January 5, 2009 by Graham Dutfield
Graham Dutfield is Professor of International Governance at the University of Leeds and is an IP Osgoode Research Affiliate.
This is a plea for disciplinary disloyalty in intellectual property studies. I realise that sounds very bad – what’s good about disloyalty? But it’s not in the way I mean it. I am a geographer of sorts who was introduced to intellectual property not by a legal scholar but by ethnoecologist and indigenous rights activist Darrell Posey. And yet I have worked exclusively in law faculties since becoming a professional academic. I do ivory tower research, but my interests are also deeply practical. I have dealt over the years with diplomats, intergovernmental organisations, practitioners and activists. I have learned to write a bit like a lawyer, and I deeply respect the marvellous precision, erudition and balance one finds in the best legal scholarship. But I am definitely not one.Am I disadvantaged by this? From my admittedly partial perspective I think not. Indeed, my lack of attachment to any one academic discipline has served me well as a scholar committed to both blue skies research and policy work in intellectual property.