Who does own the story?

Welch, Wendy. "Who Owns the Story?" Storytelling, Self, Society, 5:1-22, 2009.

Welch asks the big question (above) systematically, using both legal and ethnographic arguments. But she doesn't answer it, and ultimately what she provides is a broad exploration of the facets of the question and ways of answering. This is a strong candidate as a text for the storytelling course precisely because it presents a range of answers. At the same time, I admit to a sense of disappointment as a scholar: she touches on individual/personal ownership, cultural ownership, authenticity (and claims to authenticity), the idea of "respect" and its limits, and even sacred stories, but she doesn't ultimately get beyond a postmodern issues of representation. She tackles them in concrete, not critical theory, terms, and that's a big plus, but her conclusion about "thoughtful people of integrity on all sides of this issue" is just shy of relativism. I wished for more serious consideration of power, a la Foucault, rather than a well-researched and well-defined paper that ultimately walks the reader through a smorgasbord of opinions.

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