DentJournal of Linguistic Anthropology. Volume 23, Issue 2, pages E48–E65, August 2013

Abstract:  Policy is made in small-scale situations mediated by language. This article examines the ways in which the United States Trade Representative establishes a mandate by esoterically interpreting canonical texts and then using that mandate to filter testimony. Its goal is to maintain a watch list of countries that disrespect intellectual property. This involves managing intertextual relations in ways that efface some perspectives and highlight others, while creating three subjectivities: industry, public interest, and foreign governments. The end result is a policy document of markedly partial epistemology that combines direct citation of industry statements with obscure pronouncements that lack empirical basis.  The article concludes by considering the ways in which policy-makers modulate between specificity and non-specificity in order to build their authority. In this case, as in others, this authority supports corporations over public-interest groups.

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