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Negotiating intellectual property rights in the Upper Amazon

Ituarte-Lima, C.B.; (2011) Negotiating intellectual property rights in the Upper Amazon. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis examines Amazonian people’s negotiation of bio-cultural rights, and explores the nexus between people in the field and stakeholders at different national and international levels. It draws primarily on one year of fieldwork conducted in the Upper Amazon; I also build on my experience as a lawyer working on environmental and people’s rights in Mexico. Anthropological and legal approaches to property rights and biotechnology, as well as local and global systems of power and political life inform the analysis. Amazonian people’s positions regarding IPR and bioprospecting are dynamic rather than fixed. They respond more to historical processes including alliances and fragmentation between groups than to definite ideological positions such as do IPR advocates or sceptics. Distinct groups co-exist with different levels of acceptance. Amazonian leaders tend to regard “community” as an external imposition with a colonial origin, in contrast to pueblo (people) considered a more legitimate term. Yet, in practical terms, community remains a relevant social unit appropriated by people in the rainforest. Another finding is the central role that indigenous NGOs based in urban areas play as gatekeepers of Amazonian bio-cultural resources. This thesis challenges certain academic and popular assumptions concerning indigenous people’s IPR. It reveals that the tensions between differentiated forms of intellectual property lie relatively less in the incommensurability between individual (Western) and collective (indigenous) and more in the types of individual and collectives (e.g. corporation) that can become IPR holders. Critical events at the mesolevel trigger the reinterpretation of old categories, and the emergence of sui generis IPR. Conflictive situations can be sources of socio-legal innovation eliciting new ways of thinking about the negotiation of IPR between local, national and international levels.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Negotiating intellectual property rights in the Upper Amazon
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Anthropology

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