Rethinking the Work of Geographical Indications in Asia: Addressing Hidden Geographies of Gendered Labour
In Irene Calboli and Ng-Loy Wee Loon, eds. Geographical Indications at the Crossroads of Trade and Development in Asia, 87-121. Cambridge University Press (2017)
35 Pages Posted: 1 May 2019
Date Written: June 6, 2017
Geographical Indications (GIs) were established as a distinctive category of intellectual property (IP) in the 1994 Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) Agreement. Reflecting this broad field of legal vehicles, marks indicating conditions of origin (MICOs) denote indications of source, appellations of origin, denominations of origin, and collective trademarks and certification marks. This chapter recognizes the limitations of GIs, examining a need for greater empirical study of the regulations governing their use. Most academic scholarship fails to investigate the social relations between labourers, landowners, producers, and GI institutions, or political movements for decolonization. This chapter, therefore, suggests that local GI governance must be analyzed within a broader scope that encompasses class, ethnicity, and gender. We begin by exploring Darjeeling Tea as a famous form of national GI in India that reflects some of the ideological tendencies of MICO systems. We then demonstrate the global significance of MICO governance by providing insight into contemporary political ecology in Southeast Asia. By examining palm oil expansion, the decline in swidden agriculture, and subsequent environmental and cultural effects, we outline a crisis of biocultural diversity in the region. Lastly, this chapter inquires into the future of MICOs, looking specifically at emerging practices that might encourage alternative value systems to address both environmental and social justice concerns, including greater gender equity. Ultimately, this chapter illustrates how current uses of MICOs uphold entrenched social hierarchies and therefore must be reoriented towards rights-based development and social justice objectives.
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