Main Article Content
Intangible cultural heritage archives face a dilemma when it comes to repatriation. Claims and counterclaims from source communities must be balanced within legal frames and ethical obligations of museums to give back, restitute, or redress past perceived injustices, while maintaining the essential preservation functions of a heritage archive. This paper examines this dilemma through the illustrative case study of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, a unique collection that is at once an archival collection of traditional music and recorded sound from all over the world, and a nonprofit record label housed in the U.S. national museum since 1987.With a duty to keep its catalogue available in perpetuity, a mandate to pay its own way, and a mission of cultural documentation, collaborative curation, and broad appeal to global audiences, Smithsonian Folkways practices digital repatriation (of audio recordings) and circulation of indigenous knowledge (through publication, payment of royalties and license fees). The paper describes four cases of returns from Folkways’ evolving repatriation practice, offering useful ways of thinking about museum obligations with intangible heritage returns, and several ways of redistributing individual artists’ rights and their communities’ rights to control use of their music even when legal rights of ownership remain with the institution.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms: 1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgment of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. 2. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgment of its initial publication in this journal. 3. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work. 4. While MAR adopts the above strategies in line with best practices common to the open access journal community, it urges authors to promote use of this journal (in lieu of subsequent duplicate publication of unaltered papers) and to acknowledge the unpaid investments made during the publication process by peer-reviewers, editors, copy editors, programmers, layout editors and others involved in supporting the work of the journal.