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Locating a Politics of Knowledge: struggles over intellectual property in the Philippines

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Intellectual property is increasingly a key item on the US-Japanese-European trade agenda, and the globalisation of the US patent standard, which includes patents on plants and processes, has become a key objective of 'information-rich' corporations and countries. While social movements act against the legal structures and spaces of knowledge associated with privatised knowledge, they also work to construct alternatives both through the development of practical alternatives such as seed-saving networks and the articulation of new discourses such as Farmers' Rights. In doing so, farmers' organisations are actively creating and maintaining spaces of alternative knowledges and formulations of property. The articulation of Farmers' Rights by social movements as a response to intellectual property is a way both of resisting regimes of intellectual property and of creating a normative framework within which claims to intellectual property are made obsolete. Drawing from empirical work based in the Philippines, I propose a concept, woven space, which refers to the diverse and overlapping alternatives and resistances that emerge from the situated and embodied struggles taking place around the world to form a differently imagined and realised global. This is a decentralised, networked space, rich with experience, shared belief, and possibilities for shared action.

Keywords: Philippines; Social movements; epistemologies; ethnography; globalisation; intellectual property; patents on life; resistance; scale; situated knowledges

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: The University of Newcastle, Australia

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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