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his duty but will indubitably remain stunted, all skin and bone.
Although the body registers the effects of people™s actions, one of Bamford™s
arguments is that the body is not a vehicle that renders substance, let alone
procreative substance, the linking material of kinship. That takes other forms.
For example, what is in their heads affects men too. Men prize their con-
nections with their fathers and fathers™ fathers and point to their inheritance
of land as proof. A man™s land claims depend crucially on knowledge, to be
precise knowledge of where his ancestors have cultivated, in order that he may
cultivate there (claims not activated through labour will eventually disappear).
In fact, men and women engender their own modes of relating, a woman™s
children (especially girls) tracing lateral ties through one-blood connections
and a man™s children (especially boys) seeing themselves as part of a lineal
succession. The modes are so divergent that the anthropologist refers to the
momentum of Kamea social life as an intersection of ˜two distinct relational
forms™ (Bamford 2004: 302).
In this vignette lies just the kind of material that would fuel continuing
Euro-American sterotypes about the personalised, face-to-face character of
small scale communities. I hope the observations about the conceptual role of
intent and the signi¬cance of knowledge will have offered at least preliminary
pause.


leaving ˜knowledge™ to one side
Scienti¬c knowledge gives Euro-Americans a way of being truthful about the
nature of the world. Indeed, it is literally a practice of veri¬cation. The ability
to occupy two positions at once, key to the relational tool I have introduced,
is no more than a tool or a facility, and exists alongside diverse attempts to
co-opt it. All we can say is that a social anthropology made possible by the way
84 KINSHIP, LAW AND THE UNEXPECTED


relationality is developed for the epistemological ends of investigation and
enquiry also ¬nds itself practising its own forms of relationality. Part I spelled
out anthropology™s dual interest in conceptual and interpersonal relations,
in investigating relations between concepts and relations between persons.
Anthropology does not have to summon a nature“culture divide (science™s
relation) in order to do so. But it does summon knowledge-making practices.
Spelling out the anthropological usefulness of the tool spurs me to re¬‚ect
on Part II and thus on Chapters Four to Six in a particular way. (And the rendi-
tion might draw the pieces together, even bestow some value on their original
independence.) At the outset, Chapter Four opens with a set of stereotypes
about Euro-Americans inhabiting technology where others “ here Paci¬c Is-
landers (from New Ireland) “ apparently inhabit communities. Chapter Six
ends with an internationalist example of just such thinking being applied to
new legislative attempts in the Paci¬c, which will in turn drive new political
and economic interests. This is knowledge put to work, I might add, a means
rather than an end.
In pressing its dual interests into a source of knowledge for itself, anthro-
pology may seemingly ¬nd arenas of social life that correspond to one or
other side of the duplex. One aspect of society appears a more apposite exem-
plar than another. So the two kinds of relations frequently emerge as though
they could be distributed across different forms of association, institutions,
societies even. That is one way in which Euro-American knowledge practices
work. They allocate values or insights or facilities to different places (other
people may strive to make them appear in the same place), rather as the ancient
Greeks distributed virtues and vices among the gods. Chapter Five offers an
example of Euro-American human rights discourse pitting categorical against
interpersonal relations. But if we gave ear to Gell™s (1999a: 35) admonishment,
that a woman is mother to a child not through her physical presence or acts
but as a term in a relation, we must take the view that persons do not exist
independently of concepts of them. We ought in turn to be astonished to ¬nd
kinship become associated with interpersonal relations as against the cate-
gorical or conceptual relations of society “ or of property, McKinnon (2001 )
reminds us “ in the anthropological tradition. I am afraid this is almost how
Chapter Four proceeds, using Euro-American intellectual property regimes
and Melanesian memorial practices as foils for one another. Why this might
be marginally tenable as a comparison emerges at the end of Chapter Six.
Between these forays into epistemology is a narrative of a different sort.
Science™s relation and, with its own reach, anthropology™s relation, afford
an immense resource to a society whose project rests on knowledge of the
world. I further remarked that if anthropology™s relation does not have to
85
INTRODUCTION: THE ARITHMETIC OF OWNERSHIP


summon a nature“culture divide, it does summon knowledge practices, by
which I meant the kind of knowledge-making that informs epistemology.3
But anthropology (among other routes to insight!) also forces us to observe
that not all projects are knowledge-projects in this sense. Does that bring it
up short? Or can anthropology use its tool to ask what a non-epistemic version
of the relation would look like?
There is nothing arcane about this: we have just encountered legislation
pressing into service a contrast between techno-industrial and communal
rights. The Model Law for the Paci¬c Islands (described in Chapter Six) is based
on an assumption about the inappropriateness of an intellectual property
rights (IPR) regime formed in a technology-conscious, industrial-political
economy for the kind of protection Paci¬c Islanders might seek for their
cultural resources, understood as their inheritance. It has required various
fact-¬nding missions. Importantly, the aim was not to understand more about
the nature of those Paci¬c Island communities; rather, it was to set up an
instrument that would give these communities formal recognition in the legal
process.
Here I draw on Riles™ (2003) work a second time. In thinking about differ-
ent genres of legal knowledge, she distinguishes between instruments whose
existence is de¬ned by the ends to which they are put and representations that
are to be analysed for their meanings and thus for what they express. In fact,
she argues that the law™s expressive genre makes objects such as ˜communities™
by producing signi¬cations about them; at the same time, in instrumental
genre, it creates documents and verdicts that do not represent but instantiate
(say) a community™s rights. In her words, the expressive and the instrumental
are sequential responses to one another. If we take thus take knowledge of
the world (epistemology) as representation, an end in itself, an immediate
analogy would suggest that non-epistemic knowledge will be found when
instrumental means come to the fore. As we shall see, this is not the only
conclusion.
My attention is drawn to the law, as a domain of Euro-American institu-
tional life, for the very reason that it treats knowledge as means as well as ends.
Any illumination it brings of the world may be displaced by its instrumental
value in setting up the protocols and boundaries that direct people™s actions.
Here, it is treating knowledge in a non-epistemic manner. Now the law™s great
strength is its deployment of categorical or conceptual relations. Thus IPR
regimes attempt to give categorical value to the products of people™s activities
through the concept of property. Frequently, however, it declares little interest
in interpersonal relations. People as subjects in law must be dealt with categor-
ically too, as in the conceptual de¬nition of who are entitled to call themselves
86 KINSHIP, LAW AND THE UNEXPECTED


members of a rights-holding community. More than that, the law insists on
a separation between legal (conceptual) and personal (interpersonal) mat-
ters. A human rights commentary on this very point is mentioned at the
end of Chapter Five, and a forceful criticism appears in Chapter Six from the
Australian legal writers whom we also met in the ¬rst. Indeed the separation,
on which the law insists, frequently puts the distinction in concrete terms that
¬nds very general resonance: Euro-Americans like to tell themselves that they
distinguish property from persons.
However, when it comes to relations, it is apparent that this non-
epistemic apprehension of knowledge deals with only part of the conceptual“
interpersonal duplex and indeed sets up barriers between the two kinds. In
this context, as its criticisms of human rights discourse shows, anthropology™s
relation can only work by bringing in evidence from beyond the law in a kind
of counter-balancing or compensatory fashion. The challenge is whether the
(anthropologists™) duplex as such, with both kinds of relations in view, can also
point to non-epistemic phenomena. Here it is fortuitous that my attention was
drawn to the law in the arena where it deals at once with knowledge and with
property, namely intellectual property rights. For the global dissemination of
IPR thinking, as culminates in protocols such as the Paci¬c Islands Model Law,
conveys in its wake all kinds of questions about persons and property. This
brings us face to face with cosmologies that include claims of considerable
interest to the law (property) but rest more widely on concepts of ownership.
Ownership is of passionate concern to Euro-Americans. Indeed the short
disquisition on ownership in Chapter Four could have been written with
Tarde in mind (see Chapter Two). But it is also a very useful translation, in
a way property is not, for certain ways in which people (including people
not in this tradition) perceive their claims over one another. Perhaps there
is a candidate here for non-epistemic relations of both kinds. The argument
requires bringing in non“Euro-American material, primarily from Melanesia.
Riles observes that expressive and instrumental forms of legal knowledge
act in concert with each other. But there is knowledge, including knowledge
available to the law, that lies beyond this pair. Ownership involves descriptions
and representations of the world yet is not itself a project of description or a
representation. And it would require quali¬cation (e.g., property ownership)
to render it instrumental. Ideas about ownership thus offer a possible axis for
comparison with ways of thought that lie outside the Enlightenment orbit “
and with those that lie within to which Enlightenment thinking can give only
clumsy guidance.
Pursuing ownership may thus throw light on the fact that, despite con-
stant assertions to the contrary, for Euro-Americans the question of whether
persons are property will not die. The conundrum, which the law seems to
87
INTRODUCTION: THE ARITHMETIC OF OWNERSHIP


have settled and yet not quite, unsettles assumed ways of knowing about the
world. For it unsettles axioms of agency (subject“object and person“thing)
derived from the relational nexus based on nature“culture, biology“society,
discovery“invention and so forth. Thus we ¬nd all over again, and the book
opened with this very concern, biotechnology raising in people™s minds new
questions about persons (including bodies and body parts) being owned.
In broaching Euro-American anxieties on this score with materials drawn
altogether from elsewhere, we encounter other interests that compel people to
combine and separate conceptual and interpersonal relations. This includes
an interest in propagation, that is, in creativity and procreation, where “ as
Kamea assume “ nothing is ¬nished at birth, and the determination of who
is an offspring of whom has to be worked upon. Kinship emerges as a prime
¬eld in which claims are made over persons as categories. If these are relations
in the ¬rst place neither expressive nor instrumental, they are non-epistemic
by virtue of the fact that kinds of knowledge cease to be a principal reference
point.


the arithmetic of ownership
Chapter Four dwells at some length on intellectual property rights and on the
kind of investment that Euro-American people make in their ownership. If
invention shows the creativity of individuals, it must be marked off from the
discovery of natural facts that were always there for anyone to come across.
One reason to reproduce this piece is that it immediately summons an
instrumental application of knowledge. The categorical distinction between
invention and discovery becomes far less signi¬cant as offering divergent
ways of verifying the nature of the world than it becomes, in IPR, a legal
tool for adjudicating between rights. Hirsch (2004: 184) highlights Rabinow™s
(1996b) famous question of a U.S. scientist, ˜Who invented PCR [polymerase
chain reaction]?™, to which the reply came, ˜Conception, development and
application are all scienti¬c issues “ invention is a question for the patent
lawyers™. This brings Euro-American moderns closer to their New Ireland
counterparts than the reverse. Moreover, what for a moment looks like a
contrast between the categorical distinctions of Euro-American patent law
and New Ireland rituals of procreation “ the one producing things out of
things, the other persons out of persons “ dissolves. Euro-Americans also aim
to produce creative scientists who can claim ownership, adding the magic of
individualism to invention, whereas New Irelanders aim to produce images
of persons as concepts or categories whose form they wish to own.
It is the anthropologist who puts these people and their ideas together. But
the anthropologist also hopes to recognise her duplex in the hands of others.
88 KINSHIP, LAW AND THE UNEXPECTED


The two-sided relation emerges in the way people try to make conceptual
artefacts, and speci¬cally categories, out of social relations. Here ˜people™ be-
comes inclusive, as the chapter stresses what lies in common between those of
a ˜Euro-American™ background and those who hail from ˜Melanesia™. Of course
they are not the same. New Ireland carvers think they are reproducing what
was always there, whereas Euro-American experimenters think they innovate.
Nonetheless, the extended ˜as if™ analogy that drives the chapter, ˜suppose a
type of New Ireland mortuary sculpture (Malanggan) were a patentable form
of technology™, is meant to bring these circumstances together.
Ownership pinpoints differences of interest (Hayden 2003). Patents are
about the ownership of rights to exploit an idea, whereas copyright is an
ownership right over the form in which ideas are expressed against the interests
that other people might have. What New Irelanders own, and to some extent
distribute to other persons, is the concept or image of a (particular) deceased
person. The image is a categorical rendering of the person that is capable
of being communicated to others, and thereby so to speak interpersonally
reworked. As we shall see, the rendering of the image (as a sculpture or mask
for example) involves knowledge in its execution and in people™s recognition of
its features. Perhaps we could call the knowledge non-epistemic. For it is clear
that Malanggan ˜knowledge™ is transmitted not in order for people to know
about ˜the world™ or improve upon it but in order to capture power (Wagner
1975), to confer title. The persuasive effect of the work is accomplished if it
simply summons a presence that is, aesthetically speaking, memorable.
Chapter One did not pause on the intriguing title of Davies and Naf¬ne™s
book, Are persons property? (2001 ). The same question is asked in Papua New
Guinea, and is answered by law and custom in different ways. Chapter Five,
taking us further along the path of ownership, thus opens with a court case
from Papua New Guinea concerning claims over a woman being given away, it
would seem, as though she were property. The image of her as bones (literally,
a skull) in a netbag, seems to compound the indignity. But this echo of Euro-
American interest in body parts leads us to unpack the Melanesian fabrication
along lines hinted in Chapter Four. The image of a person is an image of a
relationship.
An image rei¬es (categorises) a relationship by presenting the whole per-
son as seen from view of their claimant/relative. In this sense we can talk of
ownership: people may own the (whole) concept of the person as a relative.
The speci¬c relationship that they summon or elicit from the person is that
(whole) person in relation to them. We can also talk of relations or relation-
ships as the subject of politico-ritual interest much as the individual person
in Western jurisprudence is a subject in law. However, when they come to
take action, persons become agents in that they must choose which of several
89
INTRODUCTION: THE ARITHMETIC OF OWNERSHIP


potential relationships is to be acted upon. It is relationships, not knowledge,
people describe as compelling action. As a consequence, persons may appear
either as singular (whole, categorically available for possession by others) or
as plural (partible, an agent enmeshed in a multitude of agents).
Euro-American property thinking points to different premises. Ideas about
bodies and body parts suggest, by contrast, that it is possible to have property
in a part but not the whole. Other habits of thought are also contextualised,
such as the equation of kinship with tradition, and the antinomy tradition
and modernity. Chapter Four ended with a comment on whether people think
they are pursuing the new or the old: here we have legal rhetoric pitting the new
against the old. Finally, it is probably super¬‚uous to add that anthropology™s
relation is held in place by the way the narrative is constructed. The analysis
thus elucidates an interplay between categorical and interpersonal relations
in the manner in which a bride-to-be was regarded by her kin, and regarded
herself. Neither view substituted for the other.
Several themes found in earlier chapters are encountered again in Chap-
ter Six. It starts off a vein similar to Chapter Three with a comment on rhetoric,
in this case in terms of (culturally salient) issues that are brought to bear
on the law but are not part of it. It also echoes the discussion about ˜how
many™ authors make up an author. Where Chapter Four draws inspiration
from European legal thinking about patents, here copyright takes centre stage.
Above all it continues the argument of Chapter Five about categorical claims
on persons. In opening up the Malanggan case again, it pursues the issue of
non-epistemic relations, in both senses of non-epistemic (on the one hand a
type of knowledge and on the other hand not about knowledge at all). This
leads to the question voiced by Kalinoe and Simet, namely what if anything
is intellectual about the ownership of rights to designs or other intangibles
that could be glossed as knowledge? Intellectual may not be the right epithet
for immaterial effects such as images, and I query the signi¬cance of their
location in the mind.
Chapter Six is confrontational about one question of ownership. It does
not make up a query about whether persons can be property but takes the
query directly from the work of academic lawyers. A contrast presented by IPR
proves illuminating insofar as it emerges that Euro-American legal thinking
allows that persons can only own (rights over) what is embedded in an object
understood as a ˜thing™. This logic lies behind the arithmetic of ownership.
Melanesian people, and the examples are from areas where images of the
person or relationship are found in ornaments and emblems, compute claims
over the person in the form of categorical ownership. Here, ornaments, and
other emblems, such as land or paintings, may be regarded as the ˜bodies™
of those who thus ˜own™ him or her, as the body itself can. Persons are in
90 KINSHIP, LAW AND THE UNEXPECTED


this manner embodied in others. The Kamea mother-to-be, whose contours
are transformed as she consumes the bridewealth food (girls are fed copious
quantities) would ¬nd this familiar.
But then perhaps the North London mother would not ¬nd dissonant an
analogy that jumps out of this last chapter. The analogy is between her expe-
rience of her child as an extension both of herself and of the world and those
Euro-American views of property that see it as at once enhancing the person
and attaching him or her to this (same) world. Indeed, ¬ltering the discussion
of knowledge through property yields another dividend. It uncovers a con-
dition of subjectivity under which knowledge comes to have value as an end
rather than a means, that is, assumes an epistemological character: the duty
to know oneself.4 For it would be too narrow to read simple instrumental-
ism back into the mother™s compulsion to improve her parenting of her child
(even her relationship with it, to take Adrian Mole5 as our guide). The sci-
enti¬c impetus to improvement, including self-improvement, demands that
the world is understood ¬rst. Instrumental value can be found at any order of
injunction (you need to understand the world as it is because you never know
when you are going to need the knowledge; research is justi¬ed by future use
even if none is evident now, and so on). But this is only possible because the
(one) world is regarded as in¬nitely open to exploration. And that premise is
re-iterated over and again.
In what way do the two sides of the anthropology™s relation work for
Melanesian ownership? In the making of a conceptual link between kin, the
person (the particular relationship) becomes categorised, rei¬ed, claimable;
in the enactment claims are then re-embedded in a nexus of interpersonal
relationships with particular histories to them. Thus the Murik or Omie child
appears now with a singular identity and now with multiple identities. The
two aspects to relating are also found in the contrast between observing rules
and bestowing nurture. Together, the three chapters in Part II suggest how the
respective facilities in linking concepts and linking persons work off against
each other in situations where people are concerned with their origins, and
with the origins of powers as they conceptualise them. The details of the
way these Melanesian persons divide themselves from one another, where
Euro-American constructs suppose people adding themselves to one another,
throws some light on the kinds of calculations made about the ownership of
(pro)creative potential.


the anthropologists™ relation is a tool, a duplex fashioned by
the social world in which they (and everyone else) live, by the way people
91
INTRODUCTION: THE ARITHMETIC OF OWNERSHIP


switch between conceptual and interpersonal relations in their dealings with
one another. This fashioning lay behind their early forays into kinship sys-
tems long before relations between nature and culture became debated. And
this social world includes but goes beyond the Euro-American, and indeed
non“Euro-American kinship gave the tool much of its cutting edge.
Yet in anthropological hands, the duplex has a major limitation. It be-
comes an epistemological artefact. For all that it allows one to ask about non-
epistemic relations, its limitation is (obviously) the form that the duplex takes,
the relation. For although it is good at elucidating the other side of things,
especially in the case of societies outside the orbit of those developed by the
Enlightenment and the scienti¬c revolution, things indeed remain ˜other™, that
is, seen always in relation to the vantage point of the moment. This is the trick
of the Euro-American ˜one world™, and a ¬nal surprise that should be no sur-
prise. What happens to the duplex when anthropologists ¬nd they can count
worlds in different ways is, precisely, nothing. In short, the relation will not
disappear.
By this I mean that the duplex whose form is the relation translates every-
thing into itself. So it is impossible with this tool to comprehend different
worlds other than in relation to one another. The hard-won feminist message,
that male only makes sense in relation to female, was a signi¬cant challenge
to essentialism or positivism; but when it comes to the ˜two distinct relational
forms™ of Kamea gender, the limit is that we can only see these as correlates of
each other. In the way kin become embodied in kin, the viewpoints of son and
sister™s son, hazarded in Chapter Six as a counterpart to the multiple worlds
of human-animal interactions in Amazonia, appear already related.
The edge of this tool is simultaneously its power. Whatever one declares
about incommensurability or asymmetry, the elements of anthropological
narrative will re-arrange themselves in relation to one another. So it will
forever translate diverse and multiple worlds into versions of “ perspectives
on “ the same world. We just need to know that.


acknowledgement
My debt to Eduardo Viveiros de Castro should be evident throughout the
book, but no more so than here; Chapter Six provides some exempli¬cation.
His three nano-essays on kinship and magic (in prep.) take everything a notch
further.
4




The Patent and the Malanggan




The Malanggan exists at no speci¬c time or place, but moves through time
and place, like a thunderstorm.
Alfred Gell, 1998: 226



T he perception that technology is everywhere “ within and
around us “ comes from, among other places, the way modern people
describe themselves. They (moderns of the Euro-American sort) run together
all kinds of devices, examples of ingenuity and aids to living as though they had
a total existence more powerful than any particular contraption could hold
by itself. The conglomerate is glued together by two major assumptions. In
everyday parlance, ˜technology™ points to what is contemporary and innovative
about modernity; it also points to the creative inventiveness that brings itself
into being. A substantial corpus of intellectual property rights, for instance,
concerns itself with the producers of contraptions when the producers can
also show that they were the original innovators and inventors. I wish to
take advantage of the prevalent disourse of technology and the increasingly
prevalent discourse of intellectual property to describe a part of our world not
ordinarily brought within the range of these constructs. It creates an interesting
context for a question. What is strange about technology that Euro-Americans
should so insist on their familiarity with it? My toolkit is a couple of textbooks
on intellectual property rights (IPR), an art catalogue from an exhibition of

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