Thinking Transnationally: Cultural Diversity, Cultural Rights and Cultural Policy in a Globalized World
Cultural policy has been traditionally understood as a national legislative and regulatory activity that is primarily concerned with arts funding (e.g. national arts councils), cultural heritage management (e.g. museums) and the regulation of media and mass communications (e.g. broadcasting and telecommunications). Globalization and neoliberalism, however, have redefined the scope and scale of cultural policy. National governments no longer provide the exclusive fora in which cultural policy is forged, nor are they the sole agents in these deliberations. Cultural policy is being produced and negotiated outside of national arenas, across a wide range of political scales, through a greater range of legal instruments, and in a field of transnationally networked actors.
The growing scope of cultural policy has coincided with an international recognition that culture is a valuable social and economic resource. This has resulted in culture receiving an increasing amount of attention in international legal arenas where culture has become the terrain on which numerous struggles for rights and recognition are taking place. Consequently, the legal regulation of culture has become a transnational project that brings together discourses of cultural commodification, human rights, and cultural difference to form governmental assemblages that have profound social, economic and political consequences.
Emerging in the late 1990s as a ‘global’ policy concern, the movement to protect and promote cultural diversity has been vaulted to the forefront of international political and legal agendas. In this interdisciplinary project, I examine the way in which cultural diversity has developed as a space of governance, but also as an imaginative space where cultural diversity becomes the node around which debates over human rights, development and self-determination take place. I draw on the work of legal anthropologists, legal geographers, critical legal scholars and critical cultural studies scholars to address a number of contemporary socio-legal issues such as human rights struggles, culture and accommodation debates, indigenous rights, and the role of civil society in transnational law and policy making. Drawing on my original interviews with civil society organizations in Canada, Denmark and South Africa, I consider how “global” cultural policy making intersects with new forms of representation and human rights activism, recognizing the constitutive nature of law and its ability to shape and reshape social relationships and cultural identities.
IPinCH Fellowship Project:
Managing Heritage Resources: Developing Community Based Cultural Policy in an Era of Cultural Diversity and Cultural Rights.
No longer the sole domain of the nation-state, cultural policy is now being produced and negotiated across a wide range of political contexts, through a greater range of legal instruments, and in a field of internationally networked actors and instruments, including through assumption of jurisdiction by self-governing First Nations. While a great deal of attention has been given to the way in which local communities adopt domestic and international legal norms, little attention has been paid to potential impact that community cultural policy development may have on the direction of federal and international policy frameworks and mandates. Managing Heritage Resources: Developing Community Based Cultural Policy in an Era of Cultural Diversity and Cultural Rights is a project designed to explore the way in which self-governing First Nations who are involved as independent governments and participants in heritage policy development processes, can and are providing progressive culture policy templates that may ‘trickle up’ to influence federal and international cultural policy frameworks.
With a specific focus on Canada and heritage management policies, this project examines how international legal rules, norms and values are translated into local contexts, while also exploring how community norms and values are translated into larger federal legal frameworks. Guiding my inquiry are questions such as: are community driven cultural policies in Canada using international cultural policy norms as a means to develop progressive policy templates? Are community-based heritage management policies impacting the direction and development of Canadian Heritage policy beyond a local level? Does the development of cultural management policy sourced in First Nation values and practices help to reconcile historically contentious relationships between indigenous communities and the nation-state? Taken together these research questions provide the basis for considering the way in which Indigenous communities are challenging the traditional role of the nation-state as the sole developer and administer of cultural policy and engaging in legal pluralist projects that emphasize cultural diversity as a central cultural rights value.