Drawing upon feminist postcolonial technoscience, I examine how neoliberal legal orders of patent ownership and benefit sharing are producing new notions of recognition as structured through gendered and racialized colonial pasts. Central to this inquiry are struggles over the patenting of Hoodia gordonii, a succulent plant in Southern Africa used for generations by San peoples to stave off hunger and then patented by South African scientists in 1998 to treat obesity. In response, San peoples negotiated a benefit-sharing agreement in 2003, whereby scientists agreed to give them a percentage of royalties from future Hoodia sales. Through historical, ethnographic research, I examine how South African scientists and Indigenous San peoples, through claims for patent ownership and benefit sharing, simultaneously reinforce and contest racialized and gendered histories related to colonial bioprospecting of Hoodia and historical constructions of San peoples as Other. In doing so, I consider how South African scientists and San peoples are mediated in similar, yet unequal, ways through the cultural, historical, material, and socio-legal structures of the political economy of plant medicines.
Foster, Laura A. 2016. "Decolonizing Patent Law: Postcolonial Technoscience and Indigenous Knowledge in South Africa." Feminist Formations 28 (3).