Ministry of Culture initiative defends indigenous views against plagiarism

The Ministry of Culture announced on Monday an initiative to strengthen its protection of indigenous artisans against plagiarism.

Called the Original, the initiative’s first event will provide a forum for around 3,000 national and international artisans and companies to exhibit and potentially market their work and traditional designs by building business relationships.

A fashion show will allow native models to exhibit the creations of master craftsmen.

The event, scheduled for November 18-21 at the Los Pinos Cultural Center in Mexico City, will also feature lectures and debates on topics such as cultural appropriation, collective rights and the preservation of cultural heritage. Commercial spaces will remain in the center until December 12.

International fashion houses have a controversial history in Mexico. The federal government and other authorities have accused them of plagiarizing indigenous views and “inappropriate cultural appropriation” in recent years. Among the designers involved are Zara, Anthropologie, Patowl, Zimmerman, Isabel Marant, Carolina Herrera, Mango and Pippa Holt.

Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto Guerrero, who announced the initiative, said it was important that there was direct contact between artisans and businesses. “You can speak to the world head-on… as creators of Mexico or their communities; or as designers to these creators… not with romanticism, not with paternalism. But with respect, with ethics and with the possibility of mutual creation, ”she said.

Craftsman Teresa Lino said the initiative helps her feel proud of her indigenous identity. “This is a great opportunity to showcase the work we do… now I’m proud; I am an indigenous woman who fights to maintain my cultural identity and I am not ashamed, ”she said.

Craftsman Ignacio Netzahualcóyotl considered the announcement to be of historical significance. “Textiles, crafts, everything that comes from indigenous peoples is the art that we learned as children, from our ancestors. Today is a truly unique historical event, where indigenous peoples are embraced, where we no longer feel less, ”he said.

Cultural promoter Luz Valdez said she was optimistic the initiative would change the position of artisans. “This project was like a ray of light for everyone. I’ve always said that someday we’ll all go to spaces where we’ve been told we can’t, and I think that’s the start of that, ”she said.

The Ministry of Culture also announced that it would propose a legal instrument to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to better protect the designs of indigenous communities.

Mexico Daily News

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