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September 28 Thursday

Curation, Music and Law, Olufunmilayo Arewa, University of California, Irvine School of Law

  • Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 12:05PM - 1:30PM
  • HGS 119
  • Open To The YLS Community Only
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One hundred years ago in early 1917, the Original Dixieland Jazz Band released the first widely disseminated jazz recording. This recording included the song “Livery Stable Blues,” which quickly became the subject of copyright infringement litigation in the case Hart v. Graham. This case ended in a court decision that soon became virtually invisible, at least in the legal universe. This legal case highlights the impact of curation, long recognized in artistic spheres but generally not acknowledged as such in law. Discussions of curation are typically associated with dialogue in artistic arenas. However, pulling together, sifting through and selecting materials for presentation and representation evident in curation of art and music are pervasive in law. Law is represented, displayed, exhibited, and performed in varied contexts, many of which reflect curatorial activities. Acts of selection and representation may in turn reveal conscious and unconscious assumptions and biases. The shaping of black music as a category owes much to curation by varied actors in different locations at varied points in time. Consequently, what is thought to constitute black music is closely related to societal conceptions and individual understandings of what African American culture should be. The body of works that came to be categorized as black music constitutes a malleable category that has changed and that will continue to change with time, place, and circumstance. This paper assesses implications of curation for African American music and legal and other contexts within which such music has been created, circulated, and consumed.

Bio: Olufunmilayo B. Arewa is Professor of Law and Anthropology (by courtesy) at the University of California, Irvine School of Law. She received an M.A. and Ph.D. (Anthropology) from the University of California, Berkeley, an A.M. (Applied Economics) from the University of Michigan, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an A.B. from Harvard College. Her major areas of scholarly research include music, copyright, film, business, technology, and Africana studies. Prior to becoming a law professor, she practiced law for nearly a decade, working in legal and business positions in the entrepreneurial and technology startup arena, including law firms and companies in the Silicon Valley and New York. She also served as Chief Financial Officer and General Counsel of a venture capital firm in Boston. Before becoming a lawyer, she was a Visiting Lecturer at the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies (CAAS) at the University of Michigan and served as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. and Montevideo, Uruguay. In 2015 she received a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Faculty Visit Research Grant for a research project on the diffusion of jazz music in Germany in connection with a book she is writing entitled Creating Global Markets for Black Culture: Curation, Music, and Law. She has served as Vice Chair of the Nigeria Copyright Expert Working Group, a consultant for the World Bank Institute and the Nelson Mandela Institution on projects relating to education and scientific and technological capacity in Africa, and a lead consultant for a project examining the feasibility of establishing a venture capital fund in the Eastern Caribbean. Professor Arewa is a trained classical singer and has studied classical voice for many years.


Sponsoring Organization(s)

ISP, Payson Wolff