The Emotional Politics of Piracy, Or Why We Feel Intellectual Property Infringement as National Trauma
Thursday, December 07, 2017 at 5:00pm to 6:30pm
Building 56, 114
21 AMES ST, Cambridge, MA 02139
Embracing the recent turns toward the study of public feelings, this talk examines the emotional politics of intellectual property “piracy.” Situating the figure of the pirate within larger narratives of Americanness, meritocracy, hard work, and postrace advanced in political speeches and media representations, it reads public feelings about the exceptional inventiveness and industriousness of US workers as context for intellectual property policy. Specifically, couching piracy as the unjust theft of the work of industrious and uniquely creative Americans fosters sentiments of pride, entitlement, resentment, and anxiety. When taken together, these public feelings transform intellectual property infringement into racialized piratical trauma, which threatens the very fabric of the nation. The everdayness and banality of piratical trauma fuels desires for intellectual property maximalism and intellectual property criminalization, which reproduce the very conditions which gave rise to the trauma.
Anjali Vats is Assistant Professor of Communication and African and African Diaspora Studies at Boston College and Assistant Professor of Law, by courtesy, at Boston College Law School. She is currently working on a monograph entitled Created Differences: Intellectual Properties and Racial Formation in the Making of Americans which considers how intellectual property discourses shape our understandings of race, citizenship, and the capacity to engage in valuable intellectual labor. She has published articles in the Quarterly Journal of Speech, Communication, Culture & Critique, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, and Southern Communication Journal. She has also co-authored law review articles in the Duquesne Law Review and Wayne Law Review. In 2016, Professor Vats was awarded an AAUW Postdoctoral Fellowship and an Exemplary Diversity Scholar Citation from the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan. Prior to teaching, she clerked for the Honorable A. William Maupin of the Supreme Court of Nevada.