Academic journal article The Geographical Review

Contesting Pisco: Chile, Peru, and the Politics of Trade

Academic journal article The Geographical Review

Contesting Pisco: Chile, Peru, and the Politics of Trade

Article excerpt

Economic globalization presents many challenges to regulation of production and exchange. Among these challenges is the issue of intellectual property rights. The questions regarding intellectual property rights range from how best to protect patents, copyrights, and trademarks at the global level in a system that is equitable on a worldwide scale, to more basic questions of what products deserve protection. A key issue is how to properly protect products that emerge from a specific geographical context. International systems designed to protect products either from a particular region or with an actual geographical place-name have been evolving for more than a century. These protected denominations of origin have gained more attention with the rise of the World Trade Organization (wto) and other bilateral, multilateral, and global trade agreements. Thus specialized trademarks of a geographical nature, such as a geographical indication (GI), recognized through the wto, and an appellation of origin (AO), recognized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (wipo), are finding themselves at the center of controversies over who has the right to "own" products that have evolved in a cultural context over centuries. Consequently, certain products are important because of their indelible ties to regional or national identity, in essence becoming symbols of groups of people and their collective histories.

The motivation to protect such products extends beyond the desire for economic development to less calculable yet equally powerful expressions of cultural heritage. Yet much of the debate over GIs and AOs focuses on technical aspects of the legal frameworks designed to regulate them, to the exclusion of analyses of the sociocultural contexts that make protection important in the eyes of citizens (Hughes 2003). This is unfortunate, considering the link between long-standing geographical products and national pride. Here we echo the sentiment that, from a regulatory standpoint, "GIs arguably protect the integrity of national ... icons that construct identity" and are therefore ripe for contestation (Broude 2005, 660). In short, control over the rights to such items can become a nationalistic imperative rather than simply a tool for agricultural development. It is in this context that political entities propose declarations of origin on products as a means of strengthening national sovereignty rather than as recognition of the rights of agricultural producers (Salazar, Louwaars, and Visser 2007,1525).

Surprisingly, geographers' interest in denomination of origin is a more recent phenomenon despite its obvious geographical nature (Craven and Mather 2001). Twentiethcentury research has recognized the topic's geographical relevance in a range of debates that reflect the diverse interests of human geography. Sarah Bowen and Ana Zapata have explored the link between GIs and environmental sustainability by looking at agave cultivation and land degradation in Mexico as the country considered a GI for tequila (2009). Nicholas Parrott, Natasha Wilson, and Jonathan Murdoch noted stark regional contrasts between the agricultural systems of northern and southern Europe, where GIs are particularly prevalent in the latter region because it stresses the artisanal nature of food production (2002). Thus economic geographers recognize important links between the economics of GIs and cultural geographies. Other geographers have investigated the role of GIs in fostering the growth of alternative food networks (Watts, Ilbery, and Maye 2005; Kizos and Vakoufaris 2011). Prior to the establishment of the wto, Warren Moran correctly predicted that intellectual property rights, as a form of nontariff trade restriction, would become an important influence on trade flows and a growing distinction among rural products (1993). Emily Craven and Charles Mather noted that GIs would become more contentious as they became incorporated into multilateral frameworks like the WTOS, a prescient notion in light of our subject matter (2001). …

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