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Beyond the (Post)Colonial: TWAIL and the Everyday Life of International Law


Luis Eslava


University of Melbourne

Sundhya Pahuja


Melbourne Law School

April 4, 2012

Journal of Law and Politics in Africa, Asia and Latin America - Verfassung und Recht in Übersee (VRÜ), Vol. 45(2), 2012, pp. 195-221

Abstract:     
Third World Approaches to International Law, or ‘TWAIL’, is a response to both the colonial and postcolonial ethos of international law. It is also one of the most explicitly articulated juridical and political spaces in which to think about an international law beyond its (post)coloniality. In this article, we describe TWAIL as having a characteristic ‘double engagement’ with the attitudes of both reform and resistance vis-à-vis international law and scholarship. This double engagement has the potential to provide us with the tools both to delineate the (post)colonial character of international law, and to work actively toward a meaningfully plural international normative order. This latter possibility arises from a nascent conceptualisation within TWAIL scholarship of a universality that is compatible with an understanding of international law as an agonistic (and not imperial) project. To make good the tantalising potential of this ‘new’ universal, we suggest an explicit methodological move for TWAIL and its fellow travelers. Such a move involves paying attention to international law as a ‘material project’. By being attentive to the daily operation of international law on the mundane or ‘material’ plane of everyday life, it may be possible to generate a ‘praxis’ of (the new) universality. Such a praxis would trouble the way places and subjects are currently constituted in the name of the international and its (post)colonial ethos. Crucially, it would make intelligible to international legal scholarship the numerous forms of resistance already at play in the struggle against the (post)colonial normative order now being institutionalised and administered across the world.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: Postcolonialism, Postcolonial, Third World Approaches to International Law, TWAIL, International Law, Universality, Materiality, Resistance, Reform, Method, Ethnography, Agonic International Law, Praxis of Universality, Political International Lawyer

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Date posted: April 4, 2012 ; Last revised: August 19, 2012

Suggested Citation

Eslava, Luis and Pahuja, Sundhya, Beyond the (Post)Colonial: TWAIL and the Everyday Life of International Law (April 4, 2012). Journal of Law and Politics in Africa, Asia and Latin America - Verfassung und Recht in Übersee (VRÜ), Vol. 45(2), 2012, pp. 195-221. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2034228 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2034228

Contact Information

Luis Eslava (Contact Author)
University of Melbourne ( email )
Sundhya Pahuja
Melbourne Law School ( email )
Victoria, 3010
Australia
+61 3 8344 7102 (Phone)
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