We use cookies on this site. By browsing our site you agree to our use of cookies. Close this message Find out more

Home > Bolivia Music IP > English Home > The Workshop - Coroico 2012 > What to do? Bolivia and the World
More in this section The Workshop - Coroico 2012

What to do? Bolivia and the World

The final conversations in Coroico concerned the future. What should Bolivia do about these issues going forward?

Introduction: Paradoxes in cultural policies


To orient the conversation, the organizers pointed out a discrepancy in policy between different fields of culture. To explore this point, they posed the question: what is the difference or the link between knowledge of the potato seed and the musical knowledge that accompanies potato cultivation? Participants said that these two types of knowledge went hand in hand. The organizers then mentioned that the Bolivian state seems to take very different positions in relation to these two kinds of knowledge. Within the administration’s discourse of living well,” and through the new political constitution that defends food sovereignty and food security, the government of Evo Morales has assumed an oppositional stance to an article of the TRIPS Agreement (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property) that structures the patenting of biological materials such as seeds.

The government position is that those who work the land should be allowed to manage their own knowledge about the selection and exchange of seeds, without the intervention of private companies such as Monsanto, an entity that holds patents on specific varieties of seeds. In this field, Bolivia is saying to the world that some things do not fit within any framework of intellectual property.

Llallawa, specially selected potatoes that resemble human form (ayllu Macha) - Photo credit: Henry Stobart


Charango close-up

However, in the field of “culture” and “folklore,” the Bolivian state has taken a different position, one that fits well with the systems of intellectual property and cultural heritage as established by industrialized countries. These systems tend to enclose and overprotect cultural expressions, using the force of the law, the backing of the state, and institutions such as UNESCO and WIPO.  Yet, as had become apparent during the workshop, many problems about these policies remain unsolved (such as issues of collective creativity, the extension of copyright terms to the degree that almost nothing makes it to the public domain, the concerns of indigenous peoples that their secret and sacred materials not enter the public domain, etc.). Since Bolivia is living a “process of change,” and since the country has significant indigenous populations, it could occupy a unique position in the global search for creative alternatives to the conundrums posed at the junctures of indigenous peoples and different kinds of knowledge.

Up to this point in the workshop, participants had worked in mixed groups for the various activities. The organizers thought participants should engage with people who held very different perspectives from their own, and in many cases participants worked with other Bolivians whose only point in common might be a shared official country of citizenship. The objective was not to reach a consensus among the various perspectives, but rather to facilitate awareness of other peoples’ perspectives, even if they were ones with which some participants disagreed. With the third topic, some workshop members criticized these rather heterogeneous working groups, and proposed groups based on affinity, in order to move forward with others who shared similar ideas. 

The organizers acknowledged the importance of both ways of working, and for the final activity in Coroico, it was agreed that participants would work in affinity groups. Each group worked with the same questions in self-selected groups. Although the resulting four working groups cannot be easily categorized, some organized around regional origin; another formed around a common interest in the transition of the state, and yet another formed around a common search for alternatives to existing institutional structures.

Decorated body of Kitarra (ayllu Macha, Northern Potosí). Its sound is said to promote crop growth. Photo credit: Henry Stobart     


Richard and Arturo

a.     Do you believe that the current intellectual property policies (e.g. Heritage Registration, SOBODAYCOM, SENAPI, WIPO) satisfy the social and cultural needs of your social environment? Why?

b.     Do you think that these same policies satisfy the social and cultural needs of Bolivia? Why?

c.     What new alternatives might improve the situation with regards to cultural politics? To answer, please take into consideration:

  • the search for a system that is fairer for everybody,
  • the value of creativity,
  • the recognition of creative work, both individual and collective,
  • the importance of creativity to the reproduction of social relations,
  • consideration of points of view that may be distinct, and, 
  • free access to knowledge.

Proposals may involve either legal structures or schemes outside the legal sphere (e.g. protocols). You are encouraged not only to think in terms of Bolivia, but also in what might be proposed worldwide.

Each group presented their proposals during the plenary session, and from these presentations, a document was drafted and then polished. It includes conclusions, proposals, and questions for the experts, who would be present for the Round Table in La Paz.

Richard Mújica and Arturo Molina - Photo credit: Phoebe Smolin

Creative Commons Licence
Rethinking Creativity, Recognition and Indigenous Heritage by https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/boliviamusicip/home.aspx is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/boliviamusicip/home.aspx


Comment on this page

Did you find the information you were looking for? Is there a broken link or content that needs updating? Let us know so we can improve the page.

Note: If you need further information or have a question that cannot be satisfied by this page, please call our switchboard on +44 (0)1784 434455.

This window will close when you submit your comment.

Add Your Feedback