Sports and Sovereignty: An Interview with Antonio Sotomayor

Antonio Sotomayor, PhD, an Assistant Professor and Latin American and Caribbean Studies Librarian at the International & Area Studies Library at Illinois

This week we speak with our very own Latin and American and Caribbean Studies Specialist Antonio Sotomayor about his debut full-length book The Sovereign Colony: Olympic Sport, National Identity, and International Politics in Puerto Rico. In March 2016, Dr. Sotomayor and his book received an in-depth profile from the Illinois News Bureau in addition to other national and international coverage. Since the 2016 Olympic games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are growing ever nearer, we caught up with the author for a few more questions about this fascinating and little-studied topic.

Glocal Notes: Your book takes as its thesis that national sovereignty can be, more than many other means under colonial rule, expressed through athletics. What are some of the real impacts on politics or public opinion that have occurred as a result of Puerto Rico’s competition and success as a team in internationally?

Antonio Sotomayor: It depends on what you mean by “real.” I view Olympic sport, and sport overall, not only as representative of politics or culture, but as politics as such and as a cultural medium. In that regard, Puerto Rico’s membership as a sovereign nation in the Olympic Movement has “real” implications in the different dynamics involved in the Olympic movement that include international relations, foreign diplomacy, representations of the nation, women’s agency in a patriarchal society, etc. Hence, Olympic participation for Puerto Ricans has given them a voice on several international political issues throughout the existence of the delegation including the Good Neighbor policy, post-WWII reconstructions, different Cold War boycotts, etc. For example, in my book, I dedicate a chapter to the Cold War conflicts that came with Puerto Rico’s hosting of the Central American and Caribbean Games in San Juan in 1966 and discuss the different ways Puerto Ricans navigated Cold War and regional politics in relation to the participation of Revolutionary Communist Cuba. Some Puerto Ricans, as allies of the United States, wanted to exclude the Cuban delegation due to their communist ideologies and were even willing to go against any policy by the U.S. to uphold their beliefs. Other Puerto Ricans – those who sympathized with Communist Cuba – defended their Caribbean “brothers” and were willing to risk their freedom to do this. This event caught the attention of the regional and international media and the resolution involved the direct intermediation of the International Olympic Movement led by an American, Avery Brundage (President of the International Olympic Committee), and a Soviet, A. Andrianov (Vice-President).

GN: The internationally competing Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team is another example of sovereignty through sports. Can you tell us about any other examples of this phenomenon, whether historical, current, or in the planning stages.

AS: The Philippines competed at the 1916 East Asian Games as a sovereign country despite being a U.S. colony. Scotland participates as a sovereign nation in the FIFA World Cup – but with Great Britain at the Olympic Games. Taiwan participates as a sovereign nation at the Olympic Games as Chinese Taipei. On the other hand, the lack of Olympic sovereignty, despite being a cultural nation, can be seen in places like Catalonia, in Spain, which has petitioned to be recognized as an Olympic nation since the early twentieth century. These examples only portray how the Olympic Movement, rather than an apolitical movement focused on entertainment, makes very political decisions by allowing some countries to participate and denying recognition to others.

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Sotomayor, Antonio. (2016) The Sovereign Colony: Olympic Sport, National Identity, and International Politics in Puerto Rico. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

GN: In your opinion, what are Puerto Rico’s chances of becoming a U.S. state or otherwise altering its political status in any way?

AS: Under the current socio-political, economic, and cultural conditions in the United States, I highly doubt that Puerto Rico will become a state of the Union. As for altering its status in any way, we’ll have to keep paying attention.

GN: There has been much in the news lately about Puerto Rico’s economic situation. Can you explain a bit about this?

AS: This is a very complicated issue and given that I’m not an economist, I might be misrepresenting the issue. But in very general terms, Puerto Ricans have had a complicated relationship with the U.S. and have grown increasingly dependent on U.S. markets. This occurred as early as 1898 when the U.S. took possession of the island after the Spanish-American War by transforming the growing local economy to fit U.S. capitalistic market interests. Local capital was destroyed in order to create dependency on U.S. goods and capital. This did not only happen through one-sided U.S. intervention; local capitalists who benefited from the new relations were also involved. Reforms during the mid-twentieth century only brought in further investment by providing tax incentives, a practice that continued until the 1970s. After new free trade agreements allowed U.S. businesses to relocate to cheaper markets, Puerto Rico slowly lost its edge and Congress eliminated the provisions for the tax incentives during a ten-year process, from 1996-2006. The remaining companies that left in 2006, coupled with the Great Recession of 2008,  created a “down-spiral of death” in the economy. Again, I’m oversimplifying the process. I would recommend that those interested in these issues read Judge Juan Torruella’s recent speech at the John Jay School of Law for a brilliant summary of the crisis.

GN: You open your book with a description of the thrill you felt while watching the live broadcast of Puerto Rico’s basketball team as they defeated the U.S. “Dream Team,” 92 points to 73, at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens. What are some other important events in Puerto Rican athletic history?

AS: My book is not really a chronicle of great games or great events in Puerto Rican sport history. As a U.S. colony, I think  the greatest event in Puerto Rico’s Olympic history is having an Olympic delegation in the first place, a process negotiated with the most powerful empire the world has known. This story of Olympic agency and will is Puerto Rico’s greatest achievement.

GN: Finally, if our readers ever travel to Puerto Rico, what are some must-do, sports-related activities they should add to their itinerary?

AS: They should attend a professional baseball game during the winter season. The Professional Baseball League of Puerto Rico was established in 1938 and was, along with the one in Cuba, a training ground for some Hall of Fame major leaguers like Willie Mays, Josh Gibson, Perucho Cepeda, and Puerto Rico’s national hero, Roberto Clemente. The league champions participate at the famous Caribbean Series of professional baseball. They should also attend a basketball game of Puerto Rico’s Baloncesto Superior Nacional league, the island’s most popular sport along with baseball. At these games, the visitor will experience Caribbean sports, which are full of passion, music, and talent. As for sightseeing, they should visit the Parque Sixto Escobar, an art-deco stadium from 1935, named after Puerto Rico’s first boxing hero. The stadium is next to the popular Escambrón Beach. You can also visit the Casa Olímpica de Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico’s Olympic Headquarters. Occupying the original YMCA building, the facility is great for hosting events and has an Olympic gym open to the public. A must-visit is Puerto Rico’s Albergue Olímpico in Salinas. There are athletic facilities to practice many sports and recreational activities. There are also children’s parks and pools, and you can visit Puerto Rico’s Olympic Museum.

Sustainability Around the World

With last week’s observance of Earth Day and the celebration of Arbor Day this Friday, April 29th in the United States, we’ve decided to look a little more closely at the efforts of the world’s most sustainable countries. The Yale Environmental Performance Index (EPI) ranks countries’ performances on two high-priority environmental issues: protection of human health and protection of ecosystems. The 3 countries that rank highest in EPI score in 2016 are, in order, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden. This blog post will celebrate the sustainable progress of these countries and examine what they’re doing to promote the health of the earth and its inhabitants.

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Northern Lights, photo taken from Dave Grubb on Flickr Creative Commons

Finland

According to ThisisFINLAND, produced by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, 32% of the total energy use in Finland is renewable energy. The Carbon Neutral Municipalities (Canemu) Project, launched in 2008, brings together five Finnish municipalities committed to cutting their emissions by an ambitious 80% by the year 2030. By switching heating schemes to fossil-free biofuels like woodchips, recycling waste, and thinking creatively about other solutions, the Canemu Project has already made immense progress. Finland’s dedication to sustainability is backed by their commitment to promoting education regarding environmental protection. Environment Online (ENO) is a Finnish interdisciplinary and virtual school that intends to get teachers and students around the world to discuss sustainability and act together. ENO has spread to 5,000 schools around the globe and gets students to learn by doing. Not only does ENO intend to plant 100 million regionally indigenous trees around the world by 2017, but the school also works toward goals of bringing peace to the world through sustainable education and action.

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Fjaðrárgljúfur, photo taken from Andrés Nieto Porras on Flickr Creative Commons

Iceland

Iceland’s dependence on fisheries and exports of seafood make sustainable harvesting of marine resources both an economic and environmental concern. Iceland implements a quota system in fisheries, advocates for an end to pollution of the oceans on a global scale, and takes an active role against persistent organic pollutants. The Icelandic Soil Conservation Service has been thinking sustainably and taking steps to fight soil erosion in the country’s large wilderness areas since 1907. Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, is already one of the greenest cities in the world. But it is aiming to take its status a step further by being entirely free of fossil fuels by 2050. The city has a long history of using geothermal energy and has saved an estimated 110m tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the atmosphere between the years 1944 to 2006. While this success is largely due to the development of the city atop a volcanic region, Reykjavik’s commitment to sustainable living is admirable and something to keep an eye on in the coming years.

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Stockholm, photo taken from Tommie Hansen from Flickr Creative Commons

Sweden

The Swedish Institute stresses that sustainability is a way of life for most Swedes. This lifestyle is demonstrated by several initiatives across many Swedish cities. Sweden made a huge step toward sustainability in the early 1990s when the country switched from oil to district heating, the use of a centralized boiler to provide heat for a number of buildings. The central plant uses clean forms of fuel and also makes use of recycled heat from industries that might otherwise go to waste. Växjö, Sweden was the first city in the world to set a fossil-free goal back in 1996, hoping to reach it by 2030. Växjö encourages urban gardening and cycling, and its public transportation runs on biogas and other forms of renewable energy. Urban farming in allotment gardens is a hobby of Swedes across the country and urban beekeeping has been on the rise. “Passive houses,” which are low-energy buildings that power themselves through the use of energy from people’s body heat, have been popping up in a number of Swedish communities. Stockholm’s Central Station contains a geothermal system that captures body heat from over 250,000 daily commuters. The heat is channeled into water, which is then pumped into the nearby Kungsbrohuset office building to provide heat. The building cools itself with water from nearby Klara Lake.

To learn more about sustainable development around the world, check out the World Sustainable Development Web Archive, hosted by the International & Area Studies Library. Please comment below and let us know of other innovative, sustainable initiatives around the world that you find interesting. And be sure to like our Facebook page for more posts like these!

Honduras Water Project: Part 2

This blog post is a follow-up to a post from last semester about the Honduras Water Project. This course, which provides students the chance to see how learning can have real life applications, is an extremely unique opportunity for students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

UIUC flyer for the Honduras Water Project Course

A University of Illinois flyer for the Honduras Water Project course

The two-semester long course is supported by the College of Engineering and included a research trip to Cerro Verde, Honduras over winter break. A small group of students was accompanied by professors Ann-Perry Witmer and Keilin Jahnke in visiting the small community site. While there we conducted surveys, both technical and social, and also included a health education workshop to work in correlation with our studies from the fall semester and also to aid in our efforts for this spring semester as well.

During our 10 days there, we lived in the community with the local people and stayed in a regional home, living on dirt floors without a shower for 10 days. Through this experience, we were able to see just a small amount of what life is like in the community. We built friendships and mutual respect during our time in Cerro Verde, and we left with new friendships and a greater drive to complete this project of developing a reliable water distribution system. Students representing each of the four divided teams– social, political, water, and structures– carried out various tasks during the trip to collect needed information for the water distribution system, and also to conduct health education workshops in the community.

The UIUC students, faculty, and our friends from our partner NGO, ADEC. photo credit: Jesse Han

The University of Illinois students, faculty, and our friends from our partnering nongovernmental organization, Agua y Desarrollo Comunitario (ADEC) [Water and Community Development] Photo Credit: Jesse Han

The social team was responsible for conducting household surveys at each of the 46 houses in Cerro Verde. Prior to arriving to Honduras, we created a survey for basic demographic information, household water usage, and overall community health. We interviewed community members from every household in the community. Not only did this provide us with vital information to aid in the construction of the system, but it also allowed us to create relationships with everyone in the community. By the end of the trip, we could not only remember people’s names, but we could also tell you where they lived, how many children they had, and how accessible water was for them.

The Social team conducting household surveys in the community. photo credit: Keilin Jahnke

Two members of the Social team, Wendy Vergara and Ashley Adams, conducting household surveys in the community.
Photo Credit: Keilin Jahnke

The social team also conducted a health education workshop with the help of Oneida Lara Garcia, one of the water quality specialists for our partnering nongovernmental organization, Agua y Desarrollo Comunitario (ADEC) (Water and Community Development). The workshop was originally intended for children, but was expanded when nearly the entire community came to participate.

When asked about the importance of educational workshops in collaboration with international projects, Wendy Vergara, a sophomore in natural resources and environmental science said,

“It’s easy to overlook some of the resources we have in America. When it comes to early education, we don’t second guess it. Not something you think about because it’s required. It’s a resource that is given and provided to nearly everyone in the States. So when you visit a community like Cerro Verde, who only has one school room for all the children, you start to see the opportunities you have that they don’t. These school rooms are very limited in supplies and staff. The community doesn’t have their own teacher, but instead a teacher from a nearby community volunteers their time. This teacher tries to teach all grades at once, and you can feel how difficult that can be. Educational workshops further develop community members’ skills, and allow for information to be communicated to both children and adults. They provide visual knowledge essential to the community such as chlorinating water. Especially due to minimal literacy rates, some people may misuse products or go by word of mouth, which poses a threat to their health. Workshops can help decrease miscommunication and promote a safe space for them to ask questions.”

 

Children and community members gathered for the health education workshop. photo credit: Jesse Han

Children and community members gathered for the health education workshop.
Photo Credit: Jesse Han

The structures team had the opportunity to do the most hiking out of all the teams, although all of us got good exercise climbing through the mountainous area. They surveyed all the points in the community that could be included in the water distribution system. After finishing, two architecture students were able to create a more accurate map of all the houses on site. The Patronato, or, community leaders, requested a copy to post in their community building as well.

Kelsey Schreiber, a senior in general engineering, when discussing the the biggest challenge for the structures team said,

“The most difficult task. . . was ensuring that all of the homes being serviced were properly accounted for and surveyed. Between finding remote homes, distinguishing between current and future plots, and getting the correct homeowner names, we were never quite sure if we had all the correct information. Similarly, climbing the hills every day was brutal but built character.”

 

The nearly finalized schematic of the water distribution system pipelines throughout Cerro Verde.

The nearly finalized schematic of the water distribution system pipelines throughout Cerro Verde.

The water team spent most of its time at the water source which was higher up in the mountains. They performed various tests for flow rate and water quality to help decide which source would be best suited for the system.

When asked what the most interesting thing about the trip to Cerro Verde was, Rahul Koshy, a junior in molecular and cellular biology said,

“We were exposed to people who grew up in a different culture and lived a different lifestyle, but there was definitely an underlying similarity between these and the people I’ve known all my life. I found that it was really easy to relate to the members of Cerro Verde even though they had a very different background than me. This is a small thing to learn, but it has changed the way I view people on the news, people on the streets, people in my life etc.”

 

The water team taking measurements and doing testing at a potential source. photo credit: Jesse Han

The water team taking measurements and doing testing at a potential source.
Photo Credit: Jesse Han

The political team also had an important job, working with the Patronato. It worked to make sure that there was complete transparency between the community, our class, and the NGO. It is imperative for this course, and for international projects, that the community take ownership of the project and that they are involved in every aspect of the planning, design, and implementation. An exciting accomplishment this year was that for the first time in Honduras Water Project’s history that the political team was able to draft and sign a complete agreement with the community and ADEC while still in Honduras.

Samantha Morrow, a senior in earth, society, and environmental sustainability and also global studies, when asked what benefit there is for having a signed agreement has for the project said, 

“The written agreement is extremely important to the project for multiple reasons. Signing this document while we were in Cerro Verde allowed the Patronato and community to have physical evidence of our commitment to this project. This document keeps all parties accountable for their stated responsibilities and will protect the rights of all parties. Without this document the community might lose faith that this project will move forward or believe that we are not committed to the project. Additionally, this document allows us to hold the community accountable to protecting the system and maintaining its sustainability.”

 

The signed agreement between the community of Cerro Verde, the NGO partner ADEC, and UIUC's Honduras Water Project class.

The signed agreement between the community of Cerro Verde, ADEC, and the University of Illinois’ Honduras Water Project class.

The fall semester of our course consisted of preliminary research and also preparations for the trip in January 2016. This semester we have focused on creating the most appropriate system for the community. Our class has been in constant contact with ADEC, as well as the community regarding every step and decision in the design process. 

Keilin Jahnke is a PhD student in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and professor for the course. When asked what benefit can come from spending time in the community that one is working with for an international engineering project, she responded saying,

“It can be easy to sit in a classroom thousands of miles away from the community that you are working with and think of nothing else besides the technical components of the project. But actually experiencing the community, living with the people you are working with, gives you the social and cultural context that is vital for the project’s success. No longer are you just working on an engineering project, you are acting as a consultant to real people who have real lives, real intricacies, real needs.”

 

This course, ENG 398/498: Honduras Water Project, is led every year and is open to all students.It not only teaches you new technical knowledge, but it can also provide new perspectives about approaching international work. It has has encouraged me to pursue a master degree in engineering as these efforts blend STEM and interdisciplinary studies, and always promote a holistic approach towards international projects.

To hear more about the final design for the water distribution system for Cerro Verde come to the John Deere Pavilion onTuesday, May 3, 2016 from 4:00- 6:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome! For additional information, visit the Honduras Water Project website and/or contact Professor Ann-Perry Witmer.

Flyer for our Final Presentation May 3, 2016

Flyer for the course’s final presentation May 3, 2016

 

Crimes of Fashion: Intellectual Property and Indigenous Dress

Last week, Lady Justice tipped her scales against the cultural appropriation practices of big fashion. In the (potentially) landmark case of Navajo Nation v. Urban Outfitters, a federal judge in New Mexico has ruled against the corporate distributor of “Navajo” themed underwear.  The corporation claimed that the Navajo Nation knowingly delayed legal action in order to persecute the company. In turn, the Navajo Nation is argued that Urban Outfitters’ misuse of the Navajo name is trademark infringement and a violation of the US Indian Arts & Crafts Act of 1990. As a result of the ruling, the Navajo Nation is now one step closer to a multi-million-dollar payout and a watershed moment for the indigenous intellectual property movement. [Source: Zerbo]

Image Credit: “Navajo” Hipster Panty. Urban Outfitters via www.thefashionlaw.com

Image Credit: “Navajo” Hipster Panty. Urban Outfitters via www.thefashionlaw.com

Urban Outfitters isn’t the first (or likely the last) to participate in such practices, which are reliant on privilege (racial, economic, cultural, or other) and dependent on a lack of legal agency among indigenous groups. Rather, the fashion industry – from haute couture to K-mart – has an obsessive penchant for cultural plagiarism and exploitation. Until now, these practices have remained largely unchecked. While there has been a push towards the adoption of ethical fashion practices, designers need only give a lukewarm apology or explanation to be forgiven. Cases of blatant racism and aesthetic piracy are written off as mere faux pas and forgotten by the next fashion season.

However, indigenous groups like the Navajo Nation are now establishing a new model for combating corporate exploitation by claiming intellectual property rights and trademarking traditional designs. The Navajo Nation is but among several indigenous communities around the world pursuing legal avenues to protect their identities and material culture.

Maasai, East Africa
Since 2009, the Maasai of Eastern Africa have been working to control their identity and material culture. They also seek compensation from appropriating companies, which accrue an estimated $100 million/year from the use of the Maasai name and visual culture. The Maasai campaign follows closely on the heels of the Ethiopian trademark initiative (2004-2007), in which the Ethiopian government fought to gain ownership of its own coffee industry. If victorious in their claim, the Maasai would be able to earn upwards of $10 million in licensing revenues. At the moment, though, the Maasai remain embroiled in the tough battle to protect their culture and identity as companies continue to profit. [Sources: Birch; Faris]

Image Credist: Pharrell Williams for GQ Magazine (Oct 2014) via www.kenyavibe.com and Louis Vuitton (2011) via the Daily Nation (www.nation.co.ke)

Image Credist: Pharrell Williams for GQ Magazine (Oct 2014) via www.kenyavibe.com

Image Credist: Pharrell Williams for GQ Magazine (Oct 2014) via www.kenyavibe.com and Louis Vuitton (2011) via the Daily Nation (www.nation.co.ke)

Image Credist: Louis Vuitton (2011) via the Daily Nation (www.nation.co.ke)

Northern Cheyenne/Crow, North America
In February 2015, indigenous blogger Adrienne Keene published a scathing piece on a plagiarist New York Fashion Week collection that featured several replicated designs by indigenous designer Bethany Yellowtail of the Crow people. Fashion label KTZ (the brand behind the infamous swan dress worn by Icelandic pop star Bjork in 2001) was responsible for appropriating traditional techniques and styles of numerous indigenous groups under the guise of honor. After the story went viral, Yellowtail took a firm stand in her claims against several exploitative industry practices: unapologetic cultural theft, a severe lack of creative integrity, and the systemic erasure of indigenous peoples through fashion. Yellowtail fought back to prevent KTZ’s collection from ever hitting stores and used the situation to advocate support for indigenous design brands. [Source: Keene]

Image Credit: Bethany Yellowtail (2014) and KTZ (2015) via www.nativeappropriations.com

Image Credit: Bethany Yellowtail (2014) and KTZ (2015) via www.nativeappropriations.com

Nunavut, Northern Canada
Less than a year later, KTZ was back in the headlines for copying a sacred Nunavut design. KTZ lifted the design from a photograph in the book Northern Voices, which contains a photograph of a distinct style of protective parka, and retailed at over $900. Salome Awe, the granddaughter of the Nunavut shaman in the photograph, went public after KTZ repeatedly refused contact. As a result of the widespread social media backlash against KTZ, many distributors pulled the garment from the racks. Later, the label addressed Awe and her claims of cultural piracy in a public statement that reinforced KTZ’s commitment to “honoring” indigenous peoples the world over. Awe is currently pursing legal action against KTZ, which would require the company to forfeit profits from the garments in question to the Nunavut community. [Source: Off and Douglass]

Image Credit: Bethany Yellowtail (2014) and KTZ (2015) via www.nativeappropriations.com

Image Credit: Bethany Yellowtail (2014) and KTZ (2015) via www.nativeappropriations.com

Mixe, Mexico
At the same time, the women of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, have begun to retaliate against the cultural appropriation of a Mixe traditional garment by French designer Isabel Marant. In June 2015, news broke that Isabel Marant and fashion label Antik Batik were in legal disputes over the ownership of a blouse design that was created by the Mixe people. The Secretary of Indigenous Matters in Oaxaca responded by issuing a statement of his intention to take legal action. If either designer brands were to obtain a patent, the Mixe women who produce and sell these garments would be required to compensate the patent owners for the use of traditional Mixe designs. To date, both Marant and Antik Batik reject claims that they own or have ever sought ownership of the design. However, the notion that a designer could potentially patent material culture of indigenous community would result in a major setback for the indigenous intellectual property movement. [Sources: Milligan; Rodriguez-Jimenez]

Image Credit: Tweet by Development Pros, featuring traditional Mixe blouse (left) and Isabel Marant copy (right) via Vogue UK. www.vogue.co.uk

Image Credit: Tweet by Development Pros, featuring traditional Mixe blouse (left) and Isabel Marant copy (right) via Vogue UK. www.vogue.co.uk

 

NEW ERA OF FASHION ACTIVISM
In addition to combating cultural appropriation and corporate exploitation head-on, indigenous communities have helped to spawn a new era of ethical, sustainable fashion activism. Recently, an emerging model for culturally responsible design has emerged: indigenous-centered design. This model demands the increased representation of indigenous designers, who are uniquely positioned to incorporate indigenous knowledge without using exploitative practices. Indigenous designers are demonstrating how fashion can engage in aesthetic exchange without harming the original designers – the communities who, over generations, have perfected techniques, created complex systems of meaning and visual languages, and developed unique aesthetic qualities that reflect the way in which they see themselves and the world around them. Crow designer Bethany Yellowtail, mentioned above, is one such designer. Her designs are influenced by Native American history (but sans redface). [Source: Cheney-Rice]

Alongside the growing community of indigenous designers is a very small group of non-indigenous designers who are committed to creating sustainable artistic partnerships with indigenous communities. These allies are part of a new crop of culturally literate designers who have grown discontent with the current model of “ethical fashion,” in large part, they believe, spearheaded by designer Vivienne Westwood – herself accused of repeated use of blackface and in general suffering from a white-savior-of-Africa complex – and the Ethical Fashion Initiative.

Recently, the work of Brazilian designer and UNESCO Ambassador Oksare Metsavaht has taken on a more collaborative approach that moves towards equitable fashion design and aesthetics. Called “responsible borrowing,” this model is based on receiving permission from and compensating indigenous communities for the use of their designs and techniques. Metsavaht’s partnership with the Asháninka tribe of the Brazilian and Peruvian rainforest is bound by contractual agreement, in which Metsavaht’s clothing label is responsible for compensating the Asháninka (in an amount stipulated by the tribe), advocating against deforestation, as well as the transport of two Asháninka leaders to UN Conferences. [Sources: Avins; Varagur]

For more on the Asháninka/Metsavaht collaboration, click here.

 

OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST
Indigenous Runway Project
Miromoda — Indigenous Māori Fashion Apparel Board
Native Fashion Now at Peabody Essex Museum
Eff Yeah Indigenous Fashion!


FURTHER READING
Anderson, Jane. Indigenous / Traditional Knowledge & Intellectual Property. Duke University School of Law (2010). http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/pdf/ip_indigenous-traditionalknowledge.pdf

Drahos, Peter. Intellectual Property, Indigenous People and Their Knowledge. Cambridge University Press (2014). Available in the UIUC Library.

Drabos, Peter and Susy Frankel. Indigenous people’s innovation: intellectual property pathways to development. ANU E-Press (2012). Available through the UIUC Library.

Lai, Jessica C. Indigenous Cultural Heritage and Intellectual Property Rights: Learning from The New Zealand Experience? Spring (2014). Available through the UIUC Library.

Mazonde, Isaac Ncube.Thomas, Pradip., eds. Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Intellectual Property Rights in The Twenty-first Century: Perspectives from Southern Africa. Dakar, Senegal: Council for The Development of Social Science Research in Africa (2007). Available in the UIUC Library.


SOURCES
Avins, Jenni. In fashion, cultural appropriation is either very wrong or very right. Quartz (Oct. 2015).

Birch, Stephanie. About Face: Africa and Global Fashion Revolution. Academia.edu (2015).

Cheney-Rice, Zak. Stunning Images Show How Native American Fashion Looks Without Cultural Appropriation. Mic.com (May 2015).

Ducharme, Steve. Nunavut woman descended from shaman says KTZ apology not enough. NunatsiaqOnline.ca (Dec. 2015).

Fairs, Stephan. Can a Tribe Sue for Copyright? The Maasai Want Royalties for Use of Their Name. Bloomberg Businessweek (Oct. 2013).

Keene, Adrienne. New York Fashion Week Designer steals from Northern Cheyenne/Crow artist Bethany Yellowtail.  NativeAppropriations.com (Feb. 2015).

Milligan, Lauren. Mexican Media Storm Erupts Over Marant “Copying.” Vogue UK (Nov. 2015).

Off, Carol and Jeff Douglas. Nunavut family outraged after fashion label copies sacred Inuit design. CBC Radio (Nov. 2015).

Rodriguez-Jimenez, Jorge. French Fashion Designer Gets Called Out for Copying Indigenous Oaxacan Clothing Design. WeAreMitu.com (Nov. 2015).

Varagur, Krithika. Is This The Right Way For Fashion To Do Cultural Appropriation? Huffington Post Style (Nov. 2015).

Zerbo, Julia. Navajo Nation Victorious in Latest Round Against Urban Outfitters. TheFashionLaw.com (April 2016).