CIRCA:Ethics Codes and Charters (excerpts)


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  • Raphael Capurro and Intercultural Ethics
“one main task of intercultural ethics is to foster cultural identities not through their isolation or mere addition or even collision but through a process of communication being held more and more on the basis of the digital “infosphere.”” (11)
- Consider the digital divide.
- Consider the necessary conditions for dialogue (Geoffrey).
Does digitization reproduce inequalities?
“The digital globalisation not only reinforces and expands upon the divide between the digital haves and have-nots but also makes more explicit and even deepens existing inequalities” (Warschauer 2002) – quoted in Capurro on page 12.
“Intercultural information ethics matters not only in order to overcome the isolation of moral traditions with regard to the Internet but also in order to provide a platform for pragmatic action, for the kind of declarations and (quasi-) legal agreements that can be used as a framework for preservation and fostering of cultural differences in the new digital environment. It is still an open question how far these activities could and should be coordinated by an international agency or by one of the existing UN bodies or by some other kind of institution” (18).
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
Article 19: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (pg. 15 in Capurro)
- What about the freedom to express non-expression? Sacred indigenous burial rights and ceremonies, for example.
- “hovering around the idea of equality” (Keavy)
- Right to publishing—where does it come from? What about academic responsibility and integrity? Where did the language of “[academic] rights” come in?
- Negative (no one can stop you from doing it but they can sue you after) and positive rights (right to shelter; society has to take some initiative to ensure these rights are met (Geoffrey))
  • World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS 2003)
1. We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva from 10-12 December 2003 for the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
3. We reaffirm the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, as enshrined in the Vienna Declaration. We also reaffirm that democracy, sustainable development, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as good governance at all levels are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. We further resolve to strengthen respect for the rule of law in international as in national affairs.
- Enlightenment philosophy
- Otherness of the “other”
- Should some things remain incommensurable?
15. In the evolution of the Information Society, particular attention must be given to the special situation of indigenous peoples, as well as to the preservation of their heritage and their cultural legacy.
42. Intellectual Property protection is important to encourage innovation and creativity in the Information Society; similarly, the wide dissemination, diffusion, and sharing of knowledge is important to encourage innovation and creativity. Facilitating meaningful participation by all in intellectual property issues and knowledge sharing through full awareness and capacity building is a fundamental part of an inclusive Information Society.
- Recall Alina Ng’s article: “When Users are Authors: Authorship in the Age of Digital Media” which presents the argument that digital media enables greater creativity; Ng celebrates the “remix culture”.
  • World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS 2004)
52. Cultural diversity is the common heritage of humankind. The Information Society should be founded on and stimulate respect for cultural identity, cultural and linguistic diversity, traditions and religions, and foster dialogue among cultures and civilizations. The promotion, affirmation and preservation of diverse cultural identities and languages as reflected in relevant agreed United Nations documents including UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, will further enrich the Information Society.
- Consider the notion of global inheritance.
54. The preservation of cultural heritage is a crucial component of identity and self- understanding of individuals that links a community to its past. The Information Society should harness and preserve cultural heritage for the future by all appropriate methods, including digitisation.
  • Charter of Civil Rights for a Sustainable Knowledge Society (2003)
1. Knowledge is the heritage and the property of humanity and is thus free. Knowledge represents the reservoir from which new knowledge is created. Knowledge must therefore remain permanently accessible to the public. Limitations on public access such as copyrights and patents must be the exception. Commercial exploitation of knowledge conflicts with the interest of society in knowledge as a public good. Knowledge as a common good must have a higher status in the hierarchy of social values than the protection of private claims.
- Intermediate communities are not included (families, neighborhoods, churches, etc)? It’s set up as the individual vs. the global.
- Every social organization is a compromise (Geoffrey)?
- public good vs. private good (does the individual have a certain number of rights that belong to them no matter how much it would benefit the public good—human rights enters in) – what the king wants, what God wants vs. what the individual wants – the nation-state (Weber?) and the use of force for the common good?
9. The right to privacy is a human right and is essential for free and self-determined human development in the knowledge society.
  • A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace (John Perry Barlow 1996)
- Response to the Communications Decency Act (1996) which sought to regulate (pornographic) content on the internet.
“I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you [Governments of the Industrial World] seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.”
- Failed argument that the internet will bypass censorship (consider China).
- Interesting idea of (dis)embodiment:
“Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.”
“Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.”
- Turner and the new American frontier – how you organize on the frontier is different from how you organize within the mainland (no-man’s land where anything goes) – strong libertarian philosophy around the internet: no rules and (governments and/or legislative bodies) stay away! (Geoffrey)
  • Ethics of Electronic Information in the Twenty-First Century (EEI21 2004) symposium:
ultimate goal of creating equitable and ethically responsible society in the twenty-first century”
- Suggests an evolution of humanity or society: more ethical and equitable than in past centuries


  • United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007)
Article 13
1.Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.
Article 31
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures […] They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.
2. In conjunction with indigenous peoples, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights
  • Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA 1990)
Section 3 (c) The intentional removal from or excavation of Native American cultural items from Federal or tribal lands for purposes of discovery, study, or removal of such items is permitted only if—
  1. Such items are excavated or removed pursuant to a permit issued under section 4 of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, as amended, [16 U.S.C.470cc] which shall be consistent with this Act;
  2. Such items are excavated or removed after consultation with or, in the case of tribal lands, consent of the appropriate (if any) Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization;
  3. The ownership and right of control of the disposition of such items shall be as provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section; and
  4. Proof of consultation or consent under paragraph (2) is shown.
Section 7 (a)
(1) If, pursuant to section 5 of this Act [25 U.S.C. 3003], the
cultural affiliation of Native American human remains and
associated funerary objects with a particular Indian tribe or
Native Hawaiian organization is established, then the Federal
agency or museum, upon the request of a known lineal descendant
of the Native American or of the tribe or organization
and pursuant to subsections (b) and (e) of this section, shall
expeditiously return such remains and associated funerary
(2) If, pursuant to section 6 of this Act [25 U.S.C. 3004],
the cultural affiliation with a particular Indian tribe or
Native Hawaiian organization is shown with respect to
unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects or objects of
cultural patrimony, then the Federal agency or museum,
upon the request of the Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian
organization and pursuant to subsections (b), (c) and (e) of
this section, shall expeditiously return such objects.
(3) The return of cultural items covered by this Act shall
be in consultation with the requesting lineal descendant or
tribe or organization to determine the place and manner of
delivery of such items.
- Consider the G’psgolox Pole documentaries.
  • The difficulty with ethics – Murray L. Wax’s "The Ethics of Research in American Indian Communities" (notes provided by Geoffrey)
- Incommensurable Ethics. We have to be open to the possibility that our ethical views are incommensurable.
- Consent from whom - the issue of individual consent or community consent. Researchers may get individual consent to publish materials that the community believes is community property.
- Sacred Knowledge - "A more delicate and difficult issue is the potential for harm consequent upon projects that focus upon sacred rituals (myths, ceremonies, esoteric objects, and knowledge)." p. 451.
- Covenantal Ethics - Wax discusses the importance of a covenant ethic over universal ethics. These are like marriage vows and are tailored to the situation.
"Discussing the ethical evaluation of ethnographic field research, William F. May (1975, 1980) has argued for the pertinence of a covenantal ethic between the two parties, rather than the utilitarian and Kantian ethics that tend to pre- dominate in the professional literature of philosophers" (453).
  • American Anthropological Association (AAA) Code of Ethics (1997)
Section A: Responsibility to people and animals – supersedes the goal of new knowledge
- Avoid harm or wrong
- Respect well-being
- Long-term conservation
- Active consultation
- Must distinguish prior to conducting research whether their research subjects request recognition or anonymity (must also communicate the impacts of these choices and the leakages involved with anonymity, cannot guarantee it)
- Informed consent (situational and thus, complex) – a 'dynamic and continuous processquality of consent is more important than the format.
Section B: Responsibility to Scholarship and Science
- Exercise foresight concerning potential ethical dilemmas in the proposal and planning stages of each project
- Bear the responsibility and integrity and reputation of their discipline, as a whole
- Preserve opportunities for future researchers/scholarship and ensure the preservation of fieldwork data
- Utilize results appropriately (meaning, how exactly?)and disseminate findings to scientific/scholarly community whenever possible
Section C: Responsibility to the Public
- Ensure appropriate access to these groups: sponsors, students (preclude discrimination, improve teaching techniques, encourage dialogue about ethical issues, consider and acknowledge assistance), decision makers, and other nonanthropologists. (responsible for factual content and the social and political implications, empirical methodology, acknowledge limits and biases)
- May move towards a position of advocacy (individual choice, not an ethical responsibility)
  • UNESCO Conference Report (2003) – Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Property
Debate 5: Article 2 – Definitions
For the purposes of this Convention,
1. The “intangible cultural heritage” means the practices, representations, expressions,knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity. For the purposes of this Convention, consideration will be given solely to such intangible cultural heritage as is compatible with existing international human rights instruments, with the requirement of mutual respect among communities, groups and individuals, and with sustainable development.
2. The “intangible cultural heritage”, as defined in paragraph 1 above, is manifested inter alia in the following domains:
(a) oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage;
(b) the performing arts;
(c) social practices, rituals and festive events;
(d) knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe;
(e) traditional craftsmanship.
3. “Safeguarding” means measures aimed at ensuring the viability of the intangible cultural heritage, including the identification, documentation, research, preservation, protection, promotion, enhancement, transmission, particularly through formal and non-formal education, as well as the revitalization of the various aspects of such heritage.
Article 13 – Other measures for safeguarding
(d) adopt appropriate legal, technical, administrative and financial measures aimed at:
(i) fostering the creation or strengthening of institutions for training in the
management of the intangible cultural heritage and the transmission of such
heritage through forums and spaces intended for the performance or expression
(ii) providing access to the intangible cultural heritage while respecting customary
practices governing access to specific aspects of such heritage;
(iii) establishing documentation institutions for the intangible cultural heritage and
facilitating access to them.
Article 17 – List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding (Safeguarding on an international scale)
1. With a view to taking appropriate safeguarding measures, the Committee shall establish, keep up to date and publish a List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and shall inscribe such heritage on the List at the request of the State Party concerned.
- Group meeting in 2006 of "nineteen Native American and non-Native American archivists, librarians, museum curators, historians, and anthropologists gathered at Northern Arizona University Cline Library in Flagstaff, Arizona."
- Emphasis placed on the sovereignty of Native American communities.
-Prevalent "Human rights themes"
Related policy and legal topics included:
  • the importance of consultation with and concurrence of tribal communities in decisions and policies
  • the need to recognize and provide special treatment for culturally sensitive materials
  • rethinking public accessibility and use of some materials
  • the role of intellectual and cultural property rights
  • the need to consider copying, sharing, and/or repatriation of certain materials
  • the recognition of community-based research protocols and contracts
  • reciprocal education and training
  • raising awareness of these issues within the profession”
- Mission statement: “The proposed standards and goals articulated in Protocols for Native American Archival Materials are meant to inspire and to foster mutual respect and reciprocity.”
- Distinction of "primary rights” of Native American communities, including “issues of collection, preservation, access, and use of or restrictions to these materials.”
- Dialogue is once again presented as the golden methodology.
- Pertinent quote from Kim Lawson of the Heiltsuk Nation: We’re not looking at an issue paper by paper or record group by record group. It’s a whole system of a way of life. Our knowledge systems don’t make sense without spirituality. We are asking for respect for a system of knowledge."
- "Privacy rights extend to groups in some situations."
- Mentions the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act(NAGPRA)
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