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Learning From Below: Theorising Global Governance Through Ethnographies and Critical Reflections from The Global South

Xavier, Sujith “Learning From Below: Theorising Global Governance Through Ethnographies And Critical Reflections From The Global South” (2016) 33 (3) Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 229

Abstract:​

This paper explores the various means by which we can overcome the universalism imbedded in international law and international institutions. It asks: How can international lawyers and international law scholars learn from the Global South? This ‘how’ question prompts another, but related question: should we learn from the Global South? There is a rich interdisciplinary body of literature that signals to the Global South, or Europe’s other, as a site of knowledge production. The eurocentrism of the social sciences can be identified by examining the various founding fathers of their respective theories (especially sociology). This paper builds on southern theory in order to learn from these diverse perspectives in theorising global governance. This paper is organised in three sections. First, it sets out the rationale for a reorientation towards the Global South by examining the current state of global governance theory. In the second section, this paper focus on the broad theoretical foundations of the Third World Approaches to International Law [TWAIL] movement. TWAIL scholarship is a reaction against the colonial and imperial projects of international law. Its main claims are set out and then there is an examination of its proposals as a means to arrive at an answer to the second question: should we learn from the Global South? In the final section, this paper explores the question of how we can learn from the Global South. In answering this question, the author offers two insights. The first is based on the premise of international law as a field of practice. The second attempts to problematise the ethics of international legal scholarship.

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