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This article takes anthropologists’ renewed interest in property theory as an opportunity to consider legal theory-making as an ethnographic subject in its own right. My focus is on one particular construct – the instrument, or relation of means to ends, that animates both legal and anthropological theories about property. An analysis of the workings of this construct leads to the conclusion that rather than critique the ends of legal knowledge, the anthropology of property should devote itself to articulating its own means.