Laura Foster Research Collection

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    Feminism, Postcolonialism, and Technoscience
    (MIT Press, 2016-12) Foster, Laura; Subramaniam, Banu; Harding, Sandra; Roy, Deboleena; TallBear, Kim
    This chapter identifies an emerging cluster of work that brings together the intersecting concerns of science and technology studies (STS), feminist STS, and postcolonial STS. We begin by identifying a few of the central themes in each field and then introduce an emerging cluster of scholarship that works across all three. We then discuss three recent themes that highlight the key issues for STS: (1) critiques of colonial science and its hierarchies of gender/race/class, (2) Latin American decolonial theory and its feminist insights, and (3) how indigenous peoples' knowledge challenges all three of the above mentioned fields. We end with some reflections for the future of STS by arguing for more scholarly work that engages with all three of these intersecting fields. We believe that this is important for the field of STS because a singular focus on gender, race, coloniality, or indigeneity alone leaves numerous gaps in our understanding of the co-constitution of science and society.
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    Tensions Related to Openness in Researching Indigenous Peoples’ Knowledge Systems and Intellectual Property Rights
    (University of Ottawa Press, 2019-10-01) Foster, Laura; Traynor, Cath; Schonwetter, Tobias
    This chapter explores issues of boundaries in practices of open science regarding research involving indigenous peoples in South Africa. We start considering colonial notions of ‘science’ and ‘openness’, and how historical injustices and lack of redress influence the context in which our current research sits. Our research broadly aimed to develop a political, ecological approach to understanding the relationship between climate change, intellectual property, and indigenous peoples. Our approach was influenced by ‘decolonizing methodologies’ and feminist perspectives, and we employed participatory action research methodologies to guide not just the substantive, but also procedural elements of the research. We discuss our experience with developing ‘community-researcher contracts’ in an attempt to make ourselves as researchers more accountable to Indigenous Nama and Griqua communities and to adequately protect their indigenous knowledge. The challenges of negotiating the contracts is described and how we conceptualized the concept of a “situated openness” - a way of doing research that assumes knowledge production and dissemination is situated within particular historical, political, socio-cultural, and legal relations.
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    Situating Feminism, Patent Law, and the Public Domain
    (Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, 2011-01-01) Foster, Laura
    Both critical intellectual property studies and feminist legal scholarship seldom address the gendered dimensions of patent law or its implications for women and women’s rights. This lack of attention raises awareness of the need to broaden our approach to studies of patent law and the public domain. During recent fieldwork in South Africa, I began to consider patent law as a feminist site of inquiry and to think through the difficulties of such an examination. Khomani San women in the northern Cape express concerns over the patenting of biological and genetic materials derived from their indigenous traditional knowledge. Maintaining control over their knowledge and resources is important for feeding their families and safeguarding their intellectual histories and heritage as female plant gatherers. The Khomani San peoples are currently engaged in political struggles against patent law and the ownership of their indigenous knowledge, but such organizing has not been explicitly gender-based. Although some Khomani San women articulate patent law as a women’s rights issue, other women in the community consider issues of patent law to be gender-neutral. Concerns arising from patent ownership of indigenous knowledge are also not the main priority. Khomani San women committed to gender-based political organizing explain the difficulties of mobilizing and educating indigenous San women in their communities. Political organizing takes money and resources, and San communities are spread out over great distances within South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia, making meetings difficult to arrange. Issues of patent law are also not as significant or pressing as the material conditions of domestic violence, substance abuse, and poverty facing San women and their families right now. Thus, Khomani San men and women are involved in struggles against patent law, yet their political work does not explicitly address the connections between patent ownership and gendered social relations.
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    Critical Cultural Translation: A Socio-Legal Framework for Regulatory Orders
    (Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, 2014) Foster, Laura
    The making of legal regulatory orders has become increasingly transnational as legal ideas travel and are adopted, discarded, and refigured. Socio-legal scholars have recently turned to the framework of translation to guide examinations of how law changes from one context to the next and how law itself translates and transforms the subjects and objects it governs. Drawing upon science studies and feminist theory, this article develops critical cultural translation as possible socio-legal methodology and praxis for the study of transnational regulatory orders. Furthering this line of inquiry, it addresses the regulation of benefit sharing and the patenting of indigenous San peoples' knowledge in Southern Africa. Critical cultural translation involves a responsibility towards social justice and openness to disorientation, whereby normative legal meanings and language are broken up and reconfigured to allow for a plurality of coalitional politics towards more meaningful social change.