Wright, Sarah. “Globalizing Governance: The Case of Intellectual Property Rights in the Philippines.” Political Geography 27 7 (2008): 721-39. Print.
Wright’s article investigates the passage of the Philippine Plant Variety Protection Act. Passed in the Philippines in 2002, this piece of legislation restricts the ability of Philippine farmers to save and exchange the seeds they use to plan crops each year. What is remarkable about this law is the fact that the intellectual property rights regime established in its passage is far more stringent than the IP requirements imposed by the WTO’s TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement. By conducting interviews with numerous politicians, social movement activists, policy makers, and farm industry representatives, Wright uncovers the complex interrelated relationships among distant globalized trade, local social and political forces, and WTO-initiated neoliberal economic restructuring in the Philippine islands.
Wright is responding to the call for “embodied geographies” in her paper in order to pay close scholarly attention to the meta processes of economic geography while also being attentive to real-world specificities, “culcative processes” and place-based studies (722) in order to situate globalization as a multilayered, contingent process that occurs on a “glocal” scale. By interviewing multiple people and considering the history of the Philippines to international intellectual property rights, Wright is able to draw a couple of conclusions – namely: This Philippine state created a new form of property right (a right on living organisms) when it passed the Plant Variety Protection Act in the hopes of more successfully integrating itself into a progressively globalizing neoliberal economic system; however, the privatization of knowledge that occurs as a result of the act negatively affects small farmers who are unable to combat the extension of capitalist relations into the process of small-scale agricultural production. Despite resistance from social movements, their lack of uniform platform or alternative vision prevented them from being effective. In the end, Wright’s work demonstrates that by paying special attention to the macro and micro contexts of intellectual property rights regime change in the Philippines, a more nuanced and specific account of the multilayered process of “globalizing” is achieved.