. 5
( 8)


and depending on whether one counts the claims or counts the people.4 I
focus instead on one type of multiplicity, in which more than one person
means there is more than one (type of) claim being put forward. In respect
of intellectual property rights, that in turn would imply more than one kind
of originating activity. I believe that this focus could in the long run throw
light on Euro-American assumptions about property in persons. However,
the immediate enquiry springs out of Melanesian materials.
I wish to pursue a strong form of multiple claims in relation to cer-
tain Melanesian societies, all from lowland Papua New Guinea. Papua New
Guinea is there in Davies and Naf¬ne™s book (2001 : 172“3), where, following
Pottage (1998), they discuss composite claims put forward in relation to a cell
line developed from blood samples collected from that country; one of the
˜inventors™ named in the ensuing patent had been active as a facilitator not as
a scientist. However, the materials I consider concern Papua New Guineans
in their relations with one another. They offer some striking examples of
multiplicity in the way they count persons, and it is persons vis-´ -vis their
origins of whom they are thinking. The origins are vested in parenthood and
kinship relations; different types of claims yield different kinds of rights. This
introduces a deliberate contingency into my narrative.
Melanesia aside, what has kinship to do with anything? English-speakers
might use the language of ownership for kin, although explicitly without
connotations of property rights (e.g., Edwards and Strathern 2000). Nonethe-
less, kinship is interestingly absent from the lawyers™ questions about persons
as property. In all the material they consider, Davies and Naf¬ne may have

thought kin relations too far removed from their legal and quasi-legal con-
cerns or that owning (˜my™ child) in such a context was merely a matter of
identi¬cation (as in my boss) or a re¬‚ex of belonging (as in my team). How-
ever, the cross-cultural point is that elsewhere many claims on both persons
and things that begin to look property-like, even taking one to court as in the
Aboriginal case, are premised on the rights kin have in one another.
The present narrative creates a question about multiple origins, then, from
a blatantly heterogeneous set of ˜contingent intersections™ or ˜discontinuous
particularities™; the aim is to ˜enable their intelligibility to be appreciated
differently™ (Barron 1998: 42“3, after Foucault and Levinas). And severally.
Euro-American anxieties about property in persons, the role of the origi-
nator in intellectual property rights, along with the nature of Papua New
Guinean kinship transactions, and the way people envisage their origins in one
another: there are greater and lesser contingencies here. Clearly, the concerns
do not add up, but taken together perhaps the intelligibility of each is a little


Counting People: Murik
Imagine a party of NGO-driven Euro-American experts wanting to ascertain
precise genealogical relationships. This could be in the context of advice over
claims for natural resource extraction, possibly envisaged as royalties or as
recompense for indigenous knowledge (Posey 1996; Toft 1998). The experts
assume there will be no community leader “ in any case, it is part of their
anthropologically informed critique of multinational corporations that these
extractors of resources do not pay attention to local divisions “ and will be
sensitive to the fact that it is easy to overlook women™s claims. In order to give
women space to speak, they decide to collect information from husbands and
wives separately.
If they were to go into a Murik village, as it existed in the Sepik River area
in the mid-1980s (Lipset and Stritecky 1994), they might have some surprises.
They would no doubt be attuned to the difference between biological and
social kinship, would not expect people to have any knowledge of genetics and
would be on the lookout for classi¬catory kin. Having done their homework,
they would be aware that these Papua New Guinean people allocate children
to bilateral kin groups on both the mother™s and father™s side. Indeed, knowing
that all four of the child™s kin groups may make claims on it, they would also
be aware of the importance of nurture in the way claims were established. So

they would probably settle for the simplest kind of information, beginning
with questions about the children people had. Here they might well be startled
to ¬nd that husbands and wives can disagree. Each has his or her own version,
and while often these tally this is not always true: not just the names and sex
of children differ but so do the numbers. They do not count the children in
the same way.
Oddly enough, the actual ¬eldworkers of twenty years ago who reported
this were looking for more disagreement than they found. They had come
with a theory of knowledge that posited that the sexes articulated cultural
knowledge differently and that genealogical divergences would appear in their
kinship discourses at large (Lipset and Stritecky 1994: 3, 18). Instead, they found
considerable agreement, and the divergences in counting boiled down to two
sets of differences. Murik men mentioned their adopted children more often
than women, whereas women mentioned children who had died more often
than men. I want to suggest that this piece of arithmetic needs a general
mathematical solution. That is, it is not a question of people not able to add
up properly or adding together incommensurables. Rather it is a question of
the observer having to rewrite the sum as an equation: to rewrite the ˜one™
world that the observer sees, in which children are potentially countable, as
˜two™ worlds, perceived separately by men and women, in which children are
divided from parents in different ways.
In this example, and those following, I have deliberately veered away from
societies with what are known in an older literature as unilineal descent groups,
that is, where people are clearly differentiated by the exclusive groups to which
they are af¬liated by ancestry through one parent alone.5 Unilineal descent
gives too quick an answer to the way people in Papua New Guinea can perceive
origins. Ancestry appears as an origin in the idiom of an exclusive grouping
that already presupposes belonging and the sense of ownership this brings,6
and I want to arrive at some understanding of ownership rather than start
with it.
What attracted me to the Murik account was Eduardo Viveiros de Castro™s
(1992; 1998) thesis of Amazonian perspectivism. By contrast with the com-
monly understood (Euro-American) sense of perspective in which a person™s
point of view creates an object (out there), Amazonian perspectivism creates
the subject. For the original condition of humans and animals, he explains, is
not animality (˜nature™) but humanity (˜society™). Amazonian perspectivism
implies that any being taking a point of view sees itself as human and as a
person, and differences between points of view lie not in minds “ they are
all the same “ but in bodies, and here all humans see some bodies as animal
and others as human like themselves. To be a person is to register the point of

view a subject takes. In the Melanesian analogue I earlier thought I had found
(Strathern 1999a: 249“56), the pertinent divide would not be between humans
and non-humans but between different kinds of humans, such as the persons
of a son and a sister™s son.7 Their divergent af¬liations axiomatically ensure
that being a son is not the same as being a sister™s son; the perspectivist point
would be that these positions are not relative views on the (same) world but
point to radically distinct states of being in non-similar worlds. Paternal kin
claim their child in a very different way from maternal kin.
Now my example had explored gender, but it had also rested on the presence
of group af¬liation. For a division between father™s side and mother™s side
on which the distinctiveness rests, that is, the division between parents, is
iconic in descent group systems. The advantage of the Murik material is that
it side-steps group assumptions about maternal and paternal connections
yet locates an intriguing difference in how mothers and fathers view their
children. We could even say, after Viveiros de Castro, that it is not that they
count their children differently but what they count as children are different
This probably seems a rather elaborate way in which to comment upon
men™s and women™s diverse renderings of childbirth. Why not just accept them
as holding different perspectives in the Euro-American sense of self-referential
˜unique™ points of view to put alongside numerous other self-referential and
unique points of view (Strathern 1999a: 251)? The Euro-American stance im-
plies diverse ways of ˜knowing™ the one world we all share but described
from different viewpoints. However, knowing that knowledge matters when
it comes to intellectual property, we might wish to dig a bit deeper.

Analogous Worlds
What attracted me to Viveiros de Castro™s Amazonian perspectivism is the
clarity with which he locates it as a matter of ontology not epistemology. It is
not about what one knows but about how one is, about the nature of the body
with which one inhabits the world and apprehends it. The body is the organ
of perception; perspectives are different according to the body one has. The
reference to the body includes its affects, dispositions and capacities (Viveiros
de Castro 1998a: 476, reiterated by Pedersen 2001 : 420). In short, across species
there is spiritual or intellectual unity, corporeal diversity. Now the Melanesian
case does not present us with the viewpoints that humans and non-humans
have on one another, and the parallel with Amazonian perspectivism must be
tentative. But there is a kind of bodily perspective that does suggest differences
of an ontological order.

Lipset and Stritecky (1994: 15“17) themselves dismiss some of the more
obvious reasons why Murik men and women should count their children dif-
ferently, arguing that the disparity is not just about women recalling stillbirths
or men boasting about their social power. The reason Lipset and Stritecky put
forward has to do with the bodily interior of each sex and the in¬‚uences in-
ternal bodily powers have on others. It is simply that women are not bothered
about mentioning dead babies, whereas men are very bothered indeed. Men
are held responsible for the death of children at birth because this is a sign that
they have failed to follow pregnancy protocols. Adultery, for instance, puts the
husband™s interior body into a state that is lethal for the young child. When
it comes to adoption, women tend to mention children adopted-in but not
children adopted-out. To men the traf¬c is all part of their larger nurturing
roles (which they liken to mothering, speci¬cally suckling),8 including help-
ing others by sending them children. It is women who see the children they
have lost as truncating the kind of nurture they offer (˜cutting the breast™).
Like the observance of protocols at birth, the authors argue, women™s nurture
requires management of the interior body, for the nubile/parturient female
body is otherwise dangerous to adults in general.
Very crudely, then, the signs switch: men mother (nurture) adults and are
dangerous to children; women mother (nurture) children and are danger-
ous to adults. In this equation, the different effects that men and women
have lie in their being, a matter not so much of managing knowledge as of
managing the consequences of their bodily condition. The conditions are
speci¬c. Thus liability for danger comes from female bodies in the form of
young women of childbearing age and from men™s bodies when their wives
are pregnant. Insofar as such internal dispositions shape the world that people
perceive exists around them, then they (these dispositions) have ontological
But in what sense are they different effects? Is this a case of what Pedersen
(2001 : 413, after Vivieros de Castro; cf. Wagner 1977) calls analogous identi¬-
cation? We may recall the perspectivist contrast, spiritual unity: corporeal
diversity. In the Murik instance, male and female bodies seem alike in their
inner capacities to in¬‚uence others (inner unity); at the same time, bodies
are differentiated along another axis altogether, in being responsive to other
persons™ bodies in particular states of childhood or adulthood (reproductive
diversity.) For with some drama, Murik reveal a difference between male and
female persons through this other difference between persons, that between
adults and children.10 Temporality, or stage of growth, introduces crucial dis-
tinctions, so that under certain (temporally bounded) conditions men™s and
women™s bodies have differentiated effects on others.

It is clear that more than one kind of originating activity is going on. First
as child and then as adult, the person owes health and vitality to the care that
others take, and the care is of one of two kinds: observing rules or bestowing
nurture. The inner powers of parents “ both male and female “ set different
in¬‚uences into motion depending on the reproductive stage of the child or
adult. In turn, exterior form allows speci¬c social origins to be claimed at
certain moments.
Thus Murik men and women alike may claim the privilege of decorating
children™s bodies. Decorating takes place, for instance, at the climax of a series
of rituals conferring entry into a ceremonial group, with its titles and insignia,
and is the privilege of the title-holding senior of the group, male or female.
Indeed, the capacity to bestow certain named ornaments is described by the
ethnographers as a right and one exercised somewhat competitively. First born
children in particular ¬nd themselves subject to the claims of more than one
kin group that may be competing for the child (Lipset and Stritecky 1994: 5, 7).
Note that these are not unilineal descent groups but ceremonial groups that
may use ties through either sons (or brothers) or daughters (or sisters) to claim
af¬liates. Far from group af¬liation being settled at birth, then, allegiance is
established only once growth to adulthood is assured. The af¬liation of the
child is claimed by his or her seniors wishing to bestow their ornaments. We
may conclude that the design of the ornaments tells you which group the child
belongs to “ and insofar as they declare the child™s subject position then the
child, so to speak, belongs to the ornaments.

Counting Ancestors: Omie
How many bodies are made present when persons manifest their capacities as
though they had both inner and outer versions and when they move through
stages that may, as when maturation rites are performed, alter bodily states,
temporally or permanently? Or when bodies also hold the imprint of their
diverse kinship origins? The Murik child could be claimed by groups on either
the mother™s or the father™s side, and it is his or her body that they in turn claim
in decorating it. Where the bodies of children are held to take after the bodies
of parents, procreation can introduce a further dynamic. If persons derive
substance from both maternal and paternal kin, each generation has to take
into account the fresh combination/division introduced by the new bringing
together of the child™s two parents.11 But reproducing the same bodies in each
generation means reproducing the same number of origins. This is an explicit
aim of some Papua New Guinea kinship systems that consistently produce new
generations out of old ones with the same number of antecedents. They achieve

this by deliberately shedding earlier connections, as in the famous conception“
deconception mathematics of the Bush Mekeo (Mosko 1983; 1985).12 Far from
the multiplier effect of Euro-American genealogies, each generation can point
to an identical number of ancestral origins.
Some people bypass the mathematics altogether. They cut through the
issues of multiplication and division by simply declaring that women belong
to their mother™s groups and men to their father™s. Such systems are rare in
the ethnographic record. Exclusive af¬liation along gender lines seemingly
¬‚ies in the face of the usual kinds of accommodations for combining group
membership with reproduction based on parental pairing. However, in one
famous case of ˜sex-af¬liation™, the symmetry of same-sex identi¬cation leads
to the extreme claim by the ethnographer that the sexes in themselves form
˜distinct social groups™.13
Writing about the Omie of Papua New Guinea as things were some thirty
years ago, Rohatynskyj14 observed:

It is clear that the sexes comprise two distinct groups. Men reside in collectivities
on land with which they are identi¬ed through a set of ma™i ma™i [land speci¬c
totems] and the anie [plant emblems]. Interspersed among them are isolated
women who, in consistently not bearing the anie of the groups within which they
reside, stand as a whole in opposition to the groups formed by men.
1990: 449

She goes on to argue that men and women are equally persons and equally
involved in group reproduction. This is through their anie af¬liation, for
women take their mother™s and men their father™s. And they have the same
kinds of emblems because, it is reported, they also have the same kinds of
bodies: Omie women have their mother™s bodies and men their father™s bodies.
Omie can think of themselves, then, as having either one (same sex) parent
or as having two. In other words, they can count the number of parents they
have in one of two ways. Rohatynskyj herself (1990: 434) opens her analysis by
saying that it is the sex of the child that determines group af¬liation. From the
child™s perspective, there is no alternative; each person has only one same-sex
parent (male and female are analogous here). At the same time, the group
af¬liation that follows from this divides parents quite radically into two kinds.
The opposite sex parent plays quite different and quite distinct roles; children
may show this parent™s imprint on their external features, for instance. But the
overwhelming nature of the same-sex tie means not only that same-sex parent
and child belong to (are identi¬ed with) one another but also that it is the
vital substance of that parent alone that causes the child to come into being
and gives it an origin. This Rohatynskyj (1990: 439) refers to as ownership.

It is worth noting that the same-sex parent is duplicated, through marriage
rules not necessary to spell out here, in that the girl is also, through this other
route, identi¬ed with her mother™s mother and the boy with his father™s father.
(Those who share the same plant emblem are spoken of as living together and
here men take precedence; men™s ties to the land introduce an important
asymmetry between adjacent generations, which the marriage rules resolve
in alternate generations.15 ) This shows in maturation rituals, some of which
assume that male and female bodies are externally analogous, boys and girls
having their septum pierced in the same way, and others of which diverge in
order to ensure the appropriate development of internal capacities. Hence boys
undergo re-birth at the hands of men, who refashion their insides through
dietary and other rules, the ¬‚edglings emerging from the initiation nest to take
the place of their grandfathers (father™s fathers).16 As they come out, senior
men sing songs that the candidates™ grandfathers composed personally, and
from this moment the juniors are able to use their grandfather™s totemic
names. Girls are taken care of by senior women, taught appropriate bodily
comportment, and we may, after Houseman 1988, read their own capacity to
give birth as their inheritance of their own mother™s and mother™s mother™s
capacity. The generations are united by the vitality they show.
Perhaps there is a similarity here to identi¬cations made elsewhere, and rad-
ically between dead and living. Pedersen™s (2001 ) analysis of certain (southern)
North Asian societies is germane. These people depart from the Amazonian-
type of human /animal perspectivism also found in (northern) North Asia but
instigate a perspectivism of sorts across interhuman relations and speci¬cally
relations between living persons and dead ancestor spirits. It takes shamans to
move across the divide and see through ancestral eyes. In the Melanesia cases,
there may be an equally dramatic denouement (a special performance), but
it is one that takes phase as a stage in the reproductive process that reveals the
unity of ancestors and descendants. An altered external body (the now mature
child) points to the ¬‚ow of internal powers across the generations. This is em-
phatically an embodied power; grandchildren appear as their grandparents.17
Put otherwise, the grandchild makes the grandparent appear.

Owners and Makers
Let me return to the issue of ownership. Rohatynskyj used the term when she
described a parent being the cause of his or her child, by which she meant the
cause of its being and condition in the world (battle for a child to be born as
either its mother™s offspring or its father™s takes place, she observes, hidden
away, within the womb). Yet there can be no ˜original™ in the in¬nite series

D“M“MM (daughter“mother“mother™s mother), only the same state repli-
cated. As Houseman (1988) demonstrates, reduplication is a sign of indeter-
minacy. Perhaps we can regard the opposite sex parent as a kind of negative
presence, in which case its active elimination is the relational act that confers
the same-sex parent™s ownership.
Among its attributes, and like the songs sung at a boy™s coming-out cere-
mony, the anie emblem presents an image of what it is of the person that can
be replicated in the next generation.18 The emblem belongs to more than one
body, but is only produced through a particular body, that is, in being borne
by a living person. So it is an image of his antecedents that a person owns, or
equally we may say it is the image that owns the person (that is, through which
these antecedents own the person). The anie endures; a succession of persons
come to hold it, but the anie makes them all one (the son is both father and
grandfather). If the same person (S “ F “ FF) is counted innumerable times,
separate persons (S “ F “ FF) are equally counted as one. ˜The one™ may be
singular; its power derives from its having passed through several bodies.
Now there is an issue of moment in similarities with Amazonian perspec-
tivism and its emphasis on ontologically rather than epistemologically in-
formed points of view. An epistemological viewpoint produces not diverse
ways of being but diverse representations of the world. We may borrow the
latter vocabulary to include persons™ representations of themselves in the
world. This is one sense in which Euro-Americans understand intellectual
products. Yet the ornaments and songs and habits of comportment these
Papua New Guinea people produce are not ˜representations™. They are more
like demonstrations or certi¬cates, a point to which I shall return,19 or like
body products produced in the course of people™s production of one another.
Crook (1999: 237) recounts the dramatic gesture with which a senior man from
Bolivip (Papua New Guinea), in wishing to convey what/how he was trans-
mitting to the ethnographer, feigned an incision in his thigh; he had given
over part of himself, meat, muscle. More generally, knowing the protocols is
not suf¬cient for they cannot be represented in models for people to follow;
in coaching the next generation, the seniors™ job is not done until they have
witnessed juniors acting out the protocols. The seniors are originators of the
body transformations the juniors undergo.
What rescues this analysis from another Euro-American binarism (mind:
body) is the perspectivist question about whether such bodies inhabit one or
many worlds. Or rather, how many different kinds (Astuti 1995) of bodies there
are. It would be absurd to argue that bodily distinctiveness alone means that
people inhabit different worlds. But it is the case, across Papua New Guinea,
that people deliberately attempt to make new bodies in order to be persons in

a new world. Hirsch (2001 ) argues the point forcefully. Melanesians devise
new ways to be persons, giving evidence of an ability to transform themselves
in order to make themselves subjects in, have an existence in, a transformed
world. He gives a telling example from the days of ˜¬rst contact™ in Fuyuge,
when people killed several pigs in order to convert a certain kind of headdress
from a man-killing one to a pig-killing one. This transformation of the or-
nament meant that the headdress could continue to be worn but would give
the body quite new connotations. No longer would its appearance point to
prowess in killing people, but to the fact that its bearers were ˜persons of a
“new” kind, those who knew the ˜law”™ (2001 : 245). More generally, people™s
understanding of transformations in their lives affects their interpretations
of what it means to be the origin of something. Among recent transforma-
tions is a new language for the process of transformation itself that gives it an
intellectual cast: focus is on the knowledge involved.
Rohatynskyj™s (1997; 2001) description of present day Omie is apposite.
Omie now work with the notion of themselves as a group with a unique culture
(1997: 439), and this culture has become an ˜origin™ of their self-accounts. In
this context, people talk about what happens to knowledge [in English] such
as the knowledge their seniors have vested in the anthropologist.
To the anthropologist, her ¬ndings are inevitably representations; to the
Omie, whether as a reliable guide to the working out of land claims or as
a source of mischief used by the unauthorised, they are rather more than
that. But ˜knowledge™ offers a new idiom in which to talk about new trans-
formations, including people™s perceptions of themselves as people with a
˜culture™, much of which in turn consists of cultural knowledge. Betrayal or
loss of culture or knowledge is a language Papua New Guineans routinely
adopt for their present condition (cf. Kirsch 2001 ). When talking of the disap-
pearance of traditional songs, Omie thus lament, ˜We have lost our customs™
(Rohatynskyj 1997: 450). This is not the place to consider the nuances of
Melanesian ˜custom™;20 globally speaking, part of its power is the status the
concept of cultural knowledge has in the international community. Knowl-
edge pervades the language of UNESCO and WIPO.21 In standing for what
people transmitted to one another in the past, however, its usage may obscure
an intergenerational dynamic in which, in the eyes of some (usually seniors),
other people (usually juniors) appear to have lost interest in tradition (Sykes
2000; 2004).22 It may also obscure an ongoing shift from an ontological to an
epistemological sense of perspective.
New generation Omie no longer recognise the same-sex af¬liations, anie
and the totemic species through which people™s claims on one another had
once rested so ¬rmly. In turn, the ethnographer (Rohatynskyj 2001 ) must ask

questions about the nature of the transactions by which she came to acquire
Omie cultural knowledge, what her ownership of it means and what then she
must do with its form embodied in narrative on tape.23

Propagating Images
Songs and narratives are forms of expression that Euro-Americans may class
as intellectual. I have embedded some Papua New Guinean examples in what
seems another description altogether, the way in which persons reproduce
themselves over the generations. That is deliberate. In this part of the world,
kinship relations offer a crucial clue to how such expressions are owned.
Chapter Five suggested that kinsfolk own that part of the person that is an
index of their relationship; here I stress a related point. When people are
identi¬ed as members of kin groups, these groups are being de¬ned by the
interest they have in their members™ reproductive capacity; they own persons
through the perpetuation of the identity (e.g., name, insignia) that the person
carries for them. More universally, we can talk of such persons as owning a
reproductive interest in other persons. This is what axiomatically divides kin
from non-kin, non-kin by de¬nition having no such interest. I now wish to
argue that what people can own in such persons is also what they can own in
artefacts, namely, regenerative capacity.
A case can be made for considering a range of tangible as well as intangible
artefacts here, including ornaments and decorations, although I particularly
have in mind items that circulate in exchange relations. These may be genera-
tive in the weak sense of creating or sustaining relationship, but they may also
be regarded as capable of magically multiplying themselves, as root crops in
the ground multiply. The owner™s own regenerative capacity is demonstrated
to the extent that he or she exercises the power to reproduce the artefact. That
in turn, the ownability of something, becomes one of its attributes. A case
can also be made for claiming that these particular conditions have broad
currency across Papua New Guinea. And although the data presented so far
have been largely historical, they are not out of place in understanding much
contemporary practice. Omie may have dropped anie and ma™i ma™i from the
way they think about one another, but they are very much concerned about
the form that various ˜cultural expressions™ take, including songs.
Items such as songs circulate readily between persons and groups.24 And
across Papua New Guinea they may do so precisely because of the mystical
burden they carry in reference to fertility and potency. It is widely the case that
although these forms of expression are in one sense detachable from persons,
their reference to persons is emphatically part of their value. In other words,

the origin of an artefact in the lives of others contributes to its distinctiveness
and importance. Conversely, it demonstrates the reproductive power of those
lives; the transferral of the right of possession is at once an example and a sign
of such.
This description (Leach 2000: 66“7, paraphrased) comes from the Madang
area of Papua New Guinea:

In 1998 people in a village called Goriong decided they wanted to purchase the
tune, words and carvings of a particular Tamberan [ancestral] spirit from the
neighbouring village of Seriang. Ten men who claimed to be the descendants of
the originator of the spirit voice went to receive payment. The Goriong purchasers
called each by name and placed money and other items in his hands, as well as
handing over a live pig. The men took the pig back to Seriang, cooked it and
distributed it among the villagers. Thus the transfer of the spirit voice was made

The transaction enabled the Goriong to sing and dance in the name of this
spirit. Because they had made a payment, they became entitled to pass it on in
turn and pro¬t from the payments it would bring them. This contrasts with
situations in which someone may ask permission to use a song or dance but
acquires only use-rights, and not the right to be called an owner as the Goriong
were now entitled to be. In the process, the Seriang lost nothing: they could
still use the Tamberan (ancestral spirit) voice for their own celebrations.25
What is important is that the songs are rendered in a way that keeps their
integrity. They evoke memories of the dead and are highly charged for their
original owners, and the new owners should do nothing to defame or mock
the Tamberan spirit.26
The form eventually displayed may thus be an original and a derivative
at the same time. The new owners acknowledge the source from which the
Tamberan voice came, for it is a Tamberan originating at a particular place that
they dance and sing. Transactions at the moment of transfer not only secure
the release of the practices for use but multiply its origins; both those who
had it and the those who obtained it may be considered sources of the new
practices, even if not to the same degree. Beyond these originators, what is also
brought into being are multiple destinations for the creation, in the people
who will witness the display. The propagation of objects means attachment to
new people (Demian 2001 ).
That such items can be transacted introduces a further possibility in the
reproduction of persons: other people™s generative power can be appropriated
for oneself. So there is a form of generativity that can be transferred indepen-
dent of the propagation of an ˜originary™ group. In addition to the logic of

same-sex af¬liation (if the same power is replicated over and over again, so
too is reference to its origin) is the logic of dual parenthood. When origins are
divided between persons, there need be no end to the process of division, to
the number of borrowings and transfers that are recalled, although it is likely
that distant antecedents will drop off. For interest is not just in the things
acquired through transactions; explicit value is put on maintaining ¬‚ow itself
(Wagner 1977). Borrowing, sharing and exchanging are all effected through
payments; keeping the ¬‚ow going acquires generative connotations of its own.
An ability to release generativity is bound up in the right to pass things on to


Intellectual Products?
The comparisons with intellectual property are becoming evident. I have been
accumulating instances from this Melanesian material in which one might
draw parallels with items that in Euro-American legal regimes can become
subject to intellectual property protection. In addition to songs and names,
we have encountered carvings, performance, moral rights (in the integrity of
a piece of work), personal images or emblems and could even regard groups
as having a proprietary identity to protect. Although they are made visible
and manifest, many depend on performance to be so, so that they only appear
for a while and in the interim exist as memories of designs, patterns and
movements. Moreover, there are contexts in which control over reproduction
is restricted. It is not surprising that copyright is often taken as a model for
the protection of cultural property (Coombe 1998; Brown 2003).
The Papua New Guinean lawyer Kalinoe (2000) notes one bias that copyright
would introduce. When contemporary artists draw on traditional art forms,
such as Tamberan songs, copyright would appear to be the means to protect
their artistic expressions. But although copyright declares their originality,
as it is often said it does not deal with the other side of the equation “ the
simultaneously derivative nature of the work and its multiple origins.27
However, all this draws too quick a comparison between indigenous pro-
tocols governing the transmission and transaction of performances, artefacts
and so forth, and regimes seeking to protect the products of intellectual work.
We have already seen that loss of custom nowadays may be glossed as loss of
(traditional/cultural) knowledge. It may be necessary to scrape off that gloss.
Kalinoe (2000) has argued the case for considering the protection of various
items of value, especially the class that he calls sacred (such as those with

ancestral value, ancestral not because they are antique but because it is the
living presence of ancestors in their descendants that guarantees continuity of
inner power). Signi¬cantly, his proposal is that these should be treated, for le-
gal purposes, simply as property “ emphatically not as intellectual property.28
This is worth pursuing.
The ethnographic record from Melanesia could have supplied many ex-
amples to convey the substance of the data presented here. Most notably, all
the items just mentioned (songs, names, carvings, performance, moral rights,
emblems, proprietary identity) could be bundled up in the single instance of
Malanggan carvings in New Ireland and their accompanying displays, intro-
duced in Chapter Four.29 The instance would be doubly germane in respect
to the designs worked on the carvings themselves, in that the way these ¬gures
are guarded from unauthorised imitation has compelled observers “ as we
saw “ to use the vocabulary of intellectual property rights. Malanggan ¬gures
would also summarise some of the other features we have found. They recall
the inner and outer bodies of the Murik in that the New Ireland carving is
prototypically regarded as an external body for the departed presence of a
deceased person whose potency is retained within. They echo the emergence
of the Omie child/grandfather, for the sculpture gives an imagistic form to
the name of an ancestor that, detached from the deceased™s body, can then be
passed on to an heir.30 They point to the general difference between a history
of exchanges and current ownership (the carved plane refers to the former and
the painted patterns on it to the latter), and to a consistent orientation toward
the future, in that the designs re¬‚ect anticipated claims for which the recipients
make payments. Above all, the image is owned by, retained in the memory of,
those who have the right to reproduce it.31 But the one issue I wish to bring
forward is K¨ chler™s comment, ˜Melanesia is a particularly clear example of
a culture within which intellectual property is not an analogue of material
property™ (1999: 63). Given the mix of tangible and intangible items here, we
might well ask what she means by that. The answer will open up the question
of whether it is useful, in fact, to think of any of them as intellectual products.
The context of the remark is a discussion (begun by Harrison 1992; 1995)
about the nature of mental resources in Euro-American societies of ˜the mod-
ern industrial economy™, which lay stress on ˜material resources and productive
capacity™ (K¨ chler 1999: 62). The reproduction of mental products is here gov-
erned by a legal system in which intangible efforts have to be embodied in
things for rights to be exercised over them. The contrast is with regimes, as in
Melanesia, which have the kind of approach to the ¬‚ow of information enunci-
ated by Araho. K¨ chler describes intermittent Malanggan performances over
a person™s lifespan as part of ˜a shared knowledge technology [that] assures the
continuing generative and reproductive capacity of its intangible resources™

(1999: 63). She is referring the planned ephemerality of items produced for
display, where (in her words) ownership centres less on the object as a material
product than on the right to project or produce an image out of a repertoire of
soon-to-be absent images. Particularly true of the Malanggan carvings, what
is created to be passed on is not the thing itself (which is destroyed) but ˜an
inherently recallable image™. Her principal point is that the image is created as
a mental resource precisely through the disappearance of the object.
K¨ chler arrives thus at a very speci¬c de¬nition of the mental, rather to
one side of the Euro-American notion of intellectual creation that frequently
informs the related concept of the intangible. My understanding is that the
Malanggan image is indeed created as a resource, but is it a mental one in this
second sense? Her phrase ˜knowledge technology™ is a pointer here.
As a resource it is an entity that can be reproduced again, often a generation
hence, by the way it is recalled. So the knowledge in question is the memory
that holds the image in people™s mind. Another way of putting this would be
to say that knowledge becomes a means to further reproduction (rather than
an end in itself), the image being held in suspension, an outcome of what was
seen in the original display when the rights were acquired or recon¬rmed.
Is the image in this sense inert? The mind (memory) of the holder“owner
houses it as a kind of body part almost; while it may animate the person, the
image as such is not affected by its location. It is perhaps not too extreme
to suggest that being in the mind confers no further attributes or identity
on the image; its mental or intellectual or intangible condition does not add
anything. Although the image that is eventually reproduced will be negotiated
from various anticipated claims on it, the holder“owner is not supposed to
innovate on what he or she recalls. Indeed, that is heavily frowned upon. The
end or aim, I infer, is the eventual reproduction of the memory as an image
that is also a body, not as knowledge.
In other words, there is nothing particularly ˜intellectual™ about the fact
that the image, like the words of a song or the design of an ornament, is a
mental one,32 and there is nothing to be gained in separating out a class of
intellectual property. This also means we might be wary of those contexts
in which knowledge is too easily brought forward as a gloss for intangible
objects. It is at least worth hypothesising that such regimes treat knowledge
practices as a means, literally as practices, not as an end or as objects with
value to circulate.

Ownership of Persons?
Harrison and K¨ chler™s contrast between regimes holds, but we can add a
proviso. Whether or not rights in these Melanesian forms of expression are

treated as material property depends on what is material about property. Recall
that the starting point of the discussion was the Euro-American presumption
that intangible efforts must be embodied in material things for them to be
apprehended as property in the ¬rst place (see Sherman and Bently 1999: 47;
Bainbridge 1999: 45).
I return to the exegesis offered by Davies and Naf¬ne and their interest in
modern renditions of Hegel™s forms of appropriation:

Hegel argues that in becoming a person one must put oneself into the external
world and then reappropriate the self through the appropriation of objects in
the world. Taking the world unto ourselves is our method of completing our
subjectivity and individuality, because it involves the purely subjective person
externalising their personality and re-grasping it in the form of an external object.
Davies and Naf¬ne 2001 : 4; and see Miller 1995

Hence, ˜[p]roperty is seen as an extension of the person and as a means by
which the person can relate freely and transparently with others. Property is
seen to mediate our social relationships™ (Davies & Naf¬ne 2001 : 6). Drawing
in particular on the work of Radin (1993, 1996) for her advocacy of ˜property
for personhood™, Davies and Naf¬ne quote her observation that in order ˜to
achieve proper self-development “ to be a person “ an individual needs some
control over resources in the external environment™ (2001 : 7). The property
that a person uses in their self-construction, they go on to say, is in effect
a relationship to an external thing that contributes to ˜a person™s feelings of
well-being, freedom, and identity™.33
If property relations are part of the way in which people in modern indus-
trial economies (Euro-American, that is) connect to the world, then they must
both shape and take the shape of the way the world is perceived. To the extent
that the world is thought of an assemblage of material things, it follows that
property can only be claimed over material things. Property in this view is the
condition of appropriating things from the world.
It also follows that an idea can only be claimed as an expression of a person™s
exertions and intellect when it is found in a ˜thing™.34 A more generalised
version of this is that any human activity, including bodily exertion, can ¬nd
expression in external things but by being embodied in something else is
expressed in a condensed and abstracted (conceptual) form. For example,
labour manifests an immediate bodily capacity, but what is incorporated in
the products of labour is an abstraction, as when it is theorised (categorised)
as ˜labour power™ in terms of social usefulness. However, there is a special
in¬‚ection to mental activity, for the exercise of the intellect is closely associated
with the exercise of the will, the distinguishing mark, in this Euro-American
world view, of personhood (see Davies and Naf¬ne 2001 : 104). The idea that

must be incorporated in an artefact (thing) before it can be legally owned
renders the mind™s effects as separate from the body™s, exactly as the individual™s
will is given expression and realised in a world separate from him or her. In
short, in this view, inner energy is projected onto the world that returns
evidence of it to its originator, as signs of the person (creative, productive
outcomes of personal activity).
This line of thinking hardly needs further rehearsal. The point to draw from
it is that we are not dealing with a simple contrast between owning things as
material objects and the kind of situation (as described for Melanesia) in
which there is no such restriction of materiality in the ¬‚ow of assets. Rather,
we might see in the Euro-American insistence on intangibles that can only
be owned as embodied in concrete things something of a comparable repro-
ductive moment. What is being reproduced? Minimally, what is reproduced
is the self and its view on the world. This is true over and again. And it ap-
plies equally to that part of the external world that involves other persons;
whatever encounters there are with social others, the reactions they elicit
are absorbed back into the individual as its own feelings and sentiments. In
other words, this (Euro-American) form of materiality is the condition under
which perspective, a person™s point of view, creates an object (out there). We
could conclude that what is material about property relations is a function of
an epistemological grasp of the world, that is, of knowing it as an object (of con-
templation, say). The contrast is with the kind of perspectivism that creates the
If anything like this (Amazonian) perspectivism holds in Melanesia,
perhaps through it we can concomitantly imagine what is material about
the processes of Melanesian reproduction. Perspective becomes an ontologi-
cal way of being that alters the condition of the person (˜creates the subject™)
so that everything in the perceived world (tangible or intangible) de¬nes and
contributes to that state of being.
Now if property, in the sense of the capacity to appropriate, is part of how
Euro-Americans reproduce themselves, so too is knowledge. For what has to
be returned to the self comes both as things for bodily consumption and as
abstract qualities that enhance the equally abstract self, which is exactly where
knowledge belongs. Knowledge of the world is a powerful means of connection
to it (distinction from it). Yet, as we have already seen, for Euro-Americans it is
much more than a means: knowledge about the world is returned to the person
who already knows enough to seek it. Its end in fashioning subjectivity makes
it something of an end in itself. For the mind reappropriates that connection
to the world as intangibles appropriate to how it (the mind) is thought of itself
(as so many thoughts, concepts, percepts, scapes, perspectives, and so forth).
I am, obviously, speaking both culturally and synthetically.

As a consequence, Euro-Americans do value certain things as outcomes of
the intellect. It does matter that there is a mental or intangible dimension to
the products of that body location we think of as the mind. The translation
from idea or effort into material object and back again marks the bound-
aries of the person. The corollary is that one cannot have property in those
generative powers themselves, in the mental processes, because that would
be tantamount to claiming property in persons. In liberal (industrial/Euro-
American) societies, people cannot own other people™s capacities as such (see
Gray 1991 : 299“300 for a different rendering). It is exactly the intangible nature
of their mental processes that protects people from people. Property rights can
only be exercised in relation to things in the world, and intellectual property
can only apply to material objects that re-embody such intangible processes
in things. In these views, creativity is not axiomatically embodied in the body,
but is found either in the mind, on the one hand, or, on the other, in exactly
those things in the world.35
The Melanesian data have pointed to people conceiving of owning what
can also be transmitted and exchanged by virtue of being embodied. That
embodiment is, however, in persons before it is in things (that stand for
relations between persons). Persons are bestowed with human capacities and
regenerative powers, such as the strength or life force that as a name, for
example, becomes redistributable after death. Thus the Malanggan name is
given form as an image that is itself considered to be generative (K¨ chler 1999:
66), in a quasi-procreative sense, and is passed on (transmitted and sold) in the
form of rights to reproduce, to duplicate, the original. But one might wonder
whether in the Melanesian case also it is the right not the potency that is
owned and transmitted. This would be to ignore the lengths to which people
go to turn potency into a visible and appropriatable phenomenon (Demian
2004).36 It would also ignore a crucial difference.
The Melanesian ˜right™ to reproduce is sustained not by a legal apparatus
but by the person being in the appropriate and necessary ontological state to
exercise the right: sister™s son, heir, purchaser, initiate or whatever (Kalinoe
2000). Moreover, the very exercise of the right is an instance of what it confers.
Making duplicates is (to reproduce) the capacity for creation. Euro-Americans,
on the other hand, value the right as having if not legal then moral or ethical
sanction, and it is this value that allows its exercise to the bene¬t of the
holder. The source of creativity is not passed on; that is left intact in the person
of the original author or inventor.37 We come back to the Euro-American
signi¬cance of ˜intellect™. Once embodied in a thing, mental processes can have
further generative force only by being processed freshly (by the originator or
by another) through someone™s mind.

I have been deploying the term used by several writers, property, although
we may ask what is propertied about the kinds of Euro-American ownership
relations being considered here. One answer has to be that the holder of prop-
erty rights and the subject of legal rights run together. The counterpart to the
speci¬c material thing in which efforts are embodied is the concrete person
who can be a bearer of rights. (Rights are intangible before they are realised.)
Personal concreteness is given form through individuality (see Sherman and
Bently 1999 for a different rendering), so we arrive at the further well re-
hearsed point that exclusive interests de¬ne the individual™s sphere of activi-
ties. What is enshrined in the law is emphasised by contingent values that lie
outside it:

Property in things other than oneself has been said to enhance personhood,
because it establishes an extended sphere of non-interference with one™s per-
son. . . . Property and personhood have also been linked in a more intimate man-
ner by the assertion that persons may also be said to have property in themselves.
[Contingently] [c]ommon to both approaches has been a desire to show how
property interests express and secure the autonomy of the individual and hence
their very personhood.
Davies and Naf¬ne 2001 : 6

The arithmetic here “ the singular, recursive character of the origins of a
person™s actions in that very person “ is evident.

Single and Multiple Origins
Davies and Naf¬ne (2001 : 99) observe that the law “ English, Australian,
American, European law “ ˜fails to supply a sensible, credible understanding
of our embodied selves™. The concept of the legal person cannot cope, for
instance, with pregnant women or with the body at death. One of the problems,
I would add, is that it cannot count. (It is not just the law; no one can.) The
reason is evident: it is the body that normally bestows indivisibility on the
person. So the law is baf¬‚ed by a body within a body; it does not know how
many persons a pregnant woman is, and resolution in terms of parts and
wholes pleases no one.38 In short, ˜the possessive legal individual is rendered
incoherent by the cultural and biological facts of reproduction™ (2001 : 92).
Death creates a different problem, which is that the person™s will lives on in
disembodied form (in their testimonies and documents), and its wishes have
to be given a ¬nite life. The law has to kill off this disembodied personality,
an uncanny echo of the way some Melanesians have to kill the (memory
of) the dead through deliberate forgetting, by rendering the deceased absent

(Battaglia 1990). However, there seems a swifter resolution to the number of
persons there now are because with the departure of the rational, sovereign
will from the corpse, the authors argue, lawyers ¬nd little of the person there
and tend to treat the corpse as a thing. But this brings its own anxieties about
others, the deceased™s relatives among them, laying claims to it.
I return to the numbers in a moment. First I note that the possessive in
the ˜possessive individual™ (famously after McPherson 1962) refers to the si-
multaneous condition of being a proprietor and of being property as a result
of having property in oneself, that is, a cultural contingency as far as the
law is concerned. In some views, that property in oneself (self-ownership)
is the guarantee of the freedom with which the will is exercised.39 As noted
at the outset, one philosophical justi¬cation is that insofar as persons own
themselves, no one else can own them. The Melanesian material suggests that
we parse the question about property through a more general question about
embodiment. (Questions about persons and property thereby disappear from
the account.)
Insofar as no one else can own what is self-owned, then, persons must
be embodied either in themselves, that is, their own persons, or in artefacts,
that is, external objects, but not in other persons. (The view that creativity
regarded as a product of the intellect is embodied in the mind rather the body,
rendering the body other to the mind, plays on an internal division of the
person into self and other.) It is embodiment in things of the world that lays
the conditions for property rights and for all the equivocations Davies and
Naf¬ne voice about the way people want to use the language of property rights
for self-embodiment as well.
I have already noted a peculiarity about this Euro-American form of em-
bodiment, that the incorporation of a person™s efforts into things does not
render those things person-like. On the contrary, they are detached from the
generative or creative potential that remains within the person. The person
has produced out of him- or herself an entity that now exists autonomously
in the world as a ˜thing™. If the claims through property are to keep those
things within the person™s orbit, they must rest on a reconceptualisation of
the productive process consonant with the ˜antinomy between objects and
subjects of ownership . . . [meaning that] subjectivity cannot reside in objects,
as such, nor objectivity in subjects, as such™ (Barron 1998: 55). The connec-
tion is simple. The producer is being imagined as the origin of the product.
Conversely, there can be no property claim to a work (the reference is to
copyright) ˜without some author who can be said to originate it™ (1998: 55).
Once imagined thus, there is no need to demonstrate anything more com-
plex. This is the burden of Barron™s explanation of how the Australian courts

ever came to endorse copyright in an ancestral design. All that was necessary
was to show that it was the artist and no one else who refashioned the de-
sign. She writes (1998: 56), ˜in law, originality is simply the description of a
causal relationship between a person and a thing™. It follows, in this view, that
the law is less concerned with establishing the nature of creativity than with
determining whether this or that person can demonstrate that he or she was
the originator. Other claimants may of course be potential ones or exist as
anticipated competitors, but they are the absent multitude against which any
one person asserts originality.
There is no need to repeat the point that Euro-Americans equate sources
of potency with an origin in the person as a singular entity, and the person is
in this respect literally indivisible. It further follows that origins (in the sense
pursued here) cannot be divided. What then do we make of the arithmetic in
the observation that the Australian artist was ˜an individual of several persons™
(Barron 1998: 45, quoting Saunders and Hunter 1991 ). Anthropologically, I
would put it that the Euro-American ˜individual™ is the person in its indivisible,
embodied state, here taken for granted. The several persons correspond to the
different social positions the artist holds. Barron lists them: author of the work
(a legal status), a skilled artist (by reputation), an honoured citizen of Australia
and local hero (acknowledged by the Northern Territory Government who had
purchased his work), a successful entrepreneur (known through his dealings),
as well as an Aboriginal person (whom some felt had desecrated a ritual object)
and a member of a clan (whose ancestors were involved). To his legal status,
then, were added many other possible statuses on which he could act. They
are contingent to the law; nonetheless such positions affect the way the law™s
justice is perceived. This echoes the claims currently being made in relation to
intellectual property rights elsewhere, which is how to acknowledge all those
multiple others who participate in the productive process, except that here the
multiple others are aspects of the one individual. Origins are singular, even
when there are many of them.

Applied Maths
Now the (Euro-American) view on the world that creates the world as ob-
ject and the viewing self as subject generates a problem as far as other per-
sons are concerned: what should be done with everyone else “ how should
they be counted? If that problem is among those still driving the extended
Enlightenment project of ˜making society™, let me comment on a tiny move-
ment within it. Property offers one obvious solution: keep others at bay. There
are two related solutions. The ¬rst is rendering one person as several persons,

as in the case of the artist. The second is sustaining a division between what is
essential and what is contingent, for this allows several persons to be involved
in producing things, and even to seek acknowledgement and reward, without
being co-owners of the primary rights in the thing concerned.
Rendering one person as several persons abstracts or categorises the notion
of person in terms of roles and statuses, and there may be as many of these as
there are social niches. They can be added to over and again. But they do not
add up. A glance at Barron™s list shows that they are not commensurate entities,
that the list is in¬nite (can be broken down into countless parts) and that the
principal form of coherence is the individual™s biography (an embodied life). A
person moves between different domains as different persons; they overlap but
that is all. This is equally true of the claims that are made to acknowledge co-
workers who are not co-owners in a creative process. There may be a division
of labour between all those involved in producing a book “ the publisher, the
binder, the printer and so forth “ but each has competence in his or her own
sphere or domain, which means that he or she can deploy the same skills for
numerous other books as well. In every instance, they add their skills to the
author™s, but the contribution of each remains discrete and recognisable in the
publication, the binding or whatever. A similar additive perception of multiple
workers allows scienti¬c investigators to build on one another™s work so that
they can distinguish the unique efforts of a team of inventors, who may publish
as co-authors, from either the contingent technicians, funders and others
necessary to the outcome or else the work of antecedent or competitive teams
to which the inventors add the essential original input. This arithmetic enables
multiple other persons to be recognised as inhabiting the same world without
compromising anyone™s unique perspective. Everyone has his or her own
unique perspective, that is, is the originator of a singular view, and knowledge
of this fact allows one to be added to another without expectation of closure
or summation.
Another way of putting it is to say that however many others inhabit one™s
world in this Euro-American view, and however many specialised or exclusive
domains there are in which one operates, every pointer of one™s activity points
to oneself. All that can be said is that the perspectives overlap; the signs do not
change. It was one of the discoveries of twentieth century anthropology40 that,
by contrast, in many social regimes people imagine ¬nite worlds in which there
is a kind of division of labour between persons that stresses the dependency of
each person™s status on that of others. A shift of perspective does change the
signs. An extreme example is exempli¬ed in what we have learnt by applying
the insights of Amazonian perspectivism to Papua New Guinean divisions
between persons.

I return to the Melanesian formulation that being a son propels one into a
different world from that one inhabits as a sister™s son. In the world created
between a son and his father, and I take a canonical example in a male voice,
the mother™s brother may be identi¬ed with his sister as a male mother. When
someone instead acts as a sister™s son (toward his mother™s brothers) his own
father is still in that world, he has not disappeared, but the signs have changed.
The values put on the relationship are different. The father now appears (say)
as an in-law to the mother™s brother. The world alters not simply because the
son comes to see his father through different eyes (his mother™s brother™s) but
because the mother™s brother has made a different subject out of him. He is
now the son not of his father but of his mother™s brother™s sister™s husband.
This is hardly an alteration of perspective that the person can will into being.
It is an ontological switch effected through the being and presence of the other
relative.41 One cannot in this situation ˜add™ other persons; new individuals
become assimilated to positions already given. Another kind of mathematics
is called for, one that describes the equations by which different sets of signs
appear. The limitation of this perspectivism is that all one can do is change
the signs; if one is not this, one is that.42
The Murik men and women who give different values to adopted and dead
children or the Omie assimilating the boy to his grandfather are not confused
about how many persons there are or to what generation people belong. To
the extent that this kind of mathematics applies, the point is that there is no
ultimate or single origin. Persons, subject positions, are created by the relations
in which they must engage (Leach 2003). When, as they do, people emphasise
speci¬c origins or roots, this is to select particular relationships out of many,
prioritising one over others. To use language appropriate to the Australian
artist™s copyright suit, for example, Barron (1998: 50, after Morphy 1991 ; cf.
Kalinoe 2004) notes the different kinds of rights kin have in one another™s
ancestral designs. Thus someone may have the right to reproduce a painting
from his mother™s clan, or indeed from his mother™s mother™s clan, and will be
consulted by them when they reproduce their own, even though his origins in
that clan do not give him the rights that descendants of the father can claim. It
is not a contingent or a subsidiary authority, but one that manifests a distinct
order of relationships by which the person is owned.
Imagining how copyright ownership could be mapped onto Aboriginal
concepts of clan ownership of images and designs, Barron (1998: 72) observes:

even if it could, the uni¬cation of copyright ownership in a single entity, albeit
a collective one, would not mirror the distribution of rights among individual
members of the clan [in their relations with members of other clans].

A judge, trying to convey how very ˜other™ Aboriginal concepts were from
those found in the law of property, concluded a famous land claims case43
with the remark he could have found in more than one anthropological text
(and reduplicated in Murik ornaments and Omie emblems), namely, that the
clan belongs to the land rather than the land belongs to the clan (quoted
in Barron 1998: 54). The same could be said of sacred paintings. An artist
belongs to the painting rather than the painting to the artist. For a painting
executed in reference to ancestral images contains within itself its conditions
of reproduction: like the Malanggan, it shows in its very designs who has the
right to paint it. You have to be a person in an appropriate relationship to
others who also have claims (not necessarily the same as yours) and who thus
have claims over you. In this manner, the design authorises the painter.

It is exactly this kind of modulation of authority with which the Director of
the Papua New Guinea National Cultural Commission has been concerned
(Simet 2000; 2001 b) in relation to the Model Law on protection of cultural
property in the Paci¬c.44 This directive makes a case for setting up protection
mechanisms outside intellectual property regimes, but it does so by insisting
on the absolute claims of ˜traditional owners™.45 These are identi¬ed as groups.
In implying they are singular in nature, and by implication homogeneous, it
addresses the problem of collective ownership in terms that remain famil-
iar counterfactuals to Euro-American private property thinking: ˜community
ownership™, ˜communal moral rights™, ˜cultural [as opposed to economic] or
communal rights™.46 The radical issue presented by the data from Papua New
Guinea and Aboriginal Australia is how to accommodate multiple rights when
they derive from incommensurable orders of relationship.
Simet observes of Tolai (PNG) (2000: 78):

One idea which might easily form part of the development of a mechanism for pro-
tection of indigenous knowledge is the assumption that all traditional knowledge
is communally owned. [In fact] . . . people were very particular about acquisition,
ownership, transfer, protection and use of knowledge. Only some kinds of knowl-
edge belonged to the public domain, while the rest belonged to individuals and
social groups.

He goes on to explain (Simet 2001b) that Tolai individuals and groups are
enmeshed in diverse relations with one another. A telling example is the way in
which the signs of a clan™s identity are distributed between its masks (tubuan)

and the magic (palawat) that makes the masks effective vehicles of power. The
tubuan is held by a clan member who acts as manager for the clan; the palawat
is held by a non-member, who acts as a custodian on behalf of the clan and
deploys the magic on its behalf. Clan members cannot use their own magic
These groups and individuals are not the ˜several persons™ of Enlighten-
ment arrangements of society. Persons exercise different kinds of authority
depending on the relations that summon them, and they are made into dif-
ferent persons in the course of it. So contrasting types of multiplicity come
into view. If we talk of multiple origins in relation to Euro-American works,
then multiplicity comes from the way persons are added to one another™s
enterprises. If we talk of multiple origins in relation to their Melanesian coun-
terparts, then multiplicity comes from the way people divide themselves from
one another. Singularity (individuality) is an outcome not an origin.
This attempt at a comparison exposes an asymmetry. Some might ¬nd the
substance of intellectual property issues in certain systems at odds with, as
too contingent to, attention to kinship in others. I am not comparing like
with like. Quite so. Precisely because the focus is on the things people produce
in the one case, and on the persons they produce in the other, I am drawn
to the parallel. Very differently construed as they are, one can nonetheless
compare ideas of ownership imagined in intellectual property regimes with
Melanesian notions of owning persons through kin ties. That is not where
the asymmetry is. Asymmetry emerges if one takes what appears super¬cially
similar. For if one looks closely, it is the kinship in the Euro-American case that
appears fundamentally at odds with the Melanesian kinship material. What
seems so similar, the concerns with ancestry, blood relations and the rest of
it, not to speak of concerns with how children grow unblemished, is never
quite in balance with comparable Melanesian notions. And that is because of
the speci¬c nature of the ambiguities at the heart of Euro-American kinship.
(Other systems turn on other ambiguities.)
Davies and Naf¬ne™s observation about the way embodiment is treated in
Western law sum up the ambiguities in question. The arena of family and kin
relations is a prime place where the Euro-American arithmetic that creates
distinct objects and singular originators is at once formed and confounded.
Beside the creation of the individual person and of families as units, kin are
also bound up with one another in dependencies that make counting dif¬cult,
where belonging is a kind of ownership but not quite, where persons both are
and are not embodied in other persons, and where notions of property can
only introduce complicating rather than simplifying factors.

I am grateful for the invitation from the Critical Theory Institute, University of
California at Irvine, to lecture in the 2002 series, Futures of Property and Person-
hood, and for stimulating discussions. Conversations with Eduardo Viveiros
de Castro started this topic off; without the interest of colleagues from Papua
New Guinea, notably Lawrence Kalinoe, Andrew Moutu and Jacob Simet,
there would have been less incentive to continue. Anne Barron, James Leach,
Alain Pottage and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro all kindly read a draft, and I
thank Marta Rohatynskyj for her generous comments.

part i: introduction: divided origins
1. An explanation of the gloss of the more usual Western as Euro-American can be
found in Edwards et al. 1999: 15“17. ˜American™ here derives from North America,
˜European™ from Northern Europe, but Euro-American in¬‚uence is neither con¬ned
to these parts nor uniform within them (it has global spread, is locally patchy). I
refer to a discourse not a people, although I personify the discourse in referring to its
˜speakers™ as Euro-Americans. The awkward term is meant to summon those whose
cosmologies were formed by the religious and rationalist upheavals of the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries across Northern Europe, creating present-day America in
their wake.
2. Miller says that he has often joked that much psychoanalytic theory about the forma-
tion of the early child sounds like the formation of the early parent, that the steps that
the child follows mark the steps of the parent™s delight, perplexities and sense of dan-
ger. ˜The stages of development described by Klein [for instance] are not really about
infants at all. Instead they describe the various stages which a parent goes through in
order to develop as a mature parent™ (1997: 67). It is the parent who sees the child as
the good breast and bad breast, at once utterly wonderful and utterly appalling™.
3. I have made previous, rather similar, use of the notion of a tool in work arising from
the PTC project mentioned in the Preface. The tool there (Strathern, 2004c) is the
concept of ˜transaction™, a condensed de¬nition of exchange relations of a kind useful
largely for cutting, as in cutting through data; it belongs to and serves a rather narrow
range of anthropological interests. In its generic form, here the tool I have in mind is
as much like a function of the brain or like a body part as the artefact it also is. It is
an implement for separating/holding parts of itself/things from one another/together
(the sentence can be read in two ways, as indicated by the italics threading through
one of them), a capacity for analysing (at once creating and handling) social
4. In lieu of the Old English tool, Rabinow™s (2003) more sonorous and certainly more
erudite sense of equipment, which I have since come across, searches for a continental
toolkit of concepts for modern times.
5. Dovetailing science and kinship in this manner deploys anthropology™s relation at
various moments.

164 NOTES TO PAGES 11“18

6. If this were a history one would no doubt be looking to numerous theological and
ecclesiastical antecedents. If they are there, then perhaps this is a re-invention.

chapter 1: relatives are always a surprise: biotechnology
in an age of individualism
1. ˜Public opinion™ is an elusive concept. For a European attempt to access public opinion,
as initiated by anthropologists, see Lundin and Ideland 1997. P´ lsson and Har‚ardottir
(2002) analysed newspaper reactions to the Icelandic biogenetic project, following
the ¬rst bill on the Health Sector Database.
2. The reader may take ˜we™ and ˜us™ to refer to any one whose interests will have made
them turn to the topic of this book. Yet if we are de¬ned by shared concerns, that
does not mean our perspectives are identical.
3. The case is from the United States. Non-parental visiting rights, including those of
grandparents, have been the subject of legislation in most U.S. states so this is a bit of
rhetoric on my part (Dolgin 2002: 371). It is always a hazard selecting particular cases
from what is likely to be a whole gamut of potential circumstances and outcomes; one
should also be aware of the special place that litigation carries in U.S. domestic life,
and the special nature of arguments put forward in a court context. However, the two
principal sources for this and other U.S. cases, Dolgin and Finkler, may be consulted
for their own oversight of a wider scene. Their work enables the grandparents™ suit
to be put into the context of a range of similar and dissimilar cases being considered
by the courts at about the same time.
4. Much of the case was to do with the constitutional argument about the extent to
which the state could interfere in family life. Dolgin reports a confused and con¬‚ictual
situation across the courts and among judges.
5. The individualism of members being separately autonomous to pursue their own
choices; see Chapter Three for a brief reference to Dolgin™s arguments about family
6. That is, the individualism of parental choice. Although choice is over the kind of
relations one wishes with others (parents in respect of children), the source of choice
is held to inhere in the parent™s wishes and desires as an autonomous subject. One
judge in the Washington grandparents™ case invoked the ˜fundamental right™ of parents
˜to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children™ (quoted
at Dolgin 2002: 390).
7. Not just in the general sense that everything one does contributes to what one is but
because of the charged nature of techniques in relation to reproduction and the care
of early life (see Alderson 2002).
8. Procedures in the United Kingdom for obtaining a woman™s consent for use of fetal
tissue (in research, after an abortion) explicitly prevent the woman from making any
statement of preference about how she would like to see the tissue used (see Nuf¬eld
2000: 9).
9. A central theme in the general discussions of assisted conception techniques that ac-
companied Australian arguments over stem cell research in 2001 “2002. Monitoring
disease and disability, for example, through pre-implantation (genetic) diagnosis, is
another matter. The ethicist Savulescu interviewed by The Age, 19 June 2002, com-
mented that many genes have nothing to do with the diseases by which advancement
in gene research is often justi¬ed.

10. Public discussions about surrogacy in the 1990s are a case in point. The United
Kingdom distinguished itself from the United States on the grounds of forbidding
commercialisation, although the range of public opinion on that very issue (commer-
cialism) was almost identical on both sides of the Atlantic. (As for commercialisation
being ˜un-British™, the Sunday Age [9 June 2002] quoted an ethicist to the effect that
paying IVF donors for their eggs would be un-Australian.)
11. This antinomy is part of an enduring Euro-American con¬guration (on diverse
Euro-American in¬‚ections of altruism, Strathern 1992b: Chapter 6). I do not use the
word altruism in its evolutionary psychology sense, for the way others are enrolled
into the individual™s projects for survival, but in terms of the capacity to put oneself
into another™s shoes and thus in the more general sense of social responsiveness.
12. But the case should not be overstated. Reponses to a U.K. consultation (HGAC 1998)
on cloning issues had an emphatic 80% saying ˜no™ to the idea that the creation of a
clone of a human being would be ethically acceptable. The same respondents were
divided over the question, ˜To what extent can a person be said to have a right to
an individual genetic identity?™ Forty-one percent thought they had this right while
50% queried the question on the grounds of the case of identical twins, objecting
that identity is always more than genetic (context is obviously important). Savill
(2002: 44) notes legal observations to the effect that the distinctive genotype of a
fetus bestows individuality on it even while it is in the mother™s womb.
13. As against the view, born of beliefs about genetic determinism, that there will be a
decline in personal responsibility for behaviour and even ˜the loss of individualism™
voiced by the social philosopher Fukuyama (The Australian 27 May 2002). Biotech-
nology has us think more about these things, though one should not dismiss those
who dismiss others (such as the researcher who, apropos debate over patenting hu-
man genetic material, referred slightingly to ˜ethics and other irrelevant concerns™
(quoted in Nelkin and Andrews 1998: 55)).
14. Not to play down the need here: Finkler tells of the distress caused by people not
¬nding out early enough about what their close relatives ailed from (2000: 122“26).
15. However, the privacy of the individual with regard to his or her medical history or
genetic information (central to Dolgin™s interest in ˜genetic families™) is breached by
the need that others in the family may have for it, as Chapter Three illustrates.
16. Something of a history of public reactions is given by Radick (2002); the U.K. Nuf¬eld
Council on Bioethics (2002: 22) includes a brief discussion under the rubric ˜Genes as
public property™. Justice Michael Kirby, of the High Court of Australia and member
of the International Bioethics Committee, reported on an international symposium
speci¬cally called by UNESCO in 2001 to consider intellectual property and the
human genome; this was in the context of concern that the results of genomic
sequencing should be open to free access by the general scienti¬c community.
17. And membership itself starts looking like an asset. Thus genetic heritage may be
referred to with the ambiguous double entendre of the English term ˜property™ as
˜the common property of humankind™. For an argument in favour of more explicit
propertisation, for example, of genetic resources, see Laurie (2002: ch 6). Helmreich
(2002) makes an interesting comment on the notion of the gene pool as an exploitable
18. UNESCO™s 2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity refers to ˜the unity
of humankind™ and cultural diversity as ˜common heritage of humanity™. When
that place, as the heritage of humanity, is occupied by the human genome (1997
166 NOTES TO PAGES 21“24

Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights) it adds reference
to the family (˜the fundamental unity of all members of the human family™).
19. The ruling from the Washington Superior Court, which had ¬rst tried the case,
is worth giving in full (an oral not a written deliberation). ˜The children would
be bene¬tted from spending quality time with the Petitioners [the grandparents],
provided that the time is balanced with time with the childrens™ [sic] nuclear family.
The court ¬nds that the childrens™ [sic] best interests are served by spending time
with their mother and the stepfather™s other six children™ (as cited in Dolgin 2002:
375, including brackets). The U.S. Supreme Court, with its own reasons for putting
a value on the nuclear family (to do with the mother™s authority over her children),
complained that the state trial court had favoured a family of extended kin.
20. Simpson™s ¬gures here come from U.K. Marriage and Divorce Statistics 1990, 1994,
1997, 1998 and Social Trends 1994. Over the decade 1990“2000: one divorce for every
two marriages; many people divorcing within three years of the wedding. The 2001
¬gures for Australia point to more than one third of all those remarrying as having
children by a previous marriage, although as to the popularity of marriage it should
be said that over the long term there has been a gradual decline in the crude rate of
marriage (numbers per head of population) (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002).
It is also reported that the number of de facto unions has been rising.
21. As given in the Sydney Sun Herald (23 January 2000), the statistics coming from
Australia now, a statistical pro¬le (Australian Bureau of Statistics), Household and
family projections (ABS), Births, Australia, 1998 (ABS), the Andrews Report, House of
Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, 1998.
22. Something of a corresponding ¬gure is quoted by Dolgin (2002: 344); the proportion
of children living with both ˜biological parents™ in the United States is 50%. This is
not a proper statistical or demographic comparison, and I do not want to make too
much of the ¬gures. Quite wide variation in people™s practices, both in range and
rates, sits alongside some very similar evaluations and questionings about the nature
of family life and future trends.
23. Her material documents the new prominence of the grandparent in France. Grand-
parenting has become part of networking, crucially backing up often ¬‚uid arrange-
ments at the same time as grandparents are losing their place as obvious extensions
of one or other parent. She asks, where do their obligations lie when grandchildren
come visiting with their step siblings or half siblings? One in three French marriages
end in divorce. When single fathers and mothers make new households, invariably
it is the man who enters the household of a divorced or separated woman.
24. (And pose problem for other laws, such as property inheritance.) This kind of com-
mentary has been made several times and notoriously in relation to motherhood;
note from Segalen™s account the emphasis put not on fragmentation but on
25. See for example Dolgin (2000: 537). This was a divorce action over the parentage
of twin girls conceived by egg donation; the ˜biological father™ asked for exclusive
custody as the sole genetic parent (an argument rejected by the court, who regarded
the recipient of the egg and intending mother as the ˜natural mother™ entitled to
custody, with the husband eligible for visiting rights).
26. From this point of view one may look to the case involving a divorce between the
intending parents of a child conceived in vitro outlined in Chapter Three. There

the trial court, faced with at least six potential parents only one of whom sought
parentage or custody, concluded that the child was without parentage. Here, the
combination of relationships that had produced the baby fell completely apart.
However, the verdict was reversed on appeal, and some of the elements put back
together again.
27. One would not have to go back very far in European history to ¬nd antecedents
(including families made up of other families through death and widowhood), but
the phenomenon described here is novel in originating in particular patterns of
divorce and separation. Of course families could not recombine if they were not
composed of elements with the potential for self-organisation. One of the readers of
this book pointed out that genetic recombination depends on organic or molecular
self-symmetry. In fact Pottage™s (2004: 267“9) comments on what we now know
of the self-producing properties of organisms, that is, organisms that cause them-
selves, indicate a revolution in the language of scienti¬c description that extends the
28. And other close relatives, the basis of genetic screening programmes. The use of
DNA-relationship testing is now carried out in the United Kingdom at a rate of
nearly 10 000 cases annually (HGC 2002: 160).
29. Or an enlargement of ˜the individual™ as a reference point. The degree to which
genetic determinism seized the public imagination in the 1980 and 1990s does not
cease to amaze geneticists or ethicists. (Suvulescu, doctor and philosopher, is quoted
as saying people have an ˜irrational™ approach to genes [The Age, 19 June 2002].) A
description of the deterministic values of this period can be found, for example, in
Nelkin (1996).
30. Indeed, the anthropologist™s term kinship starts being useful. Kinship refers to rela-
tives connected to one another without any supposition of what kind of social group
or family they make up. So it can cover the connections and disconnections en-
tailed in divorce, remarriage, adoption and visiting agreements, as well as in assisted
conception arrangements.
31. As in Euro-American kinship practices that take ˜after nature™, this is a kind of kin
reckoning that can be extended through any of the biotechnologies concerned with
reproduction, including genetic transmission. Some general implications for the law
for understanding ˜the interconnectedness of bodies™ is offered by Herring (2002: 44).
He writes of organ donation ˜as a re¬‚ection of the natural interdependence between
our bodies™. Contrast MacIntyre™s (1999) depiction of interdependence developed
through relationships with speci¬c others.
32. There is an integrity that rests not in defending boundaries, in keeping oneself
inviolate or in asserting rights, but in entering into relationships with others “
the relationship creates a differentiation that separates the parties. Indeed, every
relationship is built on connection and disconnection; there would be no link if
there were no differentiation (cf MacIntyre 1999). This is to argue on the grounds
of social logic; the same ontology could be approached from other perspectives,
notably psychology and psychoanalysis.
33. Whether or not they think of themselves as all members of ˜a family™ will depend
on circumstances, or rather, we need to know how people apply the term. Peo-
ple draw the boundaries in different ways, as Simpson™s data makes evident. In
their brief as petitioners to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Washington grandparents
168 NOTES TO PAGES 27“30

complained through their lawyer that the trial court had focused exclusively on the
parent“child relationship, whereas in common parlance, the ˜petitioners and their
granddaughters would also be described as being part of the same “family”, albeit
in a somewhat broader sense. Grandparent visitation statutes are grounded on a
recognition that grandparents are part of a child™s family™ (arguments as cited in
Dolgin 2002: 389). The family, the grandparents argued further, should be seen as
˜a collection of kin™.
34. He also compares different reactions between partners; in some cases there is a sense
of a ˜controlled expansion of relationships, possibilities and permutations™, whereas
in others there is instead unease with the messiness of overlapping relationships.
People either emphasise the networks or else new, exclusive, nuclear families may
35. And more fundamentally, no relationship. However, I would give ontological status
to the separation integral to relationships [see n. 32], whereas the versions described
here are particular arrangements that draw on that universal condition of sociality
but are not the only instantiations of it. In a merographic sense, there is endless fractal
potential for the replication of combinatory phenomena across different scales, for
persons are combined in relationships insofar as they are also separate from one
another by being parts of other relationships.
36. Again, this is a merographic model for a Western culture, consistent with the model of
reproduction I derive from English kinship (Strathern 1992a). The prior distinction
of entities bound in relations (˜with the environment™, ˜with the world™) belongs to
the model. (In the Melanesian case, on which I have also worked [1988], partibility
takes different forms, and the composition of persons out of persons becomes the
overt subject of public activity.)
37. The labour that goes into conceiving (confounding nature and nurture) is made
visible: ˜I hope she appreciates what we went through to have her™, said the mother
of an IVF baby now 21 years old (The Age, 24 July 2002) when, as the clinician noted,
the procedure was more invasive than it is today.
38. As reported in the case of the ¬rst girl in Australia to be born to a surrogate mother
from an IVF procedure. She is quoted as saying she has three mothers and three
fathers, including the spouses of the surrogate mother and sperm donor, although
˜I know I have only one mum and one dad™ (the couple who bring her up) (Sydney
Morning Herald, 11 May 1999). A commentator at this newspaper remarked that, in
her experience, the business of keeping a family/household going as a functioning
set of persons living together on an intimate, daily basis far outweighed thinking
about origins.
39. Savill (2002: 65), quoting Karpin (1994: 41). See also her reference to an American
observation on the creation of physicians™ perceptions of the fetus as a separate
patient (Savill 2002: 49).
40. She draws on Naf¬ne, and her claim that ˜law™s conception of a person with discrete
and unbroken bodily boundaries misrepresents the bodily reality of all human beings.
But it particularly misrepresents the bodily realities of women whose deviance from
this norm is most irrepressible when they are pregnant™ (Naf¬ne 2002: 46, notes omit-
ted). As a so-called ˜part™ of the mother, the fetus cannot itself “ in the received view “
be a person (Davies and Naf¬ne 2001 : 91).
41. This I read into Savill™s own gloss: she suggests Karpin intends that one should ˜not
draw boundaries within the maternal body in order to make it ¬t into a conceptual

framework that relies on individuation as a pre-requisite to selfhood, but rather, to
accept the connections and differentiations of mother and foetus in their complexity,
without undermining the selfhood and subject status of the pregnant woman™ (Savill
2002: 66, my emphasis; see also Naf¬ne 2002: 82). Karpin (1992: 326) earlier posited ˜an
empowering con¬guration™ in which ˜the woman™s body is seen as neither container
nor separate entity from the fetus. Until the baby is born the fetus is the female body™
(original emphasis). A Melanesian perspective would make explicit the fact that a
body can have relations internal to it.
42. There have been moments of exhaustion within biotechnology itself. Fox Keller
(2000: 72) points to the very term gene as an impediment to exposition of genetics.
43. Without presupposing distinction. Savill objects (2002: 67) to ˜a relational view™ that
would presuppose the fetus as an entity to which others could relate as a distinct
person. But if one starts with the relationship rather than the entities, nothing is
presupposed about dynamics of interaction, developmental trajectories or asymme-
tries. We might say that what is so important for Euro-Americans at birth is not just
that a new person becomes visually apparent but (in that bodily separation) a new
relation. In other cultural contexts, bodily separation itself can be delayed through
various forms of postnatal identi¬cation between mother and child, and relations
unfold in other ways.
44. The clinic (Sydney IVF) featured in both these stories. Of 1 000 IVF cycles now
performed by this clinic annually, the newspaper noted that only about twenty are
with donated sperm; almost all are with sperm from known donors.
45. Conversely, we might expect that donor anonymity comes into its own, not as an
adjunct of concepts of the nuclear family whose integrity has to be preserved but by
creating special kinds of connections (see Konrad 1988).

chapter 2: embedded science
1. U.K. government initiatives have been fuelled by crises over food and technology
and by apparently plummeting public respect accorded to science. The ICSU™s (2003)
preparatory document for its review was explicit: ˜If ICSU is really to address some
of the key “science and society” issues, then it may have to look beyond its current
“academic” membership and seek partners representing other sectors of society.
Building on commitments made during the World Conference of Science in 1999,
this is something we have now committed ourselves to do in relation to the World
Summit on Sustainable Development, where the international community has asked
for “a new contract between science and society” ™.
2. An engagement with society, environment turned actor (˜the context speaks back™),
replaces the old contract between relatively isolated experts who in return for being
allowed (funded) to freely pursue research gave back public bene¬ts from time to
time. Much of this modelling of relations is spelled out by Gibbons 1999; Nowotny,
Scott and Gibbons 2001 . The Branco-Weiss international fellowship programme,
Society in Science, which made its ¬rst appointments in 2003, was the inspiration of
Helga Nowotny and colleagues (at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich).
Strathern (2004a; 2004b) explores some of these arguments.
3. It will be appreciated that I present a highly focused (selected) version of anthropo-
logical history. For a fascinating account of kinship analysis reproducing capitalist
economic utilities, see McKinnon 2001.
170 NOTES TO PAGES 34“38

4. Among the four changes in knowledge about the natural world, with which Shapin
(1996: 13) credits the seventeenth century, is the depersonalisation of natural knowl-
edge and the growing separation of subjects and objects. The other three are mech-
anisation, that is, the use of mechanical metaphors to describe natural processes;
mechanisation of knowledge-making, that is, the introduction of speci¬c methods;
and aspiration to deploy scienti¬c knowledge in the service of moral or political
judgement given that it itself was rendered disinterested, a point on which Haraway
(1997) has famously written.
5. The legal versions take on attributes of their own, as we shall see in Part II. Many of
these points are made in Alain Pottage™s work, not separately referenced here.
6. Theory, from the same Greek root as theatre, a sight or spectacle, was in the seven-
teenth century expanded to encompass contemplation, a mental view, a conceptual
or mental schema, and from there to a system of ideas or statements held as an
explanation for phenomena or a systematic statement of general principles or laws.
7. My very own medicine: What must I know? (Melzer 2003) is the title of a review
on information policy for pharmacogenetics completed for The Wellcome Trust
by the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge.
Pharmacogenetics is the study of genetically determined variability in response to
drugs and their application. (The clinical application of products involves the genetic
testing of individual patients.) Prime ethical problems are envisaged in the disclosure
of information to third parties (Corrigan 2004).
8. A quali¬cation follows: ˜with a shared interest in medical progress and the conquest
of illness™. Molecular biology has grown up alongside the society-and-science debate.
9. For a discussion of material from U.S. law, see Dolgin (2000), discussed in Chap-
ter One. The irony of family in this sense standing for society, however diminished
by the epithet micro, will not be lost on feminist scholars.
10. ˜Although considerations of genetic solidarity and altruism [acknowledging one™s
responsibilities without coercion] will generally take second place to the principle
of respect for persons . . . [meaning, as human beings], there may be exceptional
circumstances in which the contrary is true. In such cases the social interest “ or
the common good “ may be weightier than the individual interest, and certain
rights of the individual may take second place™, an example being the storage of the
genetic pro¬les of criminals (HGC 2002: 2.11). The concept of genetic solidarity is
taken from the UNESCO Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human
Rights adopted in 1997 (endorsed by the U.N. General Assembly in 1998).
11. He uses relations and relationship interchangeably. ˜My view is that insofar as anthro-
pology has a speci¬c subject-matter at all, that subject-matter is social relationships “
relationships between participants in social systems of various kinds™ (Gell 1998: 4).
˜Anthropological theories are distinctive in that they are typically about social rela-
tionships™ (1998: 11). He goes on to say that this is not a matter of supplying contexts
for interpreting art objects but of understanding the relata (here, art objects) as social
12. Criticised by Dumont, whose argument was that social science was misled to think
it should be seeking correlations or mechanisms and not intellectual coherence; it
should not aim to be a causal science but the study of meaningful relations: ˜For
Dumont, studying a social system is studying a form of mind™ (Descombes 2000:
40). Descombes focuses on the role of ˜mind™ in critiques of this position.

13. What religion had revealed was the relationship between man and God. Science
hardly invented a self-referential universe (I am grateful to discussions with Alan
Strathern on this point, but he is not responsible for my rendering of them). Fara
(2003: 20“21) describes the pain felt by Linneaus™s rivals ˜who were trying to work


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