Maps and encounters: postcolonial approaches to international law and development

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Badin, Michelle Ratton Sanchez
Morosini, Fabio Costa
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This master’s thesis explores the encounters between international law, development and postcolonial studies. I focus in particular on how critical international legal scholarship has re-described international law and development using postcolonialism. I propose a specific body of law and development that I call postcolonial approaches to international law and development. In the first part of this thesis, I examine law and development studies and postcolonial studies separately. I revisit the debate on law and development, using five main approaches to it as proposed by Liliana Lizararo-Rodríguez: national perspectives, international perspectives, transnational approach, comparative law and development, and transnational thematic areas. Simultaneously, I propose four academic disciplines through which postcolonial studies can be understood: anti-colonial and founding moments, subaltern studies and historiographical turn, multidisciplinary voices in a postcolonial world, and Modernity/Coloniality Group and decolonial thought. I also distinguish key theoretical concepts, such as that of the Third World and Global South, that permeate both postcolonial studies and international law and development. In the second part, I use this framework to engage with specific studies of Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) to propose a more specific body of scholarship that I call postcolonial approaches to international law and development, using especially the studies of Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Sundhya Pahuja and Luis Eslava. For the first time, I bring three main contributions of postcolonial approaches to international law and development: first, Third World resistance as part of international law and development dynamics; second, development discourse as structure of the ideological-institutional complex of international law; and, third, international law and development as a dynamic that modifies notions of global and local in everyday lives. Finally, I propose three elements to identify postcolonial approaches to international law and development have. First, a historical-conceptual element which expands temporal borders of international law and development. Second, a geographical-spatial element which enables multidimensional analysis to international law and development. And, third, an epistemological-conceptual element which decentralizes legal and development discourses.

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