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date: 02 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the principles governing the ownership and circulation of music in Melanesia. It demonstrates how musical practice is part of what connects people in kin-based, local, and regional systems of reciprocity, recognition, and social reproduction. The article outlines the principles that underlie these systems and shows how they are often starkly at odds with assumptions about value and transaction in capitalist, commodity-focused economies. The contrast is epitomized in the differences between connections forged under Melanesian political economy and those in western intellectual property law, specifically copyright. The article makes the case for understanding the value of contemporary as well as traditional forms of music in this frame, focusing on relationality and obligation in both rural and urban contexts.

Keywords: Melanesia, music, value, circulation, kinship, reciprocity, social reproduction, intellectual property, copyright, ethnomusicology

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