Allison Fish

Allison Fish

Postdoctoral Fellow, Innovating Communication in Scholarship Program, Peter J. Shields Library & Center for Science and Innovation Studies, University of California, Davis

Allison is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis, with the Innovating Communication in Scholarship program. She holds a J.D. from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Irvine.

Her principal interests are in the areas cultural anthropology, socio-legal studies, and science and technology studies. Two questions that have directed much of her recent work are: How is valuable intangible cultural heritage managed through legal forms and digital technologies? And How is access to this knowledge being framed as a fundamental human right and critical pathway to social enfranchisement?

Her primary research explores recent developments surrounding one key mechanism impacting access to knowledge - intellectual property rights. The project addresses the globalization and commodification of South Asian classical medical systems and the ramifications this has for local and international markets and legal systems. Fieldwork for this project took place over 18 months and is focused in India, but includes segments in California, Hong Kong, and Switzerland. In the next year she will complete a book-length manuscript, Laying Claim to Yoga: Intellectual Property, Cultural Rights, and the Digital Archive in India, related to this work.

Her next project is tentatively titled The Role of Cultural Heritage in Scholarly Innovation:  Collaborations Between Scientists and Stewards in the Era of Big Data and Open Access. This project examines (1) the ways in which scientists continue to engage intangible cultural heritage as a source (or input) of innovation & (2) how, in the era of big data, computational science, and open access, this type of collaboration is changing or taking shape. In doing so, the research addresses the turn to digitization as a means for documenting and translating intangible cultural heritage and the ways in which these intellectual assets are rendered available for expanded scholarly inquiry. Special attention will be paid to the rights regimes implicated when scholarly inquiry is based upon intangible cultural heritage and the tension that this poses for the increasingly popular push for open access to the products of scientific research. While in the earliest stages of conceptualization, she anticipates that this work will have both critical theoretical and applied components.