Laws of Extraction: From Intellectual Property to Global Cultural Justice

The Social Justice Institute
Critical Racial & Anti-Colonial Studies Research Network


a seminar with
Dr. Boatema Boateng

Associate Professor, Department of Communication, UC San Diego

“Laws of Extraction: From Intellectual Property to Global Cultural Justice

Thurs, March 29, 12-2pm
1099 Buchanan Tower
1873 East Mall, UBC


All events are free and open to the public. RSVP’s are not required to attend, only encouraged.

Intellectual property (IP) laws currently operate with regard to the knowledge and culture of Indigenous Peoples and the global South as colonization did in earlier periods of world history. They do so by denying to such knowledge and culture the status of art and science – forms of knowledge and culture that are routinely protected under copyright and patent laws. In denying protection, IP laws function as licenses to exploit that knowledge and culture; that is, as laws of extraction. Although the knowledge and culture of both Indigenous Peoples and people of the global South are similarly located in IP laws, that similarity does not extend to their status as members of the international community and international institutions within which some of the most important struggles around culture and knowledge are being waged. Those differences in geopolitical location are paralleled by the compartmentalization of study by and about the two groups, as evidenced by separate spheres of scholarship like Indigenous Studies, Area Studies and Postcolonial Studies. Against this background, this lecture calls for a conceptual and political bridging of the distance between Indigenous Peoples and communities in the global South in their struggles against laws of extraction and toward global cultural justice.

Dr. Boateng’s research interests include Critical Legal Studies, Critical Race Studies, Cultural Studies, Transnational Gender Studies, and African Diaspora Studies. Her research projects focus on the regulatory dimensions of knowledge and its production, as embedded in legal (and other) regimes and in cultural objects and practices. In her book, The Copyright Thing Doesn’t Work Here: Adinkra and Kente Cloth and Intellectual Property in Ghana, she examines the ways that intellectual property law converges with histories of subjugation along lines of nation, gender and race to produce and regulate both subjects and knowledge.