The global proliferation of trade and investment agreements has generated much interest in studying whether governments have the policy space required to respond effectively to the needs of their citizens. Yet despite its common usage, the term ‘policy space’ is rarely fully conceptualized in studies of global economic integration. Failure to theorize policy space has led to gaps in understandings of how it is shaped, manipulated and expanded by competing forces at multiple scales. Critical geography and ethnographic studies of global connections lend insight into how global processes engage with local, sociopolitical forces in ways that co-produce uneven and creative qualities across time and space. She will discuss how these insights can enrich studies of the impacts of international investment agreements (IIAs) on policy space. Moreover, she will reconceptualize policy space to highlight its dynamic and fluid nature in the hopes of overcoming tendencies to universalize the impacts of IIAs.
Julia Calvert is a PhD Candidate in the department of Political Science and the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University. Her research interests lie in the areas of Latin American politics, Canada – Latin America relations, global governance, trade and investment, and social movements. Her current work examines the impact of international investment agreements on the policy space of governments in Argentina and Ecuador. More specifically, she is exploring how governments and civil society use domestic and international tools to help expand policy options in the face of constraints imposed by prevailing investment rules.