Tag Archive: intellectual property

The latest issue of Current Anthropology features a suggestive article by Jenny Reardon and Kim TallBear that calls for a change in scientific education in order to enable different interactions between indigenous people and scientists. Abstract: During the nineteenth century, the American School of Anthropology enfolded Native peoples into their histories, claiming knowledge about and artifacts of these cultures as their rightful inheritance and property. Drawing both on the Genographic Project and the recent struggles between Arizona State University and the Havasupai Tribe over the use of Havasupai DNA, in this essay we describe how similar enfoldments continue today—despite most contemporary human scientists’ explicit rejection of hierarchical ideas of race. We seek to bring greater clarity and visibility to these constitutive links between whiteness, property, and the human sciences in order that the fields of biological anthropology and population genetics might work to move toward their stated commitments to antiracism (a goal, we argue, that the fields’ antiracialism impedes). Specifically, we reflect on how these links can inform extralegal strategies to address tensions between U.S. and other indigenous peoples and genome scientists and their facilitators (ethicists, lawyers, and policy makers). We conclude by suggesting changes to scientific education and professional standards that might improve relations between indigenous peoples and those who study them, and we introduce mechanisms for networking between indigenous peoples, scholars, and policy makers concerned with expanding indigenous governance of science and technology.

Download below to read the full article:

(2012). “ ‘Your DNA is our history’ Genomics, Anthropology, and the Construction of Whiteness as Property”. Current Anthropology 53(Supplement 5): S233-S245.

Dr. Debrah Harry (IPCB) will be teaching a class this summer (July 11-September 12) at UCLA on the protection of cultural property:

 “Indigenous cultural property of all forms, tangible and intangible, oral and written, ancient and contemporary, is under constant threat from exploitation, theft, misrepresentation, misuse, and commodification. Genetic material and Indigenous knowledge are significant aspects of cultural property that require special protection, especially in this biotechnology age. This course addresses ways in which tribes can and should protect their cultural property, whether it be songs, artifacts, sacred sites, remains of the ancestors, traditional medicines, Indigenous knowledge about such medicines, or human and non-human genetic material. The main objective of this course is to provide guidance to tribes faced with the unique problems posed by biotechnology.” For more information please consult the UCLA Extension webpage.

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