The purpose of this paper is dual, and it has to do with specificity. First, it aims to show that a “law and political economy” approach to international law has been and will be distinct from its US counterpart. To do so, it offers an overview of both the prevailing approaches to and critical engagements with the field. Having shown that neoliberal hegemony is upheld within international law by an admixture of heterogeneous modes of reasoning, the author proceed to argue that this heterogeneity also permeates critical scholarship. This heterogeneity has enabled critical approaches to flourish, but often to the detriment of a consistent, coherent, and purposeful engagement with political economy. The second aim is to show that Marxism offers a distinct and distinctly useful set of analytical tools for international law. Having offered an overview of existing strands of Marxist thought, the author also reflects on the work that remains to be done.
International Law and (the Critique of) Political Economy
Ntina Tzouvala is an associate professor at the ANU College of Law. Her work focuses on the history, theory, and political economy of international law. Her first monograph, Capitalism as Civilisation: A History of International Law, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020.
Ntina Tzouvala; International Law and (the Critique of) Political Economy. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 April 2022; 121 (2): 297–320. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9663618
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