AN ONGOING PROBLEM for the anthropology of cultural and intellectual property
is how to define and discuss indigenous models of ownership, entitlement, and law given
that the frames of property, rights, and law are themselves colonial constructs. Within this
closed circuit, the indigenous mobilization of identity and difference as asset and resource
has been read as a strategy of resistance (Miller 1995), of nation building (Li 2010), and
as a resource in itself (Coombe 2005: 52).1 In turn, neoliberal policies of governance and
economy have been shown, sinisterly, to play a role in constituting these very cultural
identities and differences (Harvey 2005; Comaroff and Comaroff 2009; Hirsch 2010).
We may even understand anthropological discourses of incommensurability (A. Henare
2007) or radical cultural essentialism to emerge “in the shadow of the liberal diaspora”
(Povinelli 2001: 320; Rata 2003; van Meijl 2009a).
In this book, I have aimed to cut a different pathway through these debates. I
have presented a sustained argument that we need to understand the intersections of
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