See my post for guidelines for today's class discussion online.

1. How can we connect Coombe’s ideas about authorship to Boyle? Specifically, are there differences in how they conceive of romantic authorship historically? How does Coombe’s use of ethnography complicate or expand upon the critical theory of culture and law that she discusses?

2. Coombe discusses the conflict behind the methodology of using “proprietary counterclaims” (204) as a way of attaining some form of agency in dealing with the hegemonic Western legal system. Framing these counterclaims as theft of cultural property rather than “assertions of harm” (204) becomes a case of trying to tear down the master’s house with the master’s tools. Coombe notes Handler as saying that such a strategy of using “a language that power understands” is a necessity in order to gain any political power (or even presence) at all (242). Considering her last discussion of free speech/free expression, is an ethics of contingency feasible?

3. In looking at cases such as the Washington Redskins and others, what is the “usefulness” of counterpublicity as a tactic for transformative social change?


Tiffany Christian
1/22/2013 17:39:04

My focus (as presenter) is on the second half of the book, where Coombe discusses trademarks as embodied and sites of struggle, the politics of “possessing” identity, the notion of authorship and alterity and, finally, she calls for an ethics of contingency.

Several concepts caught my attention in going over this part of the book. The first is the idea of counterpublicity, the term she uses to show how subaltern groups use mimesis as a way of protesting the colonial/imperial nature of trademarks. The idea is that trademarks are designed to appeal to a essentialized consumer-subject. But that consumer-subject is hegemonic, and the particular marks that are sometimes chosen create clear distinctions between the essential, unmarked Self and the marked Other. So, historically, the use of trademarks such as Aunt Jemima, Frito Bandito, Crazy Horse and even Paul Bunyan in a consumer market that both essentializes and erases actual living peoples.

It never really occurred to me before to think of Paul Bunyan specifically as a trademark, and likely that’s due to my own compartmentalizing of the areas of law, commerce, and culture (particularly folk cultures). I knew that he is a constructed folk hero, but I never thought of him as “selling something” until I read this and realized that, oh yeah, he’s selling “America.” But who’s America? Hence the trouble with the sign of Bunyan and the acts of resistance to Bunyan by the Chippewa (178-179).

I had asked the question, “What is the “usefulness” of counterpublicity as a tactic for transformative social change?” One answer that Coombe gives in discussing the con safos mark is that “it registers sympathy and contact to assert alternative bodies occupying alternative spaces” (183). Is that enough? What else does counterpublicity do, or what else can it do? Is Coombe expecting too much from this concept as a method of resistance?

At the end of Chapter 4, Coombe discusses the conflict behind the methodology of using “proprietary counterclaims” (204) as a way of attaining some form of agency within the hegemonic Western legal system. Framing these counterclaims as theft of cultural property rather than “assertions of harm” (204) becomes a case of trying to tear down the master’s house with the master’s tools. Coombe notes Handler as saying that such a strategy of using “a language that power understands” is a necessity in order to gain any political power (or even presence) at all (242). How does this strategy work in claiming “theft” of intellectual property, and does it cause more harm than good? (Consider Lizeth’s question about the use of strategic essentialism)

In Chapter Five, Coombe explores the struggle of story-makers to portray characters (or even whole communities) in cultures from which they do not belong. This is a struggle for many writers. The critique of writing out of one’s context is that story-makers of alterity should have the agency to tell their own stories. The problem I have is not one of free speech and Romantic authorship but rather social context. She says, “The social experiences of authors inevitably shape their voices” (212). In other words, writers are not generally making everything up in their heads; in fact, many writers ground their fiction in their real life experiences (yes, even in sci-fi and fantasy). That being said, how can we determine who is an “authentic” voice for any literary work? This is totally situational, I realize, but if a writer has social experience that allows him/her some sensitivity towards subaltern groups, is it still considered “appropriation” to write about, or even in the voice, of said people?

In thinking about the above question, I couldn’t help but think 1) about my own work as a creative writer, and 2) about the Henrietta Lacks book and its “author,” Rebecca Skloot. I won’t go into my own struggles, but in various classes I’ve had the same issue crop again and again with regard to Skloot – what makes her qualified to write Henrietta’s story, as opposed to members of her own family? Even with the decade or so of fieldwork that she did? Is there an element of the “Great White Hero” implicit in Skloot’s text?

(Convo Leap)

Is an ethics of contingency feasible? Consider Somava’s question: who decides what is ethical? Does this strategy still perpetuate hegemonic ideas about right/wrong, good/bad?

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Rachel A. Sauerbier
1/22/2013 18:10:29

1. How can we connect Coombe’s ideas about authorship to Boyle? Specifically, are there differences in how they conceive of romantic authorship historically? How does Coombe’s use of ethnography complicate or expand upon the critical theory of culture and law that she discusses?

I feel like there were a lot of parallels between Boyle’s idea of the Romantic author and Coombe’s conceptualization of it. For example, on page 211, Coombe (1998) makes the following observation about the Romantic author: “…everything in the world must be made available and accessible as an ‘idea’ that can be transformed into his ‘expression,’ which thus becomes his ‘work.’ Through his labor, he makes these ‘ideas’ his own; his possession of the ‘work’ is justified by his expressive activity” (p. 211). There are a couple of similarities in this statement to Boyle's notions of the Romantic author: one, both of them recognize the importance that is put on the difference between "ideas" and "expression." Also, they both recognize the shift between manual labor that marked the industrial revolution and era and the sort of technological labor that is the hallmark of the industrial era.

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Tiffany
1/22/2013 18:30:38

Indeed, and that's a great quote to bring up especially because I was so hung up on "labor" during the Boyle discussion. Coombe made clearer to me about the difference between the "creative" (I almost put that with a capital C...maybe I should have left it) labor that many authors claim as the justification for intellectual property rights, and the manual labor necessary for producing a physical manuscript (or any meaning-making product). The first sort of labor is harder to justify, I would say, for both Boyle and Coombe, since as I noted above, authors' works are based on their social experiences and thus are not exclusive to them and never have been. But can we say that the author should have some "right" to the exclusivity of the manual labor used to produce the product? In this sense it is something akin to manufacturing workers selling their labor in exchange for a wage. And, of course, many authors operate in said fashion (journalists, company bloggers, academics?, etc.). But what about the person who creates a painting or writes a book on zir's own time, with zir's own resources? The law acknowledges intellectual property, which is problematic, but if instead it recognized the physical labor involved in creating these works, would that make a difference? Or make things worse? Am I at all coherent?

Jen
1/22/2013 18:53:05

I agree with Rachel that Coombe and Boyle approach the idea of the romantic author in similar ways. Both critique of romantic authorship because it tends to serve the interests of dominant social groups. Both take issue with its limited understanding of creative production as involving individuals rather than social contexts. Both point to how the romantic-author construct functions as the principal metaphor for understanding IP in the US legal system and how the uncritical adoption of this metaphor does not lead us to consider the larger cultural or social issues involved in the ownership of information or culture.

However, I think there are some important differences between Boyle and Coombe. First, each is writing for a different audience with different values and scholarly backgrounds. Boyle positions himself in legal studies but attempts to make his book accessible for scholars in other diciplines. Coombe is a cultural studies scholar talking about law to other cultural studies scholars. Boyle spends a lot of time drawing out his critique of the romantic author, and allots more time to considering counterarguments. He repeats multiple times that the concept of romantic authorship is not really all that bad (in fact, he admits to buying in to it)—we just need to revise our notion of authorship a little to make up for the aforementioned “blindnesses.” Coombe on the other hand builds her argument about the “cultural life of intellectual properties” out of the assumption that the romantic-author concept is not only outdated, but deeply problematic. She assumes that her audience is familiar with this critique and limits her explanation of this idea to name dropping and footnotes.

A second difference is their understanding of what is at stake. Coombe is concerned with the ways that questions of authorship are tied into colonialism and questions of identity formation. Boyle, on the other hands, admits that at least half of his concern is with creating the most economically productive (yet still ethical) IP system.

Rachel A. Sauerbier
1/22/2013 18:23:32

2. Coombe discusses the conflict behind the methodology of using “proprietary counterclaims” (204) as a way of attaining some form of agency in dealing with the hegemonic Western legal system. Framing these counterclaims as theft of cultural property rather than “assertions of harm” (204) becomes a case of trying to tear down the master’s house with the master’s tools. Coombe notes Handler as saying that such a strategy of using “a language that power understands” is a necessity in order to gain any political power (or even presence) at all (242). Considering her last discussion of free speech/free expression, is an ethics of contingency feasible?

Tiffany, it is interesting that you used the term "tearing down the master's house with the master's tools" to describe that quotation from Handler, not only because that is exactly what I had written in the margins of the book at that quotation, but also because I see that as treading on some dangerous territory within the realm of subaltern cultures gaining access to the public sphere. In chapter 4, Coombe (1998) engages Fraser during the discussion of the public sphere. In the same book chapter that Coombe (1998) quoted from Nancy Fraser, Fraser (1992) goes on to say the following: "Even the language people use as they reason together usually favors one way of seeing things and discourages others. Subordinate groups sometimes cannot find the right voice or words to express their thoughts, and when they do, they discover they are not heard” (p. 119). It is because of this that I think the notion of "using a language that power understands" is a little more complicated than Coombe is giving it credit. To once again paraphrase Fraser, just because you know the language does not necessarily mean that anyone is listening.

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Rachel A. Sauerbier
1/22/2013 18:59:00

3. In looking at cases such as the Washington Redskins and others, what is the “usefulness” of counterpublicity as a tactic for transformative social change?

While I understand Coombe's (1998) argument that "...Native Americans may receive more attention and media respect (as well as new hostilities) for their grievances and social concerns at precisely the the moment when these stereotypes are most prominent..." (p. 198), my concern is mostly with the parenthetical side comment she makes in that quotation and the other "unexpecteds" that come from these ambivalent moment of media attention. As DeLuca (2005) pointed out in Image Politics, these forms of protest that piggyback off of a larger media spectacle can be wildly successful for the protesting group, but it can also bring even more negative publicity and ire for the group. Also, there is the concern about understanding exactly what the protest is about. Tangentially related is the notion of satire in media spectacles like the Chappelle Show, where Dave Chappelle mocked media representations of African Americans through mimicry. He eventually stopped the show because rather than seeing it as the satire that it was, most audiences took it as a literal representation of African American life in the United States, thereby perpetuating the stereotypes he was trying to critique. In the same way, I am cautious to endorse Coombe's (1998) idea that using negative images as a platform of correction can be an effective way of creating transformative social change.

In addition to whether or not counterpublicity being a useful tactic or not for transformative social change, I was also struck by Coombe's (1998) following observation: "Owners of these marks like to quote Indians who do not object to these marks to support their own reluctance to abandon them...Chief Jonathan Ed Taylor is quoted as saying that the Redskin name...'gives our people recognition. The most important thing is that it employs my people. It means our people will get work and not stand in welfare lines. Welfare lines are a lot more degrading than using the name Redskins'" (p. 187). This was problematic to me for a couple of reasons. First, it points to the systemic denigration Native Americans face in society. The lose-lose choice between poverty or buying into the racist branding of a native culture is appalling and points a larger issue of marginalization of native people today. Second, it brought up notions of Spivak's native informant. Just because the owners of the Redskins, in this example, have found one (or a few) Native American to acquiesce to the use of racist or stereotypical team names does not mean that this one native informant speaks for all the other cultures of native people those marks marginalize.

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Somava
1/22/2013 19:22:34

I agree with Rachel. For the indigenous people it is always a lose- lose situation. In my discourse analysis class last semester for my final project was analysis of news media discourses regarding pollution in the Spokane river and the near by water bodies. Not surprisingly there have been quite a few uprise from the reservations in the area against the high level of pollutants. But again not surprisingly media has criticized them by calling them as reapers of benefit at good times and now blaming the non- natives in time of environmental crisis. What would you say, it is a double toothed saw for them!!!

Tiffany
1/22/2013 19:40:48

"Also, there is the concern about understanding exactly what the protest is about" (Rachel).

I think this is a huge part of the problem for me, and why counterpublicity is problematic as a methodology for awareness. In thinking about the con safos example, I'm guessing that many people who might see that mark in public would have no idea what it means or perhaps find a way to render it invisible. Coombe says that in the use of the c/s mark, "The trademark form is altered to assert a cultural difference, to assert (an)other body in the body politic and challenge the illusion of national homogeneity that might otherwise go unremarked in the public sphere" (180). The same logic is in play regarding the Chippewa and the Paul Bunyan statues. Would the dominant culture see anything but simple vandalism in these alter marks?

Jen
1/22/2013 20:01:11

So this:

"I am cautious to endorse Coombe's (1998) idea that using negative images as a platform of correction can be an effective way of creating transformative social change." (Rachel)

Absolutely. We can think of culture as being made out of a series of narratives. Each narrative has a certain "frame" (think of a perspective shot of a certain character in a movie). Using parody to correct or critique a negative image what is sometimes called "denying the frame" (challenging the perspective). I do think that parody is an important tool for resistance and social change, but it is also important to provide alternative frames, to tell alternative stories.

Lizeth Gutierrez
1/22/2013 18:55:05

Tiffany you raise a lot of interesting points and I also couldn’t help but think about Skloot’s privilege in her narration of Henrietta Lack’s life. Coombe makes a very interesting point when she discusses the importance of situational ethics. I was thinking about the role of whiteness in our conceptualization of universality since it is often considered the voice of neutrality. However, Coombe talks about history having different trajectories for different people, and people of color have historically been fetishized, commodified and consumed as bodies that pose no real threat to whiteness in mass-media productions. Coombe discusses white artistic license in order to show the dangers of our westernized understandings of authorial imaginations. She says,

"No one, of course, asks white authors what gives them authority to speak on behalf of artistic license, or what criteria of representatives they fulfill in order to make claims in the name of authorial imagination. Nor do we expect uniform positions on the parameters of freedom of speech. The ability to speak on behalf of “universal” values is assumed, even as we argue what their contents might be, whereas people of aboriginal ancestry are often challenged when they name themselves and their categorizations" (243).

Coombe unpacks the historical power of whiteness as an ideological process that continues to shape our understandings of cultural appropriation. She addresses the importance of looking at questions of cultural appropriation as political representations of culture since the type of language we have socially and politically constructed in order to produce or challenge Western ideological productions of authentic identity is so ingrained in our discourses of power. Skloot’s book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, has received an enormous amount of publicity and recognition, so much so, that it is a freshman must-read for many universities all over the country. Would the book have received the same mainstream recognition if it was written by a person of color? It is not to say that the person have color has or would have the authentic voice to speak about Lack’s material reality, but what Skloot’s success shows us is the value of “neutrality” in political productions of cultural appropriation. Her authorial white privilege exposes the cultural hegemony of the U.S. because as Coombe says, we don’t question white authority because it disguises itself under artistic expression. I am not saying that Skloot has no artistic legitimacy in her production of the book; however, we understand artistic expression in very Eurocentric processes. If cultural hegemony has been historically constructed in this country through Eurocentric discourses of power, how is Skloot’s work both a hegemonic and counterhegemonic production?

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Tiffany
1/22/2013 19:29:31

"If cultural hegemony has been historically constructed in this country through Eurocentric discourses of power, how is Skloot’s work both a hegemonic and counterhegemonic production?" (Lizeth)

What drew my attention in the very intro to the book is how Skloot attempts to answer...not this exact question, but something like it. Basically, she tries to account somewhat for her own privilege by letting the reader know that, where possible, she has put transcribed direct dialogue from the family so that their "voices" are heard. She also implicitly states that her work in gaining the trust of Deborah and the other family members somehow mitigates some of that privilege because they trusted her to tell their story. And this is the continuing struggle of anyone who does this kind of fieldwork...the haunted legacy of anthropology and folklore. Did Skloot "allow" the Lackses to look at what she wrote before she published? How much reflexivity is required before one feels absolved of the charge of authorial privilege? And granted, Skloot has set up the Henrietta Lacks Foundation so that some of the profits from sales go toward Henrietta's descendants, but does that make up for the fact that her voice gives authenticity/authority to the story?

"Situational ethics" as a concept makes my brain hurt because I keep coming back to Somava's question: who decides what is ethical in a particular situation? Can I ever be "counterhegemonic" if I'm white, despite my best efforts at sensitivity?

Questions leading to more questions....fun!

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Somava
1/22/2013 19:02:29

Hi Tiffany,

I responding to your first question regarding difference between Boyle and Coombe, I would say Coombe did a better job in describing the concept of the author. If you remember my critique last week was Foucault need to be more explicitly discussed when we think about the "author." Coombe does that very well. In p. 59 when she talks about Authorizing the corporate persona, she explicitly states how she builds on Foucault's conception of an author and then traces the trajectory of corporate persona. I believe Foucault has provided us with valuable tools to understand our consumerist mass culture and Coombe efficiently uses the tool to explain the IP questions hauting our information society.

With respect to her ethnographic approach as I have stated in my response Coombe's approach evades the critiques of political scientists who have accused that anthropologists and ethnologists have insufficiently differentiated between power and authority and ignored the informal aspect of social pressure as the dominant means of social control. Coombe through her critical ethnographic approach (that has significant contribution for both cultural and legal theories) has analyzed cultural authorship (with reference to Foucault's discourse) and the arbitrary character of some judicial decisions about intellectual property and social control (p. 100).

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Tiffany
1/22/2013 19:53:46

I see Boyle and Coombe working in tandem with regard to the concept of the romantic author. As Jen commented above, Boyle spends more time laying out the history of the concept, which Coombe then picks up on to expand on the contemporary issues.

While Coombe does not address all of the concerns around ethnography as methodology, she does at least discuss some of them in the introduction, which eased my mind somewhat (I have to keep reminding myself that this was published in 1998).

"the informal aspect of social pressure as the dominant means of social control" -- I would love for you to expand on this so's I can connect it to what Coombe is doing. :)

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Somava
1/22/2013 21:56:40

Hi Tiffany,
I missed this question. I think Coombe here is talking about the conception of biopower as stated by Foucault. Previous scholars have neglected that. We can talk more about once we meet!!!

See you all next week.

Jen
1/22/2013 19:54:41

So this:

"I would say Coombe did a better job in describing the concept of the author. If you remember my critique last week was Foucault need to be more explicitly discussed when we think about the 'author.'" (Somava)

I find your assessment of Coombe interesting. As someone who is not in cultural studies (i.e. I haven't taken any AMST classes yet, didn't take the theory class most of you took together last semester), it makes sense to me that you would prefer Coombe's approach to authorship over Boyle's. Coombe is better able to speak to you about authorship through shared knowledge than Boyle is.

Perhaps no one else finds these observations interesting, but it has been a real pleasure for me to consider our texts and discussions as a disciplinary outsider.

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Jorge
1/22/2013 19:48:41

1. How can we connect Coombe’s ideas about authorship to Boyle? Specifically, are there differences in how they conceive of romantic authorship historically? How does Coombe’s use of ethnography complicate or expand upon the critical theory of culture and law that she discusses?

Great questions Tiffany! Similar to the eighteenth century liberal intellectual perspective, whereby authors had “ceased to think of themselves as either craftsmen, gentlemen, or amanuenses for the Divine spirit [and] a more romantic air of superiority began to emerge” (Boyle, pp. 54), it seems that the debate of whether Canada’s Council should prevent funds over “writers who wrote about cultures other than their own” is very much rooted in the same thought: liberal individualism. As the many protesting writers made explicit, having the Canadian Government protect the rights of historically marginalized people in preserving and dictating their own narratives was akin to of Hitler’s Gulag, or Orwell’s fictional account of a totalitarian regime. Canadian authors, it seems, find it unproblematic to defend their rights in exercising authorship over other people, and as such, remain blinded by their own social locality and position.

Regrading your inquiry as to how it pertains to Boyle’s analysis of the Romantic idea of authorship (Boyle pp. 56-60), Coombe’s example of Romantic individualism are very much founded along the same vein. For one, when Boyle writes, quoting Paul Goldstein, “copyright, in a word, is about authorship” is highly emblematic to when Coombe writes, quoting protesting writer Richard Outram, “…I will not submit to such censorship.” (Coombe, pp. 211). This is helpful to contextualize the role that authorship continues to have regarding the possibilities of addressing cultural and social inequity via the realm of intellectual property, or in this week’s overall argument, that of authoring the appropriating of alterities.

Lastly, I do believe Tiffany that it both complicates and expands on critical theories of culture and socio-legal studies. Coombe’s usage of ethnography provides case studies by which we can trace the historical and cultural commodification of alterity cultures.

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Jorge
1/22/2013 19:50:21

2. Coombe discusses the conflict behind the methodology of using “proprietary counterclaims” (204) as a way of attaining some form of agency in dealing with the hegemonic Western legal system. Framing these counterclaims as theft of cultural property rather than “assertions of harm” (204) becomes a case of trying to tear down the master’s house with the master’s tools. Coombe notes Handler as saying that such a strategy of using “a language that power understands” is a necessity in order to gain any political power (or even presence) at all (242). Considering her last discussion of free speech/free expression, is an ethics of contingency feasible?

This is a very interesting point Tiffany. Connecting this to something I wrote about this week, specifically the contestation over trade marking and redefining Crazy Horse (Coombe, pp. 199-204), Coombe’s analysis here suggests that within the current cultural landscape that oversees intellectual property rights, spaces of resistance will inevitably be made vulnerable to western practices of law and Culture. While I remain unsure as to whether an “ethics of contingency” is possible given the dominant regulation of culture as material possessions, I do agree with Coombe in her articulation that to override historical inaccuracies, will inevitably have to take place [unfortunately] within the current framework of western legal codes and Cultural norms.

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Jorge
1/22/2013 19:53:12

3. In looking at cases such as the Washington Redskins and others, what is the “usefulness” of counter publicity as a tactic for transformative social change?

Hmm, I am not sure about whether counter publicity can be a useful tactic for transformative social change Tiffany. While Coombe’s ethnographic approach provides us with a myriad of voices, and reasoning behind this particular example of cultural appropriation, (those who view the copyright trademark of “Redskin” as paying homage to First Peoples: pp. 189, and as well as the binary positioning that Native peoples place themselves in regarding the argument profit redistribution over cultural prostitution: pp. 187), I don’t believe counter publicity would do much regarding uplifting the colonial and violent imagination that (apologies on this generalization) the majority of American football fans have yet to do away with.

This might be a stretch, but I’ll give it a shot anyways. What comes to mind is the events that Los Angeles residents experienced years prior to the building of Dodger Stadium. As a concentrated Mexican-American low-income community in the 1950’s, city developers used language of eminent domain, and deployed “Spanish speaking” agents to persuade homeowners to sell, historically known as the Battle for Chavez Ravine. Protests in 2010 against the building of a football stadium in the city of Lynwood testify of the cyclical dominance that sport entertainment and its corporate fiscal hegemony has in determining not only team trademarks, but the allocation of stadiums. Counter publicity as a form of protest is helpful, but as 2012 suggests, transformative social change will require a good deal more. Check out the link:
http://deadspin.com/5947613/los-angeles-got-its-football-stadium-now-it-just-needs-a-team.
It seems the only thing LA is missing now is their own "redskin" trademark. Or perhaps its just me. What do y'all think?

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Annita
1/22/2013 21:40:18

Okay I'm a little late to the game so I'm gonna try to address some of the main points I see re: the master's tools & counterpublicity, because to me those seem the most salient to the larger discussion on contingencies:

This discourse on the master's tools is lacking in specificity in a really fundamental way. In the case of Native peoples, these conversations have to be contextualized in a larger landscape of culture, citizenship, and colonialism. The one descendant of Crazy Horse that did speak out against the malt liquor, for example, was violating Crazy Horse's wishes and Lakota cultural traditions in doing so, and admitted that due to his choice to speak out and publicly own his ancestry, he was alienated from his Lakota community and 'was never able to really return home.' That's a powerful feeling for a lot of us who defy cultural norms, particularly those of us that leave reservations to acquire some of the master's tools to use for the benefit of our own peoples. In the process many of us, myself included, become simultaneously both and neither, with our voices largely going unheard in both arenas. This is a heartbreaking experience to have and yet many of us feel forced into it--do I leave in hopes of bettering my community and risk never truly being able to come back, or do I stay and watch my people struggle? This is strikingly similar to Rachel and Somava's discussion of the Braves endorsement by Cherokee officials (it's worth noting there are three separate Cherokee nations however and not all of them endorse the logo; additionally, Atlanta is also Creek territory and to the best of my knowledge they have not formally endorsed the mascot either). It seems here that not only are Natives forced into a lose-lose position with their people and their integrity, but also even in this discourse--whatever choice they make is somehow open to settler criticism, its political nature inextricably tied to inescapable problematics. That's not fair either.

This I think ties into the conversation on counterpublicity as well. Who is counterpublicity for? Who are settlers to judge Native forms of activism against colonial violence? Some may argue that counterpublicity is in part for educational purposes and is thus *for* settlers, but again I think things are more complicated than that. Counterpublicity can be a kind of healing, and it can rally communities together. These questions of effectiveness of counterpublicity against things like the Redskins are coming from a privileged perspective, considering (no matter how you twist even narratives on racist evictions), to the best of my knowledge, none of you know the hurt of a racist sports mascot first-hand. While these forms of protest may be aimed at removal of the mascot, banning of all Indian mascots (as our state has recently done), or settler education, they are also about bearing witness to the pain the logos bring. They are about speaking generations of trauma into public consciousness, about owning one's history and anger. No one can deny they're effective in that regard.

This is all to say that there are complications in these narratives that the discussion here is not doing justice to. I know a number of you are Foucault fans, so you must be aware that there are always slippages, contradictions, and overlaps in the ways power is deployed and manifested--the same is true here. I think this kind of mindfulness of specificity and of these slippages is part of Coombe's push for ethics of contingency; while she certainly acknowledges both the strengths and limitations of law, she also makes it clear that there is considerable work to do outside the realm of law, and for my part, I think that means acknowledging and doing justice to the contingencies accompanying the ways power is mobilized.

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