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From WIPO to Vale do Ribeira and Back

Gabriela Balvedi Pimentel

Chapter II: Theoretical discussions on indigeneity, indigenous knowledge and intellectual property

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1In this work, I am taking a step back from the rights discourse to analyze in more detail the discussion around indigenous knowledge and its protection, which is being framed in terms of intellectual property rights by both scholars and lawmakers. To fully understand how narratives around the meaning of these concepts are being constructed, I have argued that we should look at the very political issues at stake. This chapter will present and discuss the theoretical tools that inform an analysis through this lens. At the same time, it will situate the debate in which this work is located.

2The concepts of indigenous knowledge and intellectual property rights over indigenous knowledge are both intimately linked to the idea of indigeneity, since both concepts relate to indigenous peoples. Therefore, understanding the discussion around both of these concepts becomes much clearer in the light of the debate around indigeneity. The relational character of indigeneity, as well as the possibilities of enunciation and political articulation it enables, are key to understanding how the derived concept of indigenous knowledge is built and what it entails. Relationality and articulation are also key to understanding our next issue of analysis: intellectual property rights over indigenous knowledge.

3The issue of intellectual property rights over indigenous knowledge is studied in the literature through two lenses. A convergence approach argues for the extension of intellectual property “protection” to indigenous knowledge, in a discourse that evokes indigenous peoples’ right to a legal tool used globally to protect knowledge considered as “scientific and innovative” as well as “artistic productions”. In other words, this literature frames the issue in terms of the expansion of intellectual property rights as universal rights. On the other side, a conflictual approach highlights the dispossessions entailed by new property categories. Placing power relations in the center of the analysis, these authors argue that intellectual property is a means of promoting the commodification of knowledge. By extension, the key outcome of intellectual property rights over indigenous knowledge would not be the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, but in fact the legitimization of the possibilities of its expropriation.

4As it takes into consideration the dimension of power relations, a conflictual approach allows the analysis to address the political issues involved in the creation of the categories of this research, being more in line with the objectives of this study. Nevertheless, this approach is insufficient to explain how discussions around the same issues take place in such different spheres as WIPO’s IGC and Vale do Ribeira. How is it possible that such different spaces are concerned with similar discussions? What allows us to account for the (dis)connections between these places?

5The concept of friction, the “grip of worldly encounter” (Tsing 2011, 1) will allow us to understand the awkward interconnections that link these places. Tsing (2011) invites us to look at these strange encounters, because it is through varied and often conflicting social interactions that we can understand our globalized world. This lens gives us the tools to understand how our different fields are interconnected by the same discussion and finally influence one another.

1. Articulation and relationality: key elements for understanding indigeneity

6Despite being widely used, the terms indigenous and traditional carry a complex history. They are key terms for this work, because they are at the basis of both concepts we are looking at and, thus, the idea of indigeneity has implications in their construction. It is worthwhile to explore what indigeneity (and traditionality) means in order to better understand the context in which the concepts of this analysis emerge.

7The term indigenous was first coined in a colonial context, relying on the modern divide between “us” and “them” (Said 2003). Much has changed since then but still, there is no consensus around the meaning of indigenous, either in the anthropological literature or in policy and regulation-making fora. As Hodgson (2011, 37) divides it, there are two main approaches to the definition of indigenous in the literature: a “constructivist”, “structural” or “relational” definition and an “essential”, “substantial” or “positivist” one.

8The latter unites those who advocate that there is an essential element for defining indigenous peoples, which would depend on evidence of territorial precedence. This was, for example, the first inclination of the United Nations’ Working Group to the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, which tried to equate the meaning of “indigenous peoples” to that of “first peoples”. In other words, indigenous peoples were understood as “autochthone groups such as Native Americans, Aborigines, and Maori who could clearly demonstrate their territorial precedence prior to conquest and settler colonialism” (Hodgson 2011, 37). An “essential” approach was also deployed by Kuper. In his controversial article published in 2003, the author defended that indigenous peoples’ claims depart from the erroneous assumption that original inhabitants of a country have privileged rights to its resources. In his view, this might have dangerous political consequences for society overall, including for individual rights, because it would foster essentialist ideologies of culture and identity (Kuper 2003).

9The entry of African and Asian groups into the international debate challenged this view. Due to their specific colonial and migratory history, which permanently dislocated them, African and Asian groups’ history differs significantly from that of Native Americans and other groups. Alternatively, through a relational approach, they argued that they should be considered to be indigenous peoples because they shared a similar structural position to that occupied by the so-called “first peoples” in other continents (Hodgson 2011).

10This centrality of experiences as a defining factor for indigeneity is also defended by many scholars who adopt a relational approach (Bayart 1996; M.C. da Cunha 2009; Hodgson 2011; Lewis and Kenrick 2004; Li 1996, 2000, 2001, 2014; Pelican 2009). Lewis and Kenrick, for example, argue that not only the negative experiences of colonization, dispossession and discrimination but also the “positive resilience of the social, economic and religious practices” are central for the definition of “indigeneity” (2004, 7).

11In this sense, as happened to other categories (e.g. “tribal”, “native”, “aboriginal”), the term “indigenous” was appropriated by the communities designated by it. These communities converted a term charged with prejudice into one around which they mobilize and through which they carry out fights for their rights. The term “indigenous” started to be inhabited by real people, made of flesh and blood (M.C. da Cunha 2009, 278). As they entered the discussion, indigenous peoples were no longer the objects of a discussion about them, but the subjects of this conversation.

12The possibility to forge international alliances through participation in the international indigenous peoples’ movement is another key aspect for creating a privileged space to contest injustices that happen at the national level. As Hodgson (2011, 213) explains for the case of the Maasai, “becoming indigenous” was one of the few politically viable strategies available in a time of radical dislocation. It allowed them to gain visibility and access resources but also introduced a complex cultural politics of inclusion and exclusion. In this sense, some groups “may internationally qualify as indigenous peoples while locally being perceived as strangers or migrants” (Pelican 2009, 62). Being identified as indigenous had important implications for these indigenous groups, because it entitled them to seek remedy in the international arena against violations conducted by national states at the local level (Hodgson 2011; Bellier 2013).

13These “identity strategies” (Bayart 1996, 10) must be taken into consideration as important elements for the understanding of indigeneity not as an essentialist term, but as a relational category strongly linked to the specific experiences of particular groups. As Coombe demonstrated, “the vocabularies of political indigeneity” have now been extended to embrace a greater range of the world’s most marginalized peoples as they “enable traditions to serve as dynamic resources for imagining alternative futures” (2017, 391).

14This study considers indigeneity, as well as traditionality, as relational categories. In this sense, they are understood not as essential or natural categories that exist on their own, but as ideas that emerge in response to a specific context of colonialism and dispossession as well as of resilience. This does not mean, however, that they are simply invented or imposed. As Tania Li explains,

self-identification (…) is rather, a positioning which draws upon historically sedimented practices, landscapes and repertoires of meaning, and emerges through particular patterns of engagement and struggle. The conjunctures at which (some) people come to identify themselves as indigenous, realigning the ways they connect to the nation, the government, and their own, unique tribal place, are the contingent products of agency and the cultural and political work of articulation emphasis in the original. (2000, 151)

15Articulation, the concept highlighted in the passage above, is another key marker of the empirical and political dimensions of the concept of indigeneity. Li uses Stuart Hall’s (1996) concept of articulation as a framework to address these two dimensions. Articulation for Hall is at the same time a process of boundary-making and a process of connection. The concept “captures the duality of positioning which posits boundaries separating within from without, while simultaneously selecting the constellation of elements that characterize what lies within” (Li 2000, 152). At the same time, articulation also accounts for the provisional enunciation of collective identities, shared interests or common positions (Li 2000). The forms articulations take “are not predetermined by objective structures and positions, but emerge through processes of action and imagination shaped by the ‘continuous play of history, culture and power’” (Li 2000, 174).

16Articulation, and the connected idea of relationality, are key concepts to understand our field. On the one hand, they highlight that the idea of indigeneity emerges in a specific historical context and that self-identification as an indigenous group, a positioning that draws upon historical practices and is grounded in patterns of engagement and struggle, is a product of articulation work. The idea of indigeneity does not emerge from objective structures and positions, but from situated processes of action and imagination, of engagement and enunciation.

17On the other hand, these concepts also stress the fact that indigeneity’s political relevance is linked to the alliances it allows for. While producing boundaries that determine who is or is not part of that group, the articulation of an indigenous identity strengthens alliances between a group of individuals and allows them to organize as a collective, enunciating their collective identity in the international sphere, for example, uniting as an indigenous peoples’ movement).

Traditional communities and peoples

18In the Brazilian context, the same reflections presented above can be extended to the concept of traditional communities and peoples (povos e comunidades tradicionais) and to the groups that self-identify as such.

19In the anglophone anthropological literature, however, the use of the term traditional has been criticized as evoking notions of temporality (Nadasdy 1999) and is therefore avoided. The situation is different in Brazil, as many communities in the country claim to be addressees of the Brazilian legislation and policy for traditional communities and peoples. In international legislation, this would be the equivalent to categories such as local communities (CBD) (United Nations 1992) or tribal peoples (ILO Convention 169) (ILO 1989).

20The term traditional communities and peoples is claimed by Brazilian groups and used in a way that demonstrates that “traditional” refers to bodies of knowledge and practices that are dynamic. At least in the Brazilian context, it is possible to trace a parallel between what has happened to the term indigenous and what has happened to the category of traditional communities and peoples. Like the former, the latter was also appropriated by the communities who were designated by it. This changed its meaning as communities started to organize around it and articulate their identities as indigenous and tribal peoples (M.C. da Cunha 2009, 278).

21For Almeida (2004), the category is increasingly used to designate social agents that self-identify as traditional communities and peoples, rather than being a category used to name a group of “biologized subjects”. In fact, it is used to name

social subjects with a collective existence, incorporating through the political-organizational criterion a diversity of situations correspondent to groups such as the seringueiros, quebradeiras de coco-babaçu, quilombolas, ribeirinhos, castanheiros and fishermen that have equally structured themselves in social movements. (Almeida 2004, 12)

22The term traditional is therefore used with a different meaning by quilombola and caiçara communities in Brazil. It is deployed not as an opposition to modern, but as a term around which these groups organize and through which they can demand specific rights. In this context, the term traditional is detached from the notions of temporality that it carried, to give name to a group of communities and peoples whose ways of living are dynamic and change over time.

23I will use the term traditional in this work, conscientious of the extremely relevant critiques presented by the anglophone literature. a This is the term that has been articulated by my interlocutors most often, both in the context of WIPO and Vale do Ribeira (where the terminology quilombola knowledge was also deployed by quilombola communities). When it is the case, I will highlight the situations in which traditional was deployed in reference to notions of temporality. Whenever the term traditional is used in the context of Vale do Ribeira communities, however, the reader should consider that it was used with the new signification these communities assigned to the word.

2. Indigenous knowledge: articulation, relationality and a concept’s life-cycle

24The identification of some groups as indigenous or traditional appears in direct connection with the efforts by a part of the anthropological literature to conceptualize the practices and collective creations of such groups as “indigenous knowledge”. As Dove explains, the idea of “indigenous knowledge” was first coined as a “useful counter to the customary denial of the possibility” that something like indigenous knowledge (in opposition to scientific knowledge) could even exist (2000, 241).

25Recognizing indigenous intellectual productions as “indigenous knowledge” has served as an “innovative tool” to counter the belief that only “modern, global scientific knowledge” could contribute to development (Dove 2000, 213). Along these lines, the concept of indigenous knowledge was coined as a response to the legacy of colonialism, which posits the hegemony of knowledge produced in the West and its imposition worldwide as the “universal” (Quijano 2000) and hierarchically superior mode of knowledge production (Agrawal 1995).

26For Nadasdy, for example, indigenous knowledge refers to something that cannot be subsumed into the western definition of knowledge (1999). Instead, it refers much more to a “way of life”, not so much to “an abstract product of the human intellect, but one aspect of broader cultural processes that are embedded in complex networks of social relations, values and practices which give them meaning” (Nadasdy 1999, 4 and 5). In this sense, it does not encompass abstract ideas locked at a point in time but accounts for the dynamism of indigenous societies. As Cunha puts it, traditional knowledge can be seen as the “lasting ensemble of particular forms of generating knowledge” (M.C. da Cunha 2009, 365). Local knowledge systems are not frozen in time, but have a great capacity for innovation (Pinedo-Vasquez, Hecht and Padoch 2012, 146). Traditional knowledge in this sense does relate to a set of practices and collective creations that exist for a certain number of years, but rather to knowledges and forms of knowing that are situated in specific knowledge systems.

27This concept of indigenous knowledge has also entered the legal and policy arenas. Traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions are terminologies mobilized by WIPO and its IGC, as well as by the CBD and many scholars (Abdel-Latif 2017; Carvalho 2005, 2012, 2017; Hayden 2003; Oguamanam 2018; Perlman 2017; Wendland 2017). Other international legal instruments, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), use different terminologies, such as “cultural heritage” or “indigenous knowledge” (Thathong 2014).

28Although recognizing that it has served as an important tool for a while, Dove argues that, through its life-cycle, the concept of indigenous knowledge has become a “hackneyed dichotomy” (2000, 341). Both Dove (2000) and Agarwal (1995) suggest that it does not make sense to talk about indigenous and western knowledge as opposed notions. In fact, Dove argues that “the separation of local and extra-local knowledge systems implicit in the concept of indigenous knowledge leads to the eliding of interaction and contestation between them” (2000, 235). Instead of being isolated systems, so-called indigenous and western knowledge would actually be in constant interaction, an exchange that is relevant to the production of both.

29The creation of the indigenous knowledge category departs indeed from an artificial division between “us and them” and recognizing this fact is essential to understanding what such a category veils. This recognition serves as a key element to rewriting oversimplified histories that oversee the interactions between “multiple domains and types of knowledges, with differing logics and epistemologies” (Agrawal 1995, 31). Nevertheless, we cannot stop the analysis of the “life-cycle of the concept of indigenous knowledge” (Dove 2000, 238) at this point. As Dove (2000, 242)mentions, this concept has been embraced by indigenous peoples as a weapon that can be used to fuel some of their revindications.

30In fact, if one emphasizes the link between the concepts of indigenous knowledge and indigeneity, remembering that one is not possible without the other, it becomes clearer that articulation and relationality are also key elements required to reach a more complete understanding of the implications of the concept of indigenous knowledge. Like the concept of indigeneity, the concept of indigenous knowledge is also appropriated by indigenous and local communities and enters the political, policy and legal arenas. Through this movement, it produces effects that should be taken into consideration, because they allow for specific alliances and articulations. The concept of indigenous knowledge has material implications in the lives of indigenous peoples as it changes what is possible in the negotiation of meaning.

31Through the analysis of the use of this concept in WIPO and Vale do Ribeira, I will give empirical evidence to these first theoretical affirmations. For the moment, it suffices to think that indigenous knowledges justify the creation of the IGC. While it may indeed not make sense to enclose indigenous and western knowledge in completely isolated categories, this division is being made and is having concrete effects. It is due to the enunciation of indigenous knowledge as a body of specific knowledge systems, which carry particular characteristics and deserve particular protection by intellectual law, that the forum was created. Based on the assumed specificity of what has conventionally been called indigenous knowledge, some researchers and policymakers started to argue for the need of a specific intellectual property regime to “protect” this body of knowledge. The IGC is a very material implication of the articulation of the idea of indigenous knowledges It goes beyond a purely philosophical enunciation of the term, because it led to the creation of a forum in which ideas are discussed and alliances are made, to create a body of international legislation that has the potential to directly affect the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples worldwide.

3. Between narratives of protection and dispossession: intellectual property and indigenous knowledges

32The issue of intellectual property rights over indigenous knowledge is at the center of the discussions at the IGC. It has caught the attention of legal scholars and policymakers, especially in the field of intellectual property law, as well as of researchers in the social sciences, more specifically in the subfields of legal and political anthropology. To address this discussion and to organize the body of literature reviewed here, this section divides different authors into two groups in accordance with their positions. I have called these the convergence approach and the conflictual approach.

33The authors that use a convergence approach start from the premise that intellectual property rights can be applied to indigenous knowledges as a way to protect them. In other words, they can be seen as the extension of a universal rights regime to a group that so far has been prevented from its protection. Nevertheless, these authors believe that the current intellectual property regime is unable to solve problems related to indigenous knowledge (Frankel 2017) and are worried about answering how a specific intellectual property system over indigenous knowledge should work, as well as what elements should be considered for its construction (Abdel-Latif 2017; Amaral and Fierro 2013; Carvalho 2012; Frankel 2017; Oguamanam 2018; Wendland 2017). In other words, they focus on the creation of a sui generis intellectual property system for indigenous knowledges. The positions encompassed in this approach are aligned with the perspective of the international organization that works with the same thematic, WIPO. The same perspective is also shared by some multinational companies working in industries to which the discussion is of utmost importance (an example is the Brazilian cosmetic company Natura & Co.). This viewpoint is at the center of WIPO’s IGC, which focuses on text-based negotiations aiming at the production of legal instruments to regulate the application of intellectual property law to indigenous knowledge (WIPO 2018a).

34Among the main limitations of the convergence approach is that, although it considers some specificities regarding traditional knowledge, it does not give centrality to relations of power. By defending the consideration of indigenous peoples’ interests alongside industrial interests, those who adopt this approach do not take seriously the different and often conflicting economic and political stands of these two spheres. Inspired by Foucault (1982), we can say that an analysis that privileges the understanding of the power relations involved in the claims for a universal intellectual property rights system allows us to better understand what is involved in the construction of such institutions. Such an understanding can clarify what the possible consequences of creating this intellectual property system are.

35On the opposite side of this approach, we can situate the conflictual approach, composed of a set of authors who defend that intellectual property rights cannot protect indigenous knowledges. By proposing a framework to understand contemporary developments in global capitalism, these authors suggest that the concentration of corporate power in the life sciences, as well as the global imposition of intellectual property and biopiracy for both genetic resources and the indigenous knowledges associated with them, may be recognized as new moments of accumulation by dispossession (Boyle 2002; Harvey 2004; Kloppenburg 2010; Peschard 2009; Shiva 1997, 2007; West 2016).

36“Accumulation by dispossession” is a key concept for this approach and therefore the next few lines will be dedicated to better understanding this idea. The concept derives from Marx’s concept of primitive accumulation, the historical process of divorcing the producer from the means of production, which happened in the prehistory of capitalism. As Marx explains, the expropriation of the peasant from the soil gave the basis for this process, which occurred differently in different locations (Marx 2004). Other factors, such as colonization, are highlighted by Marx as levers of primitive accumulation. The role of the state in the process of expropriation is stressed by the author, as it is the state that creates and enforces regulations that give space for dispossession and the criminalization of practices of resistance (Marx 2004).

37David Harvey, building on Rosa Luxembourg’s analysis, criticizes Marx’s assumption that the processes of primitive accumulation only took place in the prehistory of capitalism, arguing on the contrary that these processes have been taking place throughout the history of capitalism and continue up to the present day. As Luxembourg explains, capitalism is based in two forms of exploitation: one that concerns the commodity market, where surplus-value is produced; and another, which concerns the relations between capitalism and non-capitalist modes of production and whose methods are colonial policy, an international loan system and war. According to Luxembourg, these two systems of exploitation are in an organic relation and this dynamic is essential for the reproduction of capitalism (Luxembourg apud Harvey 2004, 73). Bearing in mind that these are ongoing processes, Harvey (2004, 74) argues that it is not helpful to classify them in a linear historical way and suggests not to call these processes primitive accumulation, but accumulation by dispossession.

38Harvey demonstrates that accumulation by dispossession can occur in a variety of forms and ways. These include, for example: conversion of diverse modalities of property into exclusive private property; colonial, neo-colonial and imperial processes of appropriation of assets (e.g. natural resources); the commodification of labor power; as well as suppression of indigenous forms of production and consumption (Harvey 2004, 75). In the past few years, new mechanisms of accumulation by dispossession have started to appear, among which there are two forms that are especially significant for our analysis: “patenting and licensing of genetic materials, seed plasmas, and all manner of other products”, which “can now be used against whole populations whose environmental management practices have played a crucial role in the development of those materials”; and “the commodification of cultural forms, histories and intellectual creativity” (Harvey 2004, 76). Deploying an analogy with colonial conquest, Shiva argues that “the vacancy of targeted lands has been replaced by the vacancy of targeted life forms and species manipulated by new biotechnologies” (1997, 2). Along the same lines, West (2016, 66) stresses that all cycles of dispossession depend and rely on racist, colonial ideologies to set the stage for accumulation through dispossession.

39By placing power relations in the center of the analysis, as well as by accounting for elements such as colonialism and coloniality, the conflictual approach contextualizes the creation of new property categories, the consequences these new institutions entail as well as their role in the expansion of capitalist frontiers. The concept of accumulation by dispossession is key as it demonstrates that dispossession is an ongoing and continuous process, necessary for the reproduction of capitalism. This approach puts into evidence the entire context of the development of new property categories, in particular that of intellectual property. By promoting the enclosure of the intangible productions of the mind (Boyle 2002), the creation of intellectual property is a new instance of accumulation by dispossession, in this case, dispossessions of knowledge. These movements of new enclosures are deeply connected to the entrance of more domains of human life into the juridical arena and the judicialization of political and social life (Comaroff and Comaroff 2009), as already stated in the introduction to this work.

40The convergence approach puts into evidence the element of relationality, which has been key for our analysis of indigeneity and indigenous knowledge. It demonstrates that the category of intellectual property rights in regard to indigenous knowledge does not appear in a void but is directly linked to historically situated instances of knowledge dispossession. The relational link is central, especially when discussing intellectual property rights related to indigenous knowledge, because the both ideas appear in relation to dispossessions. On the one hand, intellectual property rights promote the enclosure of knowledge productions. On the other, the concept of indigeneity, appears in a context of colonization and dispossession.

41Through the concepts of dispossession and relationality, we have key theoretical tools to analyze our field. But by themselves, these ideas do not explain why indigenous peoples are engaging in discussions about the protection of indigenous knowledge through the idea of intellectual property. Why do they decide to take part in the IGC discussions? Are intellectual property rights over indigenous knowledge a concept that can also be articulated by indigenous peoples and traditional communities? How is such a category built and what does it entail?

42To consider these issues, we should go back to my initial specifications about the methodological approach for this work. As I have mentioned earlier, I adopt an approach of an ethnography of global connection to this field, based on multi-sited fieldwork. This method, however, does not only offer methodological tools to approach the field but also serves as a conceptual framework to understand the unexpected encounters that are at the center of this analysis.

4. Friction: interaction and zones of awkward engagement

43At the heart of a multi-sited ethnography are “strategies of quite literally following connections” (Marcus 1995, 97). These strategies do not necessarily imply a comparison, as often they are “not generated for homogeneously conceived conceptual units” (Marcus 1995, 102). It is obvious that Vale do Ribeira and WIPO are far from being similar units: they are composed not only of different actors but also of different processes and rationalities. While one is a place characterized by its socio-biodiversity, where people live, produce and reproduce, the other is a political forum that aims at creating a legal instrument, a place where actors from a wide variety of places meet sporadically to discuss specific issues. Therefore, I do not argue they are comparable units.

44Nevertheless, both sites are connected by the same discussion. In both sites, narratives around the meaning of indigenous knowledge and protection of indigenous knowledge are being constructed. Considering them together, therefore, may bring to light nuances that we would not be able to account for otherwise. Looking at the contingency of encounters, I hope to shed light on these regional-to-global networks of power and meaning (Tsing 2011).

45In this analysis, I am looking at the efforts, in an international forum, to give a universal response to extremely distinct socio-realities, united in categories such as indigenous knowledge, to which intellectual property rights are being attributed. How is it possible, though, to make distinct socio-realities fit in a legal category? Can a legal definition account for such plural experiences? Why does this discussion appear at WIPO? Why do indigenous peoples decide to participate? In which contexts are traditional communities in Vale do Ribeira claiming a collective identity and a specific set of knowledges that are deeply linked to these identity claims? Are there any points of connection between these processes? Why does the international process matter to the local realm and, on the other hand, how is the local shaping what is discussed at the international level?

46In this work, I do not aim to find normative answers to these questions. By analyzing the negotiation of meaning around these concepts, the objective is to account for the complexity of questions they are surrounded by. This process is not only creating legal categories per se, but unexpected alliances are also being forged in the process. Through friction, the “grip of worldly encounter” (Tsing 2011, 1), cultures are continuously co-produced: not only does the local accommodate to the global, but also the recognition of the specificity of local realities opens up new possibilities of discourse at the global level. But I am getting ahead of myself. For this analysis, it suffices now to understand that a look at friction, “the awkward, unequal, unstable, and creative qualities of interconnection across difference” (Tsing 2011, 4) will be key. Frictions remind us of the

47importance of interaction in defining movement, cultural form, and agency. (…) Roads are a good image for conceptualizing how friction works: Roads create pathways that make motion easier and more efficient, but in doing so they limit where we go. The ease of travel they facilitate is also a structure of confinement. (Tsing 2011, 6)

48Friction allows us to account for these sometimes paradoxical uses of legal categories, which at the same time enable and exclude, recognize and create, facilitate and confine. To better understand these frictions, as argued above, let’s now dive into a close analysis of our field.


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