IGLPblackLogoIGLP: The Workshop is an intensive residential program designed for doctoral and post-doctoral scholars and junior faculty.  Are you considering applying to the Workshop?  We hope this site will help future applicants get a better sense of who has attended previous Workshops and the kinds of ideas with which they have engaged.  We have interviewed several participants from the 2013 Workshop — new participants as well as returning alumni — whose scholarship represents a wide range of new thinking in the fields of comparative law, global governance and international law.  Read their responses and reflections in their own words below!


Noha Aboueldahab, Ph.D. Candidate, Durham Law School (Egypt) | IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

Noha AboueldahabGlobally, the number of prosecutions of political leaders has increased significantly in the last two decades. Since the ousting of the Egyptian, Libyan, Tunisian and Yemeni leaders in 2011, efforts to prosecute them and other high-ranking government officials for crimes allegedly committed during their rule have increased drastically.

My research investigates what led to the decision to prosecute and not to prosecute political leaders in the Arab region. Through a comparative case study of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, I seek to explain what triggers and drives decisions regarding prosecution in those countries by looking at the dynamics of the processes of prosecution that unfolded in each country.

I am also investigating what shapes the content and the extent of decisions regarding prosecution. Why is there an emphasis in the prosecutions on corruption and financial crimes over human rights crimes? Why are the human rights charges mostly limited to the period of the Arab uprisings? Why are certain individuals tried while others escape investigation and prosecution?

Kathryn Sikkink’s work on prosecutions has been an important inspiration for my research. Her book, The Justice Cascade – How Human Rights Prosecutions are Changing World Politics (2011), provided an excellent grounding for the development of my research questions.  Sikkink’s extensive research on prosecutions in Latin America was extremely valuable during my field research in Egypt, Tunisia, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil in 2012. Her observations on the impact of ruptured vs. negotiated transitions on the likelihood of prosecutions in Latin America made me skeptical of their applicability to the case studies from the Arab region. As a result, I am looking into how semi-ruptured transitions impact decisions regarding prosecution in my case studies.

Sikkink and others have taken note that most scholarly research focuses on the outcome of the decision to prosecute and not to prosecute, with little examination of the reasons behind an emphasis on corruption and economic crimes trials over human rights trials in some countries. The Arab region serves as a strong case for analysis in this regard. I am currently tackling this challenging question on the duality of the charges and the selection of individuals investigated and prosecuted. Drawing from and building on Sikkink’s work, my research will explain the processes that lead to the outcome of the decision to prosecute and not to prosecute, but it also goes one step further to explain the shape that these decisions take as a result of the processes they emerge from and the contexts within which they unfold.

The 2013 IGLP Workshop in Doha produced some very interesting discussions on Arab and Islamic law, thanks to the participation of experts on these questions. I am eager to learn more about the sources of human rights and criminal law in the Gulf countries, particularly as they are areas of law that continue to evolve throughout the region. I am also keen to explore how the transitions in the ‘Arab Spring’ countries have impacted legal reform. I look forward to the continuation of these important debates at future IGLP Workshops.


Nadia Ahmad, Legal Fellow, Sustainable Development Strategies Group (United States) |  IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

Nadia Ahmad PhotoIn the transnational schema, the inability to turn on and/or keep on the lights has a domino effect with economic and geostrategic consequences. I explore how policymakers and government regulators involved with long distance energy projects have not adequately instituted laws and policies to ensure necessary electrical generation that has environmental, health and occupational safeguards. I hypothesize that existing regulations, practices, and norms for long distance energy transmission may be doomed because of complications with right-of-way and transmission line easements unless the status quo is revamped. I am seeking to examine how international legal theory and federalism doctrines can be channeled for improving laws for transmission line and right of way easements for further eco-efficiency. Governmental and corporate best practices that can be utilized to facilitate energy for the greater good is also of concern. This research presents an opportunity for engaging in corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices during the assessment and construction phases and beyond for energy projects by focusing on the planning stages and everything in between up to when disaster strikes.

I have been inspired and challenged by economist Peter Fox-Penner’s work, Smart Power, which delves into the transformations occurring within the energy industry. Fox-Penner argues that the utility industry must adapt to the climate imperative through a recognition of industry’s technology, cost characteristics, and ability to function as a sustainable business. Hari Osofsky, Ashira Ostrow, and Hannah Wiseman have also been sources of inspiration on their respective works regarding energy federal, transmission siting, and renewable energy governance. The realm of possibilities posed by Vivek Wadwa and Adil Najam, both of whose primary focus is outside of law, but who propose new ways of injecting scholarly interventions through the use of innovation, technology and effective management, is intriguing. Lakshman Guruswamy, who is among the pioneers for the concept of energy justice for peoples of the developing world, is another source of inspiration.

The creation of sustainable, reliable, and eco-efficient energy is a global imperative. While the dichotomy between the developed and developing world is rapidly accelerating, global powers have recognized the issue of international energy governance, but are perplexed or confounded on how to manage energy demands while mitigating climate concerns. IGLP helped me develop a theoretical understanding for framing my arguments concerning energy justice, corporate social responsibility, and energy regulation.


Suzanne Akila, Ph.D. Candidate, Australian National University | IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

Akila 3After the IGLP Workshop, I discovered through the writing workshop that my topic is concerned with a much bigger question of global governance than I had originally anticipated.  Initially, I was focused on the dichotomy of law and non-law mechanisms used by States to intervene on behalf of their citizens experiencing human rights abuses by other States. However, through the conversations and feedback provided in the writing workshop, particularly from Karen Engle and David Kennedy, I was able to re-conceive my topic. At the broadest level, I am grappling with the question of how States resolve disputes in relation to the human rights of their citizens abroad and the role of law in that process. In particular, I am interested in how different actors influence the protection process and the values that drive decisions by States to intervene on behalf of their citizens abroad.

The work of Professor John Braithwaite is provoking me to see law, particularly international law, through a more complex lens. As a regulatory scholar, Braithwaite’s work captures law as one influence in a tapestry of influences affecting global problems. At its broadest, regulatory scholarship is the study of influence. The protection of citizens abroad often concerns issues of sovereignty, law, foreign relations, media, participation of civil society, human rights and citizenship. A traditional doctrinal analysis of the protection of citizens abroad could not capture this tapestry of influences. Applying a regulatory lens allows me to consider how these issues affect State decisions to intervene on behalf of a citizen abroad and the manner in which they choose to do so.

After attending the IGLP Workshop, I have been motivated to consider the methodological challenges of conducting empirical research in international law. The traditionally doctrinal focus of international law analysis presents limited opportunities for delving into the political and social aspects of the protection of citizens abroad. I am reading and researching the ways in which international scholars have used empirical techniques to examine and explain international law questions.

Ansah, Lecturer, University of Cape Coast (Ghana) | IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

John Ansah photo2The big question concerning global governance I am grappling with is the act of skewing the mode of involvement of states in the process of taking decisions concerning global trade, environment and criminal justice using such criteria as economic growth expressed in Gross Domestic Product. In terms of trade, market forces make the notion of comparative advantage a source of disadvantage for countries whose level of participation in global governance is low. In terms of environment, it is obvious that the degree of CO2 emissions is unequal among countries. Those who produce less are the worst hit which is symptomatic of a global environmental irony. The irony is more glaring when the worst hit countries are unable to actively participate in decisions that could reverse the ramifications of devastating environmental changes – climate change. The form and process of adjudication as well as the caliber of people prosecuted and sentenced at the courts of justice and the criminal courts represent another form of global governance I am grappling with because they appear to question not only the principle of natural justice but also the principles of equality and perhaps appears to smack off power inequality in the global political praxis.

The person whose ideas are inspiring to me at the moment is Jeffrey Sachs and his idea of sustainable development. Sachs sees development as a matter of human decency. Sachs argues that sustainable development is when economic growth ensures the protection of the earth’s resources. Achieving this, according Sachs, will be a matter not only of technology, market incentives and appropriate regulations, but of embracing sustainable development as a common commitment to decency for all human beings today and the future. Sachs concludes that sustainable development requires the mobilization of new techniques that are guided by shared values. This idea is inspiring because it provides new and challenging perspectives to development and introduces new structures upon which development becomes commonly beneficial. Sachs’ idea expands the economic, social and human scopes of development and introduces the ethical perspective. His works creates the platform for new thinking and measurement of development.

Since the Workshop, I have been pursuing the relationship between law and development. I see such an idea as reflecting the notion that development needs will be met when laws are enacted. In one of our workshop discussions, the argument was that a necessary condition for development is law. Much as I felt that the argument was tenable, I also realized the argument about the relationship between law and development was an oversimplified one. In the discussion, I observed that the relationship between development and law is not simplistic and that the mere enactment of the law cannot make it a necessary condition for development. Rather, the relationship between law and society is a complex one. The potency of the law to ensure development depends on a number of variables. The variables include the content of the law, the level of enforcement and the value systems of the law enforcers. Having realized that these variables are useful in the argument concerning law and development, I thought I needed to examine further how they play out in the law-development nexus hence its pursuit.

Matej Avbelj
, Assistant Professor of European Law, Graduate School of Government and European Studies, Kranj (Slovenia) | IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

avbelj_M2My present research interests lie in the field of European integration, in particular in its capacity to react to the challenges of the economic crisis. It is clear that the actors of this crisis are not exclusively governmental, but increasingly private or semi-private actors with notable law-making capacity with a transnational reach that escapes the Member States and even the EU as such both as the source as well as the guardian of thus established transnational laws. This practical interest then translates into a more abstract research question querying how the European Union can best respond to the emergence of the so-called transnational law and cope with its challenges. This question ought to be resolved primarily on the conceptual level, for it challenges the received ideas of (positive) law, which are essentially statist, and in so doing announces a transition from modernity to post-modernity at the level of law too.

I am inspired by legal and legal philosophical literature that critically examines and deconstructs the present concepts of law and state lato sensu, but then in an intellectually constructive manner takes its critique to the transnational level with an aim of devising better theoretical solutions to the specific legal problems of our time. My research draws on the constitutional and legally pluralist paradigms; questioning the former in favor of the latter.

The IGLP Workshop exposed me to new theoretical and practical perspectives largely thanks to a fascinating body of fellows with rich and diverse experiences in a variety of scholarly and professional fields. It is by learning from them in formal and informal exchanges that some of my received ideas have been questioned, while others reinforced. While my research focus stays the same, the Workshop experience has made me shift some emphases and to approach several issues from a different and enriched point of view.


Lina Buchely, Graduate Assistant, Universidad de los Andes (Colombia) | IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

Lina Buchley photoMy research focuses on how domestic and international actors articulate transnational legal processes. In particular, I analyze how in the articulation of these transnational processes, legal and social meanings travel from domestic contexts to either the international sphere or different locales, using the idea of the Rule of Law as a space of bargain. I am interested in two aspects of this “transnational exchange” as a legal struggle. The first aspect relates to what is gained and what is lost in the exchange of legal and social meanings when they are mobilized beyond the space of the nation-state. The second aspect relates to the transformation of political and legal agendas when they travel to different local contexts and how they shape transnational agendas for social and legal mobilization. My research delves, as a result, into the actual content of the exchange among domestic and international actors in order to understand the conditions under which legal ideas leave local contexts to land in international and transnational levels and how in such journey political and legal agendas are transformed.

I am inspired by the work of Professors David Trubek, Chantal Thomas, Kerry Rittich, Helena Alviar and scholars associated with the network on Law and the New Developmental State (LANDS).

My main objective after the Workshop is to further investigate on the idea of bureaucratic activism. In a big way, discussions about the New Developmental State, and current state activism more generally, are related with the idea of alternative forms of law and power in which the state and the public are coming to shape the daily life of the people. While Old Legal Theory is paranoid about judicial activism and its problems for the liberal state, I propose in my research that we are witnessing today a conscious move towards a kind of “bureaucratic activism” as a way to capture the new manifestation of the public in the post-neoliberal era. In my understanding this “bureaucratic activism” is an essential component of the New Developmental State. Importantly, current “bureaucratic activism” is different to the old Weberian idea of bureaucracy as a way to rationally and strategically materialize the power of the state in citizens’ lives. What we have now, instead, is an escalation of a rich variety of street level bureaucracy, who is taking state decisions far away of the rational model of governance and the classical approach to the Rule of Law (although operating according to a state-like logic and under an aura of legalism).

Madelaine Chiam
, Ph.D. Candidate and Sessional Academic, Melbourne Law School (Australia) | IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

My research is about what I call ‘war-talk’ – or public debate about war in liberal democracies – and the increasing centrality of international law within it. I am grappling with three main questions: what kinds of tasks do the users of legal language expect it to perform in war-talk? What promises do those users perceive law to offer? And what are the limits of legal language in war-talk? I am approaching these questions through an historical lens, by examining the war-talk of Australia during World War I, the Vietnam War and the 2003 Iraq War. I want to know how the tasks, promises and limits of law have been perceived differently during those three conflicts and I also explore the role that other forms of war-talk (such as the languages of justice or morality) played during those periods. Driving my research is a concern about the place of a technical language like law in debates about broad questions of humanity, and especially in state justifications for engaging in war.

There are two people whose work I am finding particularly useful at the moment. The first is James Boyd White. His use of the tools of literary analysis to perform a close reading of legal texts as texts rather than as law – notably in his book The Legal Imagination – has provided a grounding for my approach to the texts of war-talk, both legal and non-legal. I have also found White’s critiques of law as a technical language to be illuminating and am adapting some of these critiques to assist in my examination of war-talk. The second person whose work has inspired me recently is Sally Engle Merry. In my struggles with the question of how international law comes to have a place in the war-talk of civil society, Merry’s work on translating international human rights law to local contexts suggests some promising ways through. Her arguments on the process of remaking international norms into a local vernacular have inspired me to think differently about similar processes in my own research.

The Workshop produced two really great ‘Ah ha!’ moments for me. The first came from the feedback I received on my thesis chapter during the Writing Workshops. A couple of people pointed out that my analysis had missed how particular actors in the Australian Iraq War debate were, counter-intuitively, using legal language as resistance. This insight into some actors’ unexpected use of law as resistance helped me to reconcile the contradictions I had been wrestling with in the chapter and I intend to pursue the idea further in my thesis. The second moment came from the Human Rights and Social Justice stream, which in 2013 focused on what some have characterised as the ‘colonization’ of international human rights law by international criminal law. As a teacher of human rights law, I was challenged by these discussions, and am now conscious of finding ways to resist this disciplinary colonization in my own work.


Luwam Dirar, S.J.D. Candidate, Cornell School of Law (Eritrea) | IGLP Workshop Docent 2013

Luwam PhotoMy interest in issues of global governance comes from my dissatisfaction, with the idea of neutrality of law and lack of parity of participation, of ‘global south’ in global economic order. In my current research project, I focus on EU-Africa trade relations and its impact on regional integration of Southern African states. Alternatively, I analyze how South-South relations, formed as an emancipation project, come under spasm when struggling to adjust to global demands for trade liberalization in the context of EU-Africa partnership agreements.

I am inspired and challenged by the works of several scholars both that are members of the core faculty of IGLP and others outside the network. Specifically, my SJD committee members serve as my core inspiration in my academic and intellectual growth and push me to think outside the box both theoretically and practically.

After attending the IGLP Workshop, I usually need a week or so to process the various intellectual discussions and inquires that occur throughout the Workshop. The inequality in knowledge production between ‘North’ and ‘South’; issues of global governance; monolithic global economic order and persistent inequalities among states are some of the questions that have come to my mind in the last IGLP Workshop. In conclusion, every IGLP workshop I have attended has pushed me to rethink my arguments and conceptions in order to proffer broader understanding of issues and thereby work towards alternative conceptualizations and thinking.


Vanja Hamzić, Lecturer, The City Law School, City University London (Bosnia and Herzegovina) | IGLP Workshop Docent 2013

Vanja photoMy work, at the moment, revolves mostly around various historical and present-day approaches to Islamic law and ‘statecraft’ (siyāsa), including those of potential theoretical and political salience for rethinking the concepts such as ‘nation-state’, ‘international law’ and the evermore-pervasive ‘global law’. Mine is not an attempt at ‘reviving’ modernist or pre-colonial legal traditions of Muslim polities and philosophical schools; what I find both challenging and intriguing is how to respond to phenomena such as the Arab Spring from a critical legal perspective, which takes into account the systems of insurrectionary vernacular knowledge that have flourished – and still do – on either side of the imagined epistemological fault line between ‘East’ and ‘West’. Geopolitical contours are important, not least because of the obtruding legacy of an imperialist international law, but they can hardly account for the extraordinary resilience and diversity of legal thought and practice emerging – to use a well-known phrase – in the shadow of the (official or mainstream) law.

Professor Wael B. Hallaq, who teaches at Columbia University’s Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, has recently published an excellent book, titled The Impossible State: Islam, Politics and Modernity’s Moral Predicament, in which he describes the idea and functions of the modern nation-state as inherently incompatible with that of the ‘Islamic state’. I find his work in general, and perhaps this book in particular, remarkably thought-provoking. Whilst Euro-American modernity, as a precursor and – in many ways – facilitator of ignominious colonial legal projects, has received a rich stream of scholarly reprisals, the body of thought and (political, nation-building) practice clumsily called ‘Islamic modernism’ is still critically underexplored.

I am delighted that the Workshop now has a brand-new stream, which focuses on the Arab and Islamic legal traditions. This could prove instrumental in a wide range of future scholarly collaborations, some of which I very much hope to be part of. I am particularly excited at the prospect of working with those IGLP alumni who research Islamic law, within and beyond Arab contexts.


Lucas Lixinski, Dean’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Faculty of Law, The University of New South Wales (Australia) | IGLP Workshop Docent 2013
Lucas Lixinski photo

I am currently engaged in two big questions. The first one has to do with how certain master narratives of the international legal order have an unseen impact on the operation of specialized fields of international law. The idea is that people unconsciously subscribe to one or another account of the international legal order, and work on the basis of a certain set of assumptions that goes unchallenged. By critically mapping how this occurs, we are in a better position to challenge these assumptions and their impact.

The second question focuses on expertise discourses and their role in shaping global governance in the heritage field. The field of heritage (both natural and cultural) has long relied on experts as the bridge between the law and communities, but experts have focused more on heritage as a goal worth protecting for its own sake, as opposed to heritage as a vehicle for identity or emancipation. This is the reason why, in my view, expert role needs to be challenged in this field.

I have recently discovered Annelise Riles’ “The Network Inside Out” (2001), which has been incredibly enlightening in trying to make sense of the dizzying number of ways and formats in which international governance operates. Also, at present I have been engaging quite substantially with the work of David Kennedy (on expertise) and Gunther Teubner and Martti Koskenniemi (on narratives of the international legal order).

IGLP: the Workshop has inspired me to pursue further work in background themes of international legal governance. After being involved for three years in this network, I can safely say that much of my current agenda is a product of discussions I have had with faculty and fellow participants at the Workshop.


Rebecca Monson, Lecturer and Convenor of the Law, ANU College of Law, The Australian National University (Australia) | IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

Rebecca MonsonI work at the intersection of law, geography and anthropology and am broadly interested in the role of law in processes of colonization, imperialism and resistance; in particular the roles played by the law in relationships between persons and things. I am interested in the ways in which colonizers use law to transform the social world of the colonized; and also in the ways in which the same semantic and institutional structures may be turned against the colonizers by the colonized.

My doctoral dissertation (2012) examines the ways in which claims to land are negotiated and performed in two sites in Solomon Islands, and pays particular attention to innovations in customary land tenure and sociality arising in response to colonization, missionisation, and the commodification of land and other natural products. I am currently building on this work to examine local adaptation to climate change in a number of sites in Solomon Islands. While existing legal scholarship on climate change and displacement tends to locate solutions in international law and emphasise the responsibility of state actors in dealing with climate change, I am interested in the resilience of local communities and their use of ‘informal’, ‘customary’ and ‘local’ forms of land tenure and social ordering in climate change adaptation.

Sally Engle Merry’s work provided an important turning point in my legal education, as it not only critiques legal imperialism and highlights the use of law to colonise; but also the agency and creativity of people as they resist and subvert those processes. I am also immensely inspired by Sally’s generosity towards junior scholars. Epeli Hau’ofa’s famous essay, “Our Sea of Islands”, moves me to tears no matter how many times I read it, and is a touchstone for my teaching. At the moment I am excited by Sundhya Pahuja’s recent book, Decolonising International Law, and am particularly interested in her argument that the claim to permanent sovereignty over natural resources has been transformed into the protection of foreign investors (an argument that has important implications for contexts in the southwest Pacific). Ambreena Manji’s work, in particular her critiques of the global network of law and development scholars and practitioners, regularly prompts me to reconsider my own. Nicholas Blomley’s engaged writing and exposure of the ways in which law and space matter never fails to excite me. The work of ANU legal scholars Daniel Fitzpatrick, Sinclair Dinnen, John Braithwaite, Veronica Taylor and Hilary Charlesworth has influenced me in various ways, and I have been particularly inspired by their commitment to nurturing junior scholars.

I have been engaged with the law and development literature for some time, but due to my research focus, have only skirted around the edges of the critical scholarship on international law. The IGLP Workshop both reminded and inspired me to engage with this scholarship far more deeply than I have previously. I found the sessions on Science and Technology Studies particularly helpful as this is a field that I am only vaguely familiar with. I mentioned this literature to one of my doctoral students when I returned from Doha, and he is now finding it immensely useful to his work on colonial land reform in the Pacific.


Rose Sydney Parfitt, Assistant Professor of International Law, The American University in Cairo (United Kingdom) | IGLP Workshop Docent 2013

Rose Parfitt_IGLP203My approach to the issue of global governance is primarily connected to the history and historiography of international law. I am just about to start a three-year research project, at Melbourne Law School’s Institute for International La and the Humanities (IILAH), in which I am to examine the approach of the (Italian) fascist approach to international law in the inter-war period through the lens of international law, and to draw on my historical conclusions in order to examine global governance norms today. ‘Modern’ international law as conventionally understood, epitomised by the Genocide Convention, the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration, Article 2(4) and so on, is usually understood as being everything that fascism is not. International law is viewed as having been constructed against fascism, precisely in order to prevent its re-emergence my means both of the provision of discipline (e.g. international human rights law) and of punishment (e.g. international criminal law). I aim to put this assumption under the spotlight. The provisional title of the project, which is to be undertaken at Melbourne Law Schools Institute of International Law and the Humanities, is: ‘We will give you another law and another king’ Fascism, Empire and International Community.

In terms of straight-up theory, the writers who have given me most in terms of inspiration as well as analytical tools are M. M. Bakhtin and V. N. Voloshinov. In terms of constant provocation and inspiration in the sphere of international legal history and theory, my hero is and remains Nathaniel Berman. If it were not for him, I would still be writing magazine features on celebrity psoriasis. In terms of a text that I came across recently, Mary Beard’s The Political Economy of Desire (Routledge, 2007) blew my mind. But my IGLP peers are also authoring amazing material. In particular, I am really looking forward to the publication of three doctoral theses: Luis Eslava’s Local Space, Global Life: The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development; Yoriko Otomo’s Unconditional Life: The Time and Technics of International Law and Charlotte (Charlie) Peevers’s Justifying Force: the Suez Crisis, the Iraq War and International Law (Oxford University Press, forthcoming, 2013).

I am at the moment trying to work out which kind of methodology would be most useful in terms of what I hope to achieve with the project outlined above. My aim is to find, or develop, an approach which will allow me to use works of art and literature alongside treaties and materials from the diplomatic archives. I therefore intend to pursue some of the questions raised by Sheila Jasanoff and more generally by the field of Science and Technology Studies – a field I had never even heard of until I began to attend IGLP: the Workshop. I also aim, over the next few years, to develop my understanding of the legal aspects of international finance, and will therefore be keeping the dilemmas and materials presented by Scott Newton and Leo Specht (‘International Financial Structures after the Crisis’) and by Christine Desan and Roy Kreitner (‘Legal Architecture of Montary Integration’) in mind. I am also very happy to be involved in the ‘Corporation in Global Society’ project, organised by Dan Danielson and Dennis Davis, to which I hope to contribute something on corporatism.


Karen Rhone, Doctoral Fellow, American Bar Foundation, University of Chicago (United States of America) | IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

Karen Rhone (Ellis)Right now, I am most concerned with how the law constitutes, and is constituted by, modes of economic morality. How can we understand these moralities? How are they strategically intertwined? Conversely, what makes them distinct? Why are some virtually uncontested and centrally understood as “good,” while others are deemed undesirable and problematic for governance? What are the mechanisms that do this work, e.g. rhetoric, linear hegemonic histories? What are the mechanisms that make some so successful, while others appear feeble, easily deconstructed and remade for the benefit of political expediency and maintaining asymmetrical power relationships, e.g. myths, fables? Why do academic investigations about governing the economy hesitate to frame issues as moral or normative, particularly when many economic issues clearly engage both? As well, what are the consequences if we fail to account for the work done by moral misunderstandings and manipulations in economy and governance at large, which include but are not limited to issues of faith, religion and secularism?

Given those large, sweeping questions, I am interested in – more specifically and empirically – how modes of morality are smuggled and strategically intertwined into rhetorics about economic development. More than this, how are these moralities used to make these rhetorics more palatable, enthralling even?

Many of the aforementioned questions provoked me to revisit Nietzsche’s “On the Genealogy of Morality” (1887). With it, I am allowing my ideas to be further challenged by Wael Hallaq’s “The Impossible State: Islam, Politics, and Modernity’s Moral Predicament” (2013). I remain inspired by the erudite Timothy Mitchell. Many of the questions and concerns raised at IGLP: The Workshop about how power is organized for the benefit of strategic governance led me back to Timothy Mitchell’s “Colonizing Egypt.” In that volume, he does a brilliant job of showing how colonizing projects ultimately infiltrated the minds of both the colonizer and the colonized under the guise of “objectivity.” More than that, he shows us how we arrive at – for me – moral imaginings and, as an extension of that, representations of “model behavior for the modern political subject.”

During the IGLP Workshop, it struck me that several participants were doing work on Islamic finance. Many of the queries about it envisage it as a moral answer to the inevitability of economic malfeasance in a capitalist economy. Many of these frames also had ties to the Global Financial Crisis. I have been working on Islamic economics and finance since 2006, and I have come to be less interested in how it compares to conventional finance and more interested in what its theories have to offer as a means for securing economic justice in a global, capitalist economy. To be sure, I left the Workshop wanting to pursue a more nuanced understanding of how representations of theories about moral economy are taken seriously in some contexts, but dismissed or co-opted in others, particularly for the benefit of both development discourses and “religious toleration.”


Osama Siddique, Associate Professor, Department of Law and Policy, Lahore University of Management Sciences (Pakistan) | IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

Osama Profile PictureI am fascinated by the various widening gaps between ordinary citizens’ access to formal legal systems and reform designs and programs imagined by IFIs and national reform elites. It is this aspect of global governance through or in the name of ‘Rule of Law’ reforms that particularly intrigues me. I have theoretically and empirically explored this theme in the context of Pakistan specifically and South Asia generally in my forthcoming book ‘Pakistan’s Experience with Formal Law: An Alien Justice’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge 2013). I am now working toward broadening my scope of inquiry to include other post-colonial developing countries as well as to embrace additional qualitative and quantitative social science research techniques for gathering and analyzing evidence. I am not at all sure whether the aforementioned is a big idea or a weighty question but it is definitely one that not only attracts me intellectually but which also seems worth pursuing for the reason that to my mind it impacts so many rather than a select few.

I continue to be inspired by Sally Engle Merry’s inquiries as to the modes of popular justice and ordinary folks’ experiences in courts; Marc Galanter’s explorations of the interaction and contestations of the formal and informal justice systems in India; David Kennedy’s critiques of the new developmental ethos and its crowding out of the economic and the political through an exaltation of the legal; Duncan Kennedy’s insights into the formal legal system’s creation and perpetuation of various forms of hierarchy and domination; and Henry Steiner’s proposed dialectic for universal human rights and cultural relativism. At the same time, Dickens, Kafka, Orwell, Manto, Foucault, Marquez, Mahfouz, Mistry and many others constantly remind me – in their own inimitable ways – how central humans ought to remain in all our legal frameworks, fictions, frauds and fantasies. Not to forget also, their not too faint cautionary murmurings that only rarely have the common people been allowed to progress from the periphery of the real as well as the imagined in our political systems as well as our scholarly arenas.

I want to further understand and develop analytical frameworks for determining how struggling democracies strike a balance between a universal ‘Rule of Law’ and legal and normative diversity and pluralism; between a potentially equalizing and predictable and yet potentially exclusive and coercive formal legal system and more accessible and intelligible and yet potentially discriminatory societal dispute resolution mechanisms; between a centralizing and empowering constitutional ethos and a decentralizing and liberating federal structure; between a proactive, rights protecting and at times overreaching judiciary and a potential judicialization of politics that crowds out the space for genuine deliberative politics; and, between the false charms of so-called ‘modernity’ and the fatuous romance of so-called ‘tradition.’ I am also very interested in how struggling democracies ‘ought to’ strike such a balance. I am equally keen to determine the limits of scholarly legal discourse for exploring these and various other related ideas as well as to investigate other possible realms and genres for expression, including that of the fictional narrative. Therefore, my next project is as likely to be a legal-sociological commentary as a socio-legal novel. There is absolutely no guarantee, however, as to whether either will be even remotely worth reading.


Rene Urueña, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia) |  IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

Rene Uruena2I’m trying to understand the ways in which the use of indicators, and other techniques of governance by information, transform global governance. To be sure, those producing the indicators defend them as platforms for enhancing good governance and the rule of law. And a growing body of critical scholarship reads indicators as implausible neoliberal simplifications, which reproduce the common sense dominant in a few institutions in the north and impose it on the developing world. However, indicators also seems to open new political spaces for contestation. They create a new form of global common sense, whose process of production is not yet defined. Is global power experienced differently exercised through of an indicator? Are there new sites of contestation that appear as this technology is used? How do social movements in the south (both grass-root and elite-based) react to the use of indicators? Do they always resist them as an imposition of the north, or is there a process of appropriation or strategic transformation for local needs?

I’m now beginning to work on Science and Technology Studies (especially Sheila Jasanoff and Bruno Latour for now).

I want to explore the patterns that explain the emergence of a particular “common sense” at a given time. Many of the exercises of power that we understand as global governance (such as indicators) seem to derive from an “expert consensus”, that is then applied to particular problems. My interest after IGLP: The Workshop is to unpack this expert consensus in the particular context of governance indicators: how does a common sense come into being?


Fabia Veçoso, Professor of Law, Faculdade de Direito do Sul de Minas (Brazil) | IGLP Workshop Participant 2013

Fabia VecosoCurrently, I’m working on projects of regional integration in Latin America, trying to understand if International Law is still a powerful language to imagine the region. This effort includes recent ventures like UNASUR and MERCOSUR, as well as projects experienced in the region after the end of the WWII, such as ALADI, SELA, among others. The research question is related to a possible revival of international law in the region, as a language that may be used to articulate interests of some Latin American states. Addressing these questions may be tricky if one bases the research on traditional international law approaches. Textbooks from the field usually list the existing international organisations in Latin America, describing their institutional structures, their states parties, and the treaties celebrated, completing such an account with a reproduction of the text of the constitutive treaties. The analysis provides no explanation regarding the political context related to the creation of the organisations, neither relates new experiences to a broader scenery of regional integration in Latin America. The student must deal with them as a given.

The works by Liliana Obregón and Arnulf Lorca on the history of International Law in Latin America are decisive to my research. Jorge Squirol’s ideas on the law of Latin America are also inspiring. And, as always, Martti Koskenniemi’s writings on the history and theory of International Law.

The main question I want to pursue further after attending IGLP: the Workshop is to understand why, in Latin America, we keep renewing efforts of regional integration, with the creation and recreation of international organizations in a kind of “chaotic tradition”. Is this a process related to political reversals? Who is mobilizing the vocabulary of regionalism? In what context? For this end, conversations held with other workshop participants, also concerned about regionalism, but related to different parts of the globe, are fundamental in this attempt to understand Latin American experiences.