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Fair Trade and Social JusticeGlobal Ethnographies$
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Sarah Lyon and Mark Moberg

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814796207

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814796207.001.0001

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Novica, Navajo Knock-Offs, and the ’Net

Novica, Navajo Knock-Offs, and the ’Net

A Critique of Fair Trade Marketing Practices

(p.258) 11 Novica, Navajo Knock-Offs, and the ’Net
Fair Trade and Social Justice

Kathy M’Closkey

NYU Press

This chapter explores how Novica, the fair trade artisan organization based in Los Angeles, supports the reproduction of historic Navajo designs by Zapotec weavers from Oaxaca, Mexico. In particular, it considers how such appropriation is compounded by gendered injustice as male Zapotec weavers copy historic designs originally created by generations of anonymous Navajo women. After providing a historical background on commodification, the chapter discusses Zapotec weaving and the contemporary economics of Navajo weaving. It then comments on Novica's support for Zapotec artisans who have appropriated “elements” of Navajo designs in their woven rugs and assesses the negative effects of such cultural appropriation on the ability of Navajo artisans to maintain their livelihoods and cultural traditions of weaving. It argues that Novica, in its desire to promote equitable returns to Zapotec weavers, has inadvertently contributed to the impoverishment of Navajo weavers.

Keywords:   fair trade, Navajo designs, Zapotec weavers, Mexico, Zapotec weaving, Navajo weaving, Novica, cultural appropriation

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