Property in All the Wrong Places? Review of Michael F. Brown, Who Owns Native Culture (2003), and Karen R. Merrill, Public Lands and Political Meaning: Ranchers, the Government, and the Property Between Them (2002)
Carol M. Rose
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law
Yale Law Journal, Vol. 114, p. 991, 2005
In these two books, an anthropologist and an historian both document an ever-increasing deployment of property categories in two quite different domains and times: native people's recent cultural claims in the first book, and the longer story of the United States' public rangelands in the second. Both authors take a jaundiced view of this increasing move to propertization, however, arguing that in their respective subjects, the growing use of property rhetoric paralyzes fluid and negotiated problem-solving while it also undermines respectful relationships among the parties. The reviewer suggests, however, that both authors may be underestimating the ability of property institutions to morph into new and useful forms - forms that not only can aid wide-ranging negotiations but also enhance respect and understanding among the participating persons and groups.
Keywords: property, indigenous claims, intellectual property, public lands
JEL Classification: K11, K32Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 19, 2005
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