China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

(33) Chinese Practices of Intellectual Property

3/22/2018
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Washington Room 6, Exhibit Level

The rampant imitation, counterfeiting, and falsification of goods in contemporary China have led to vehement debates over understandings of intellectual property. On the one hand, China has been condemned for failing to guarantee the protections like Western copyright law has done; on the other hand, Chinese culture has been excused for privileging tradition over creativity and communal possession over individual rights. While these two positions appear to be at odds, they proceed from the same assumption: that China did not have an indigenous concept of intellectual property before the arrival of modern international law from the West at the beginning of the twentieth century. Challenging this predominant view, this panel explores concepts and practices related to intellectual property that have emerged along with the rapid expansion of the market from the sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Integrating textual, visual, and material evidence, the panelists explore the formation of trademarks and copyrights, examining how these practices were mediated through inscriptions, portraits of the publisher, silk loom-marks, and seals and stamps. As a starting point to discuss hitherto unexplored Chinese practices of intellectual property, this panel aims to move beyond merely adding non-Western materials. It will also shed light on the historical contingencies behind the development of modern intellectual property by reexamining far-reaching contests over originality and authenticity, authorship and craft, and the shifting values assigned to words and things in pre-twentieth century China.

Presentations:

Suyoung Son

Cornell University, New York

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Eugenia Lean

Columbia University, New York

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Thomas Kelly

University of Michigan, Michigan

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Suyoung Son

Cornell University, New York

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Rachel Silberstein

University of Washington, Washington

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Fei-Hsien Wang

Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana

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Eugenia Lean

Columbia University, New York

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