The Peculiar Double-Consciousness of TWAIL

27 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2022

See all articles by Mohsen al Attar

Mohsen al Attar

Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU)

Date Written: March 06, 2022


Shunning the Eurocentrism that colours much mainstream scholarship, TWAIL has centred in international legal scholarship the views of peoples historically marginalised in the imperial-colonial process. In a single generation, its interventions have shifted perceptions of international law across the academy, forcing scholars to account for the partialities of our purportedly universal international legal regime. Yet, despite embracing iconoclasm and critique, TWAIL is also denoted by a formalist streak. Many of its scholars are committed to the regime, towing an orthodox line that appears counter-intuitive, even inconsistent. In this article, I use WEB Du Bois’ concept of double-consciousness to explain the tension that grips TWAIL scholars. The formerly colonised are caught in a loop: they aspire to belong to the academy—and to the world—yet are cognisant of the discord between their emancipatory hope for international law and its predatory reality. Du Bois offers a way forward, beseeching the colonised to fuse their clashing worldviews to produce a radical consciousness capable of advancing the cause of human freedom.

Keywords: Double-consciousness, epistemology, TWAIL, Third World imaginaries, WEB Du Bois

Suggested Citation

al Attar, Mohsen, The Peculiar Double-Consciousness of TWAIL (March 06, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Mohsen Al Attar (Contact Author)

Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) ( email )

111 Renai Road, SIP
, Lake Science and Education Innovation District
Suzhou, JiangSu province 215123

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