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Book Bag


Edited by Laetitia La Follette

University of Massachusetts Press


This collection of essays, exploring issues of cultural heritage and intellectual property, is very much a University of Massachusetts Amherst affair. Published by UMass Press, it is also edited by Laetitia La Follette, an associate professor of art history at the school, and most of the essays are written by UMass professors and researchers.

The premise behind “Negotiating Culture” is that rival claims for cultural heritage are becoming a frequent topic in today’s world. From physical items like Native American remains, Greek and Roman antiquities, and artwork looted by the Nazis, to more intellectual issues such as language and access to digital materials, ethnic groups, countries, museums and even academic disciplines like anthropology are struggling over a basic question: Who owns what?

The essays examine incidents that have garnered media attention, such as the indictment in 2005 by the Italian government of a former U.S. museum curator, Marion True, for trafficking in stolen antiquities. That case, which also resulted in a suit against True by the Greek government on similar charges, prompted numerous U.S. museums to return disputed objects to Italy as well as a general reassessment of museum procedures and ethics.

La Follette notes that the growing debate over cultural heritage and property rights is influencing academic fields as diverse as economics, history and linguistics, while also spurring development of college courses and master’s degree programs devoted to the subject. Yet there’s not much cross-discipline discussion of the issue, she writes, and media coverage tends to focus on conflict rather than potential resolutions.

“Negotiating Culture,” she says, strives to present “a series of new models for thinking about the ownership of culture and cultural property, models predicated on dialogue, negotiation, and collaboration. ... The aim of this book is to offer a broader and deeper approach, allowing the reader ... the chance to pursue the issue of owning culture in a variety of contexts.”


By Bill Corbett

Cooperative Kids Publishing


Former Valley resident Bill Corbett, a professional speaker now living in Enfield, Conn., says that when he was trying to get his speaking career off the ground, a relative came up to him at a family gathering and said, “Don’t be such a dreamer ... speaking won’t pay the bills.”

But in “From the Soapbox to the Stage,” Corbett, a 1976 graduate of Smith Academy in Hatfield, writes that he made his dream a reality — and that you can, too. His book is a nuts-and-bolts primer for becoming a professional speaker, from learning how to get an audience’s attention and developing business, to getting your material online and finding new topics to present.

Corbett often speaks to parenting groups and teachers about raising responsible children, and he gives motivational speeches and leads workshops as well. What’s needed for any speaking career, he adds, is tenacity and a belief in yourself.

Moreover, developing a speaking career is a shift “that can easily be started while maintaining full-time employment,” he writes, and that doing so “avoids freaking out your spouse and putting your marriage in peril.”

In addition to his speaking and writing — including a syndicated column — Corbett is the creator and host of the TV program “Creating Cooperative Kids,” a talk show featuring parenting instructions and interviews with professionals who help adults develop non-punitive means for raising responsible children. The show airs on public access stations throughout the region, including in Amherst, Easthampton and Northampton.

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