Between Resistance and Reform: TWAIL and the Universality of International Law
Trade, Law and Development. Vol. 3, No. 1. pp. 103-130
30 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2011 Last revised: 10 Oct 2011
Date Written: 2011
In this article we explore the relationship between TWAIL scholarship and the universality of international law. In particular, we offer an account of this relation as the outcome of what we describe as TWAIL’s characteristic double engagement with the attitudes of both reform and revolution vis-à-vis international law and scholarship. In being thoroughly critical of the cornerstones of the established order, and yet engaged with the practice and operation of international law at the same time, TWAIL scholars have intimated in their search for justice, an idea of universality capable of accepting international law as an agonic project. To further its political engagement with the universal promise of international law, we suggest an explicit methodological turn for TWAIL scholarship that is attentive to international law as a material project. By paying attention to the daily operation of international law at the mundane, quotidian and material plane, we suggest that TWAIL can sharpen its analytical potential and generate at the same time, a ‘praxis of universality’. Such a praxis would be capable of troubling the constitution of places and subjects in the name of the international, whilst heightening our sensitivity to the numerous forms of resistance that are already at play as a particular normative project is being institutionalised and administered across the world.
Keywords: TWAIL, International Law, Universality, Materiality, Resistance, Reform, Method
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