Mizanur Rahaman: Mapping the Spatial Distribution of Power

Mapping the Spatial Distribution of Power: TRIPs, Mediated Relationality and Resistance

Mizanur Rahaman

To Foucault, economic, juridico-political and scientific institutions assure the infinitesimal distribution of power. Hence, he suggests, we need to unmask and trace how power moves through legal norms, is taken over by specialised institutions, and more importantly, how institutions bring the effects of power to the most distant elements. Keeping these observations in mind, the paper investigates the spatial distribution of power in the bioeconomy. Accordingly, the paper looks into the global intellectual property regime (specifically the WTO-TRIPs Agreement) which, according to some scholars, has become a vehicle of power and domination. Put differently, the TRIPs Agreement has expanded the power and domination of developed countries and their corporations to dispersed locations. While this insight is illuminating, an important slippage persists because these scholars situate their analyses within a centre/periphery framework, and by doing so, leave out the ‘mediated relationality’ of power. That is, their analyses provide little understanding of how power becomes distributed through interactions, connections and mediation between heterogeneous elements. Since distribution is not effortless and straightforward, the paper suggests that instead of a spatially-centred or unidirectional view of power, we need to analyse distribution by focusing on a topological mix of distanciated and proximate actions. To substantiate this argument, the paper, first, discusses how two juridico-scientific institutions (DST and DBT) have integrated, mediated and accommodated the TRIPs regime in India and then, narrates how this regime is resisted or contested through the discourse of bio-piracy in the Bt. Brinjal controversy.

Mizanur Rahaman is Assistant Professor of law, based at Wolaita Sodo University, Ethiopia since October 2016,. Originally from India, he studied human rights, and law and development at the University of Warwick. His PhD, which he completed at the University of Kent, explored how the bioeconomy operates as a ‘desiring-machine’, and how law mediates such operation in a global/postcolonial context. He has worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and later, as Associate Lecturer at Kent Law School, University of Kent. In 2015, Mizanur was a Summer School Fellow at the Transnational Law Institute, King’s College London. Besides presenting his research at a number of conferences, he has written for Social Studies of Science and Science as Culture. Currently, his research examines and evaluates the ‘global/spatial turn’ in contemporary ‘law and globalisation/postcolonial’ legal scholarship. More recently, his research shifted to ‘law and time’, which investigates how time connects and assembles heterogeneous elements in dispute settlement process in a small village community in Southern Ethiopia.


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