25 Years

Institutions and Solidarity: Wild Rice Research and the Commodification of Knowledge

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 12:00pm
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Event Location: 
537 Heller Hall

Presented by Melanie Bowman

Department of Philosophy

ICGC Global Food Security Fellow
Abstract: In this paper I express pessimism about the ability of universities and other knowledge-producing institutions to be in genuine solidarity with food justice and food-sovereignty movements, given the way these institutions treat knowledge as a commodity. Using a distinction between worldviews that treat knowledge as a commodity and worldviews that do not, I examine a particular case concerning attitudes toward knowledge about wild rice and their role in the struggle to repair the relationship between University of Minnesota researchers and the Anishinaabe people. The tendency to treat knowledge as a commodity is hard to avoid within universities and other knowledge-producing institutions, given entrenched norms that support the colonizing role these institutions these institutions have historically played. Attention to the effects of commodifying knowledge ought to be a priority if we are interested in producing knowledge that supports, rather than harms movements for liberation, sovereignty, and justice.