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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Inventing Hoodia: Vulnerabilities and Epistemic Citizenship in South Africa

  • Author(s): Foster, Laura A.
  • et al.

In studying Hoodia patent law struggles, I am interested in how sovereign power, in the service of neoliberal bioeconomies, values some forms of knowledge over others. I examine how techniques of governmentality such as patent law, benefit sharing contracts, bioprospecting permits, and prior informed consent agreements are being used to structure inequitable forms of citizenship based upon whose knowledge and intellectual labor matters more to the neoliberal project of the nation-state. In particular, I ask how relevant social actors make claims for rights, benefits, and protection under the law based upon a vulnerability to their processes and ways of knowing in order to participate more fully within global market economies. In addition, I examine how social actors articulate, position, and rework concepts of nature and culture as they describe their practices related to the plant in order to secure rights under patent law and benefit sharing legislation.

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