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Can the Subaltern Speak within International Law? Women’s Rights Activism, International Legal Institutions and the Power of ‘Strategic Misunderstanding’

Grewal, Kiran. 2016. Can the Subaltern Speak within International Law? Women’s Rights Activism, International Legal Institutions and the Power of ‘Strategic Misunderstanding’. In: , ed. Negotiating Normatively: Postcolonial Appropriations, Contestations and Transformations. Cham: Springer, pp. 27-44. ISBN 978-3-319-30983-5 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Since the 1990s, there has been a well-documented proliferation of international legal institutions as well as Rule-of-Law projects established in a variety of post-conflict settings. Advocates of this development argue that aside from assisting to build economically and politically stable and secure regimes, these interventions hold an emancipatory potential for marginalized populations across the globe. Meanwhile, critics point to the elitism and inefficacy of international institutions and law. They highlight the potential for these interventions to reproduce processes of cultural, political and economic domination.

In this chapter, I explore the ways in which international legal interventions engage with the subaltern subject. Focusing on the work of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, I will show how international legal discourses continue to marginalize the subaltern through either failing to include her perspective or, where attempts are made, by only being able to hear what we expect to hear. However, I also seek to show that this is not the entire picture. Indeed to focus only on this, as I myself and many other critical scholars have, is in fact reproducing a particular power dynamic. Instead, I conclude by suggesting that a shift towards analyzing the strategic ways in which subaltern subjects engage (and disengage) with the Enlightenment ideas embodied in international law opens up an important and productive site of resistance.

Item Type:

Book Section

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-30984-2_2

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology

Dates:

DateEvent
2 July 2016Published Online

Item ID:

22157

Date Deposited:

07 Nov 2017 12:25

Last Modified:

07 Nov 2017 12:25

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/22157

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