ISHTIP at Penn, part 8

Methodology: What should histories and theories of IP be
doing? What role should interdisciplinarity play? | Martha Woodmansee (Case
Western Reserve University), Moderator
 
Lionel Bently (Cambridge)
We tolerated the use of the term “IP” to discuss the field,
though we were aware of problems with it—not used in 19th c.; often
used for law, but we wanted to talk about other regimes; we were conscious of
the dangers of fetishization of law or its categories.  Methodological assumptions revealed in ISHTIP’s
website: sometimes we post the best papers
from each workshop as examples of good work: methodologically sound,
productive, insightful.  Also a bibliography
for people in the field. Also themes for conferences show concerns: a set of
methodological and disciplinary assumptions: themes like representation of the intangible;
IP as cultural technology; openness.
 
Work that disrupts evolutionary stories that make the
present seem inevitable and provides ways to think how it would be otherwise;
work that exposes ways of thinking we don’t readily see in our own practices:
e.g., use of visual and other forms of representation of intangible. Historical
work allows you to see things that are difficult to see in present environment.
 
Kathy Bowrey (New South Wales)
Law is an imperialist discipline: creates its own kinds of
truths through relation to power and authority. 
Claims about superiority of private property, freedom of contract,
freedom of expression. Law & humanities have worked to deconstruct some of
those normative elements.  Patent
scholarship has always been more empirical, but history has occurred w/o much
engagement w/legal scholars until recently. New empirics underlying ©
scholarship and to a lesser extent design and TMs.  Political ambition: contest claims to
naturalness of power and authority.
 
Law claims for itself the authority to define/decide what
the law is.  Interdisciplinary work
challenges that authority. Cultural studies, sociology, anthropology of
professions.  What it is we mean by law:
fight ongoing reproduction of this imperialism. Turn to archival work is really
interesting in this light.  Critical
lawyers need to help historians understand complexity of law as subject—we shorthand
it and are reluctant to unpack.
 
Adrian Johns (University of Chicago)
Identifying moments of change can be difficult in the
moment, as Madison says.  So what can we
imagine for succeeding in 25 years? Interdisciplinarity comes with an
association w/virtue, seemingly b/c in the mid 20th century it
developed as an alternative to entrenched and intellectually constraining
disciplines.  Ways of reconstituting a
liberal democratic order in the face of overweening claims by behaviorism/the
very idea of disciplines.  Risk of creating
authoritarian personality through too much immersion in rules of
disciplines.  Cognitive science took off
as a way to be disciplinary but also free by restoring mind to the center.  When interdisciplinarity worked, it worked by
making compromises: constricted what the disciplines were between which you
were inter.  Institutionally embedded in
gender studies/science studies.  Brought
in people from relatively closely aligned fields—anthropology, sociology. The
closer the disciplines are, the more they argued, and that was productive.
 
ISHTIP needed to be interprofessional: scientists,
filmmakers, musicians, composers, lawyers, and others. But that’s completely
impossible.  Playing the long game: there
are whole areas to be understood that had been systematically missed.  One of the most important: the realm of
technologies, practices, corporate endeavor between the legal world and the
everyday creative life. 
 
Madison: How would one define success in this context? No
need to have a single definition. Political ambitions are embedded in Johns’
narrative; intellectual, organizational, professional for individuals.  Academics often consider the work itself
evidence of its own impact.  Networking
is not a great mode of political organizing.
 
Woodmansee: change consciousness; some other organization
will become the activist avant-garde.
 
Madison: it doesn’t have to be that way, rigid distinction
b/t research and activism—crossover is possible rather than hoping for the rest
of the world to listen critically.
 
Woodmansee: ISHTIP was founded to be a scholarly society
which is not activist, unlike CC. Those things were going on at the same
time. 
 
Johns: ISHTIP ought to occupy not the space of a
policymaking body, but venue of critical understanding to change consciousness
in the end, and that’s success enough. 
ISHTIP participants will be working creatively and politically, but the
organization itself is not a failure if it doesn’t do that.
 
Bowrey: having director from humanities and one from law:
our aspiration is to have equality, though nonlawyers are regularly outnumbered
by lawyers. Want to be less Anglo, but higher education is under attack.  Participate/recruit fellow travelers.
 
Jaszi: Lawyers are likely to be with us for the foreseeable
future.  Consider what lawyers interested
but perhaps not skilled in other disciplines could do to become part of this
discussion.  We operate in a very narrow
channel; most of what we do is about the critique of doctrine. For people who
have come up in that tradition, what methodologies are available? One
possibility: learn to do other things—become better empiricists, ethnographers,
etc.  Another: encourage project based
collaboration.  ISHTIP as a space through
which lawyers who know there’s more but are clueless about how to get there
could identify collaborators and work actively on projects across disciplines.  Also: the kind of work that was
characteristic across a wide range of legal disciplines in the first flowering
of Critical Legal Studies: working w/doctrine, the thing we know how to do, but
w/specific emphasis not on finding its coherence as we are taught to do in law
school and not to propose the way in which doctrine can be made more coherent.
But look more attentively for incoherence. 
A great deal to learn from that.
 
Johns: Incoherence of a concept is not a fatal accusation in
his field.
 
Q: Note the difference between expectations in fields: law =
publish law review articles, especially early in career; other fields = publish
in other journals and also books.  How do
we deal w/that?

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