Roy W. Hamilton has been Curator of Asian and Pacific Collections at the Fowler Museum at UCLA since 1994. His first exhibition, Gift of the Cotton Maiden: Textiles of Flores and the Solor Islands was on view when TSA convened for its fourth biennial symposium at UCLA that year. His book Material Choices: Refashioning Bast and Leaf Fibers in Asia and the Pacific, co-edited with B. Lynne Milgram, won TSA’s R. L. Shep Award for the best ethnographic textile book of 2007. Other exhibitions, each accompanied by a book, have gone on national tour, including From the Rainbow’s Varied Hue: Textiles of the Southern Philippines (1998) and Weavers’ Stories from Island Southeast Asia (2012). His current project, Textiles of Timor, Island in the Woven Sea, co-curated with Joanna Barrkman, will open when TSA meets again in Los Angeles in 2014.
Roy is chairing the LACMA plenary session Indigenous Systems of Knowledge: Identity and Intellectual Property featuring Gary Urton, Bonnie Benally Yazzie, Boatema Boteng.
Session Summary: Wherever weaving and other textile arts are found in indigenous societies, they have likely become embedded as profoundly integrated components of complex religious, social, and economic systems. In this manner people construct meaning for their textile arts, using them to define their very identity—their inherited ancestral knowledge and their ways of being. Whether ancient or post-colonial, fragile or robust, such systems of knowledge and identity are always subject to change. The contemporary era of globalization has brought diverse cultures into ever closer contact and issues of identity have only become more hotly contested, as witnessed by several recent high-profile cases regarding intellectual property rights and cultural identity in the field of textile/fashion design. This session will examine these issues from diverse perspectives. Gary Urton explores the development of such an integrated system of knowledge in the ancient Andes and examines how it changed over time. Bonnie Benally Yazzie presents her experience of Diné (Navajo) weaving as the teachings of her grandmothers and ultimately of the sacred Spider Woman. Supported by this sacred pedigree, Diné weaving has transformed continually and dramatically over the course of the last 150 years and today it faces new challenges that Yazzie will explain from the point of view of a traditional weaver. Finally, Boatema Boteng moves our discussion to West Africa, where adinkra and kente cloth once denoted Asante royal power. Today the Ghanaian people and government are struggling to define and maintain intellectual property rights with regard to these forms, which have become increasingly popular international symbols.