Conference of the International Society for the Oral Literature of Africa (ISOLA)
Mombasa, Kenya, 15-20 July 2010
Call for Papers on the Topic:
Indigenous Knowledges and Intellectual Property Rights in the Age of Globalization
In this era of globalization, issues on the importance of utilizing and safeguarding indigenous
knowledges elicit great concern. ISOLA identifies with the initiative of UNESCO towards the
preservation of the world’s intangible heritage. For UNESCO (Convention for the Safeguarding of the
Intangible Cultural Heritage, 2003), the intangible cultural heritage is manifested in: oral traditions
and expressions; the performing arts; social practices, rituals and festivals; knowledge and practices
concerning nature and the universe; and traditional craftsmanship.
Studies reveal that while many world citizens are conscious of having stakes in the safeguarding of
national and universal forms of the intangible heritage, accumulated and polished by the knowledge,
work, creativity and experience of countless generations, indigenous knowledges are increasingly
pressured into extinction by certain forces of modernization.
Yet indigenous knowledges have sustained communities across the globe from time immemorial.
They are embedded in and practised through art, agriculture, architecture, cattle rearing,
environmental science, history, hunting, law, medicine, politics, religion, writing, as well numerous
other cultural and social arts and practices.
Oral literature has the vast advantage of transmitting many of these knowledges and practices in a
literary form, alongside other productions of a predominantly but rarely exclusively aesthetic
character, since such a worldview is contrary to the holistic nature of African culture. The 8