Joyce Nicole Bennett
Grant TypeEngaged Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationConnecticut College
Grant numberGr. ERG-3
Approve DateFebruary 4, 2022
Project TitleBennett, Joyce (Connecticut College) "Our Clothing, Our Designs: Maya Women and Intellectual Property Rights"
Our Clothing, Our Designs: Maya Women and Intellectual Property Rights questions how race, language, and legality intersect through Maya women’s use of intellectual property rights as they attempt to defend and protect the use of indigenous weaving designs. Putting collaboration theory into practice, this book project is co-authored with Kaqchikel scholar, Ixnal Ambosia Cuma Chávez. Maya women have passed down knowledge and techniques of back-strap weaving for millennia; recently, fashion designers from the developed world have attempted to claim intellectual property rights that include Maya women’s traditional designs and weaving patterns. Instead of allowing for the theft of their traditional knowledge, indigenous women in Guatemala have come together across ethnolinguistic groups to challenge fashion designers’ attempts through the legal system, basing their claims in intellectual property rights. This research project questions how the holistic and collaborative approach of Kaqchikel Maya women confronts the individualistic legal system as women seek to re-interpret intellectual property rights for community-wide benefits. The book project contributes to Maya women’s social justice initiatives by providing important contextual and background information, holistic analyses of the issues, and reference materials for their case.