Mothers: Sourdough as a Feminist Method in Critiques of Copyright Law

Mothers: Sourdough as a Feminist Method in Critiques of Copyright Law

Time: Saturday, 9:45 am to 11:15 am



Sydney Warshaw, Robinson Sheppard Shapiro, S.E.N.C.R.L.

Karen Lampcov, 


Key Words: Fermentation, Feminism, Intellectual Property, Copyright


Feminist legal scholars critique intellectual property law by questioning normative values and essentialist dualisms. Mind/body and culture/nature produce hierarchies of value in labour, innovation, and creativity where knowledge that does not originate in traditional, community, and familial settings is seen as more important. Further, traditional intellectual property law presumes the superiority of an original idea where all subsequent copies are not valued.

In food production, labour is gendered and shaped in the way creativity, innovation and property are culturally valued. One example is the chasm in respect between the “chef” and “home cook”. Nevertheless, recipe development, restaurant labour, and practices of preservation depend on shared knowledge and generative practices that reject alignment with the tenets of copyright law. In this workshop and discussion, my mother and I will teach participants how to make their own sourdough starters, or “mothers” while using the notion of “mothers” as a method and model for problematizing our conceptions of copying, originality, and ownership. We will use this opportunity to think about how labour and production that has been coded “female” can interact with feminist legal theory and copyright law to broaden our current values and produce new understandings of useful and productive content. Further, we will consider how food practices grounded in the natural environment, and that are designed to “reproduce,” can be valuable as legal methodological tools for thinking about normative values.