Amalia Anderson, representing the league of rural voters, is leading off by highlighting the distinction between indigenous cultures and Western culture. Much of what we've been talking about, she observes, is rooted in various notions of "ownership," which are representative of the Western/European traditions and in many ways foreign to indigenous traditions. Individual ownership vs. collective ownership. "We don't tend to place an economic value on our knowledge, " she says.
At the same time she says that the Public Domain is not a trustworthy space either, as the larger Public (I'm paraphrasing) tends to pull things away from indigenous peoples; genetic mapping, the recording of traditional stories, etc.
I find some of this problematic, mostly in the sense that I don't particularly see a solid philosophical footing for indigenous-ness. This is pretty unsurprising; I can't lay any claim to that kind of title, and I'm not sure how anyone else does either? Everyone came from somewhere, it seems, and being "indigenous" really seems to mean "we got here first." That aside, I can see a great deal of value in considering the implications with regards to self-determination/agency of attempting to supplant existing governing structures and modes of communications. It seems to me that, for better or for worse, all the world's land is more or less owned, and that these issues crop up not only with "first nation" peoples, but also with independent artists getting co-opted by corporations. Similar patterns in any case. (Others echo this point out loud as I blog it).
Now Sarah Greengrass is talking about the state of intellectual property law with regard to patents in the pharmecutical industry, how international treaties deisgned to give developing nations access to the IP needed to make drugs in a time of crisis were being bogged down in protracted legal battles. However, many drug patents managed by large pharmaceutical conglomorates are actually owned by Universities, who have a mandate to serve the public interest.
Here's the opening. Beginning with an AIDS drug owned by Yale, they organized students, faculty and eventually the administration to open it up. Now they've built a coalition of universities to require drugs they patent to be covered under a license that guarantees the ability of developing nations to utilize their patents in times of need. The oganization is built through student activism and organizing research faculty, and by promoting alternative job performance metrics that take into account the social good in adition to licencing revenues.
Talking about methods: putting pressure on people through publicity; finding the legalistic weak link; simply making connections, picking up the phone or sending an email. There's a need to connect the local to national and the national to the international; again the need to create a message and disseminate it persuasively.
Another problem is how to reach people who don't necessarily have access to the latest tech. For a lot of people, CD-Rs are cutting edge. For a lot of people, broadband doesn't exist. It's important to realize that all this internet shit isn't internet only. It's internet enabled. This is a realization that's still percolating in the world. News coverage of the last election still misses this point, so it's not terrifically surprising, but still. You don't need to be online to have the internet improve your life chances as long as there's a human being or organization to make the connection.