designs on everyday objects. Focusing on the vibrant Indigenous art industry in Vancouver, Solen Roth details how artists are slowly but surely modifying an essentially capitalist market to reflect Indigenous models of property, relationships, and economics.
Moving beyond the assumption that the commodification of Indigenous culture is necessarily exploitative, Incorporating Culture discusses how communities can treat culture as a resource in a way that nurtures rather than depletes it. From this fresh perspective, Roth sheds light on the processes by which Indigenous people have been asserting control over the Northwest Coast art industry – not by shutting the market down but by reshaping it in order to reflect their communities’ values and ways of life.
Scholars and students in a broad range of disciplines who are interested in the relationship between commerce and Indigenous art and design will find this book illuminating, as will thoughtful participants in the Indigenous art market.
- 2019, Short-listed - Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize, UBC Library
- 2019, Winner - K.D. Srivastava Prize for Excellence in Scholarly Publishing, UBC Press
- 2020, Short-listed - The Society for Economic Anthropology Book Prize, Society for Economic Anthropology
Roth takes a refreshing approach to Northwest Coast art. It does not privilege the historical, nor the fine art market or ceremonial art. Rather, Roth takes seriously the artware made to leave Indigenous communities. She makes a compelling case for reframing the ‘souvenir’ art market on the Pacific Coast as ‘culturally modified capitalism,’ in which Indigenous stakeholders actively shape this industry in locally meaningful ways through intensive engagement with provincial, federal, and global systems.
There is no other book on Native American art like Incorporating Culture. It brings forward new and fascinating perspectives on the myriad examples of Northwest Coast First Nations artware seen in shops, revealing the strength of Northwest Coast values and practices as they penetrate and influence what might be seen from the outside as a strictly capitalist venture.
Introduction: (Giving) Back to “the way it should be”
1 A Controversial Industry
2 Expansion | Protection
3 Globalization | Localization
4 Property and Contracts | Stewardship and Relationality
5 Accumulation | Redistribution
Conclusion: Indigenous Sovereignty and the Sustainability of Culturally Modified Capitalism
Native Art of the Northwest Coast
A History of Changing Ideas
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