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Alternative Market Values? Interventions into Auctions in Aotearoa/New Zealand

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Title:Alternative Market Values? Interventions into Auctions in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Authors:Geismar, Haidy
Aotearoa / New Zealand
LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:2008
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Island Studies
Citation:Geismar, H. 2008. Alternative Market Values? Interventions into Auctions in Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Contemporary Pacific 20 (2): 291-327.
Abstract:This article discusses the auction market for certain kinds of taonga Mäori (Mäori
treasures or cultural property). The social, political, and economic tensions that
emerge from the national regulation of the auction market for Mäori artifacts
are framed by the complex political dynamic in Aotearoa / New Zealand of biculturalism:
a Treaty-based political contract between Mäori (indigenous people of
Aotearoa) and Päkehä (settlers in colonial New Zealand, primarily of European
descent), subject to continual negotiation. The antiquities market, which includes
Mäori artifacts, is carefully regulated by the government in keeping with (evershifting)
understandings of Crown sovereignty over national cultural heritage.
Interventions by Mäori activists and curators complicate this notion of sovereignty
and assert a primacy of indigenous title. I argue that these idiosyncratic
interventions, within the political context of biculturalism, alter the very form of
the market, undermining perceived dichotomies between taonga and commodity, indigenous and market values. Eventual auction results reflect a synthesis of
complex intercultural negotiation and opposition between activists, dealers, auctioneers,
and collectors. The case studies here raise important issues around the
relationship among value, social and political relations, and the form and substance
of the marketplace.
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 2008 - Volume 20, Number 2

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