How has it come about that indigenous cultures, body parts, and sequences of musical notes are considered property? How has the movement from collective to privatized systems affected notions of property? At what point in transaction chains do native cultures, indigenous medicines, or cyberdata become 'objects' and therefore 'propertized', and what are the social, economic, and ethical considerations for such transformations? Addressing these hotly contested issues and many more, Property in Question interrogates the very concept of property and what is happening to it in the contemporary world, in case studies ranging from Romania to Kazakhstan, Africa to North America. The book examines not only the changing character of the property concept, but also its ideological foundations and political usages. Authors address bio-transactions, music copyright, cyberspace, oil prospecting, debates over privatization of land and factories, and dilemmas arising with new forms of ownership of businesses.
Offering a fresh perspective on contemporary economic transformation, this volume is a long overdue investigation of the power of the 'private property' concept, as well as an exploration of how the global economy may be subtly, even invisibly, changing what 'property' means and how we relate to it.
'This is a highly stimulating and challenging collection on urgent issues of property, one of the most powerful devices of exclusion and hierarchy. The great contribution lies in its theoretical considerations of new and old property objects and property relationships, as they are socially and spatially grounded. But it branches out into questions of sovereignty, nationality, and the relationship between communities and individuals.' Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology 'A brilliant exploration of the transformation of concepts of property and value at the turn of the millennium. Engaging with the emergence of new forms of property in the post-Communist world, in cyberspace, in intellectual property law, and in relations between indigenous peoples and the state, the essays in this volume push the boundaries of our thinking about one of the central categories of our world.' John Frow, University of Edinburgh 'In all, this is a very thought-provoking collection of essays that extends the scholarship on property in new and exciting directions. It will be welcomed by scholars of property as well as those interested more broadly in post-socialist societies, aboriginal land claims, and/or the relationship between socio-cultural and technological change in the information age.' Paul Nadasdy, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (Vol 11, No 3, September 2005)