In the past, efforts to reconcile the western concept of intellectual property with indigenous knowledge have not taken into account the schism between this knowledge and western scientific forms. As knowledge assumes increasing importance in the quest for self-determination, cultural survival, and economic empowerment, the gulf between indigenous and western scientific knowledge assumes a new meaning. In International Law and Indigenous Knowledge, Chidi Oguamanam argues that the crisis of legitimacy indigenous knowledge poses for the intellectual property system compels a re-thinking of the concept of intellectual property itself.
Drawing on interdisciplinary research, International Law and Indigenous Knowledge takes as its framework the legal doctrinal methodology, focusing on international legal and policy developments regarding the protection of indigenous knowledge. Using traditional medicine and biodiversity to illustrate his thesis, Oguamanam argues that recent international legal and policy developments in the direction of a cross-cultural approach to intellectual property rights are desirable trends. Such developments come closer to addressing the rift between western and non-western knowledge systems as well as the crisis of legitimacy in the conventional intellectual property system.
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Chidi Oguamanam is a professor in the Dalhousie Law School, Dalhousie University.Review:
'One of the most in-depth studies in the area of indigenous knowledge and property rights to date, this work provides a thorough examination of the role of law and public policy in addressing the rift between Western and non-Western knowledge systems and the crisis of legitimacy in the conventional intellectual property system.' (African Technology Development Forum Journal (Featured Book, Fall 2006))
'Dr. Oguamanam advocates for a "bottom-up" approach in dealing with how to best preserve and protect traditional knowledge ... In so doing, a solution can be crafted which will provide protection for traditional knowledge in a manner that is respectful of indigenous and local peoples' cultural identities. Ultimately, this type of solution will create a strong foundation upon which enduring indigenous political empowerment can be achieved.' (Graham Reynolds, Alberta Law Review Supplement)
'International Law and Indigenous Knowledge by Chidi Oguamanam is a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion over preservation of the integrity of traditional knowledge and Indigenous ways of knowing. The author provides solid scaffolds to navigate the complex negotiations and intersections between international law and Indigenous property rights in evolving, diverse contexts.' (Thom Alcoze, Canadian Journal of Native Studies)
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