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Law, Power and Political Economy Seminar Series: Domesticating Environment: Industrial Property and the Loss of the Planetary

industrial photo


Moot Court Room


Wed 29 May 2024

This is the first seminar in Edinburgh Law School's newly created Law, Power and Political Economy Seminar Series. The series provides a venue to discuss research in the law and political economy tradition. Seminars may cover may area of legal inquiry, but will typically emphasise critical scholarship on the relationship between law, economics and politics, the legal constitution of markets and capitalism, and issues of inequality and distribution.

About this event

International lawyers have often described the origins of environmentalism within our discipline as emerging from a patchwork of broad principles, procedural obligations and obligations in respect of transboundary harms, and sectoral or subject-specific treaties, rather than as more directly concerned with general structures of private right. Recent work in the history of capitalism, however, has sought to retrieve the 1970s as a moment of political possibility, prior to the ‘subordination of the planetary to the global’ associated with contemporary capitalism. In this paper, I argue that struggles over industrial property in international law were a critical site both for the articulation of this planetary politics and for attempts to translate it into concrete legal forms. I trace the emergence of this politics, and its contested shape, and show how it informed efforts by both Third-Worldist and socialist states to revise treaties for the international protection of industrial property from the 1960s through to the mid-1980s. Recovering these efforts offers new insights into the possibilities and limits of environmental exclusions in contemporary intellectual property treaties, as well as the broader place of the planetary within international law.

About the speaker

Anna Saunders is a PhD candidate at UCL Laws researching in international law, industrial property and the history of capitalism, and Managing Editor of the London Review of International Law. Her PhD project is supported by an AHRC London Arts and Humanities Partnership Research Studentship and by a Modern Law Review Scholarship. Her work has been published in the American Journal of International Law, Transnational Legal Theory and as chapters in volumes with leading university presses. She holds degrees from Harvard and Melbourne and is qualified as an Australian legal practitioner.

Seminars are convened by Dr Andrew McLean, Lecturer in Law and Political Economy, under the auspices of Edinburgh Law School's Law and (in)equalities research theme

This event is in person only.

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