Cracking the Frame? On the Prospects of Change in a World of Struggle

Forthcoming in 27(3) European Journal of International Law (2016)

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2016-31

Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2016-13

Postnational Rulemaking Working Paper No. 2016-08

23 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2016 Last revised: 11 Aug 2016

See all articles by Ingo Venzke

Ingo Venzke

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam Center for International Law

Date Written: July 22, 2016

Abstract

Critical scholarship classically lays bare the assumptions and choices that people make when they argue. By displaying the consequences of those assumptions and choices, it seeks to instil a sense of responsibility for them. Drawing them out into the open, critical scholarship presents them for contestation, unsettles them, and opens them up for change. In his latest book, A World of Struggle, David Kennedy directs our attention to the background work of expertise – how it rules through arguments, how it shapes the global political economy and how it sustains unjust distributions of gains. Kennedy offers a warm invitation to join the struggle to imagine and remake the world differently. In the present review, I discuss this invitation’s specific appeal. More generally, I ask about the prospects of change in international law as well as the activities that might support such change. I argue, first, that carving out background assumptions and choices is not enough. What is needed is an account of transitions – something that Kennedy acknowledges but does not provide. Second, I approach the vexed question of who could effectively crack existing frames – a question that Kennedy ducks. And, third, I discuss the role of violence, rhetoric and reason in the argumentative practice of expert work – distinctions that Kennedy refutes. I am ultimately happy to accept Kennedy’s invitation. It surely comes with immense acuity, subtle side blows and not so subtle punches – always in his signature style. I conclude that, with the aim of inducing change, a core activity of scholars should be to trace changes in concrete contexts and to thereby regain a sense for the possibilities of the past.

Keywords: International Political Economy; International Economic Law; Expertise; Critical Legal Scholarship; distributive effects, legal change, archeology, genealogy, argumentative practice, David Kennedy

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Venzke, Ingo, Cracking the Frame? On the Prospects of Change in a World of Struggle (July 22, 2016). Forthcoming in 27(3) European Journal of International Law (2016); Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2016-31; Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2016-13; Postnational Rulemaking Working Paper No. 2016-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2813201

Ingo Venzke (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam Center for International Law ( email )

REC A - Nieuwe Achtergracht 166
Amsterdam, 1018WV
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.uva.nl/profiel/v/e/i.venzke/i.venzke.html

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