In remembrance: Keith Aoki |

In remembrance: Keith Aoki

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On April 26, the world lost Keith Aoki, author, artist, and distinguished professor at the UC Davis law school. You've seen his work on in our Theft! A History of Music series of posts, which previewed the forthcoming comic book by the same name.

Aoki's colleague James Boyle summarized some of his most well-known work in a great memorial post to his friend:

It is hard in a few words and pictures to convey the sheer scope of Keith’s work.  Have you ever heard about so-called bio-piracy — the taking of plant genetic resources from the developing world that are then tweaked, and layered with new intellectual property rights?  Keith wrote the book on it.  Literally. 

Or did you ever wonder if aesthetics — particularly changing ideas of architecture and urban planning — had a political effect on housing patterns and segregation in American cities?  Think it would be kind of cool if someone wrote a  history of that?  Someone did.  It is called Race, Space and Place.  And it is by Keith.  Oh, and hey, it would be great if someone documented the rise of “regionalism” in US immigration politics — like the Arizonan immigration legislation.  You might want to read “Welcome to Amerizona: Immigrants Out!” Guess who wrote that. While you are at it, you could also read about critical race theory, or the distributive effects of intellectual property, or open source plant development. How about a critical  analysis of the politics of farm labor?    Try  “Pastures of Peonage?: Agricultural Concentration and Labor Migration: The Case of North America in the Early 21st Century”  Asian American electoral participation in 2008?  Keith’s got that covered too.

Boyle has since added to the blog a memorial slideshow and book. You can also download his previous comic collaboration with Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins: Bound By Law? Tales From the Public Domain.

Aoki leaves behind his wife Mona and two nine-year-old daughters. A fund is being set up for the benefit of his kids--if you'd like to donate, send an e-mail to James Boyle at

About the author

Ruth Suehle - Ruth Suehle is the community leadership manager for Red Hat's Open Source and Standards team. She's co-author of Raspberry Pi Hacks (O'Reilly, December 2013) and a senior editor at GeekMom, a site for those who find their joy in both geekery and... more about Ruth Suehle