Racial Capitalism and the Dialectics of Development: Exposing the Limits and Lies of International Economic Law

Law and Critique 35 (1):149-171 (2022)
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Abstract

International economic law is peculiar. It claims universal character, yet eschews engagement with many, if not all, the racialised features of the global political economy. Its scholars mostly ignore imperialism, colonialism, and capitalism; they exclude slavery, predation, and racism altogether. In the following article, we draw upon Walter Rodney’s dialectics of development to offer a racial capitalist critique of international economic law. The disciplinary boundaries and operative logic normalised by its denizens corral us in a white, Eurocentric episteme. Ahistoricism, decontextualisation, and externalisation are three epistemic devices at the forefront of the exclusionary discourse of IEL. In this space, the histories and epistemologies of Black peoples are ghettoised, treated as alien to the framework. After identifying this bias, we use the Black Radical Tradition to evaluate IEL’s amenability to the racial capitalism critique.

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