Sunday, June 28, 2020

Eslava & Hill: Cities, Post-Coloniality and International Law

Luis Eslava (Univ. of Kent - Law) & George Hill (Univ. of Cambridge) have posted Cities, Post-Coloniality and International Law (in Elgar Research Handbook on International Law and Cities, Helmut Aust & Janne Nijman eds., forthcoming). Here's the abstract:
In recent decades, the local, the municipal and the city have emerged as virtuous spaces where development and global integration can finally be achieved in the postcolony. In this chapter, we locate this emergence within a broader history of international attempts to organise and regularise urban life through multi-scalar governance structures. We identify these structures as having developed from a paradigm of direct imperial control over colonial cities, to a moment in which local life came to be organised through national logics, to the present resurgence of the local and municipal in more decentralised and indirect ordering processes. These transformations, which remind us that global governance has always been a hands-on project, have been fuelled by the intensification of the global economic order and the concomitant need to discipline lands, peoples and their fellow non-humans accordingly. The resurgence of the city as a locus of international discourse has created a dynamic interaction between international and local urban laws and development policies, which we identify in this chapter as ‘international urban law’. Our analysis points, however, not only to hegemonic forces in this interaction between the international and the local but also to the counter-hegemonic voices of resistance that have always punctuated debates about colonialism, decolonisation and cities in international law. As we demonstrate through a series of case studies, from Bogotá to Rio de Janeiro, and from Ulaanbaatar to Nairobi, today’s development programmes revive the colonial typology of cities as key nodes in global governance networks through euphemistically diverse yet still quite standardised patterns of disciplining. These case studies illuminate the socio-political (dis)arrangements underlying the present impetus towards making urban life legible and amenable to international prescriptions and the global economic order. Here we show how this reinvented brand of localised disciplining, and the resistance to it, are part and parcel of a post-colonial normative order that struggles to leave its imperial origins behind.