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The Dream of Formality: Racialisation Otherwise and International Economic Law

Yilmaz Vastardis, Anil and Eslava, Luis and Alessandrini, Donatella and del Pilar Cortes Nieto, Johanna (2022) 'The Dream of Formality: Racialisation Otherwise and International Economic Law.' Journal of International Economic Law. ISSN 1369-3034

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This article explores the central role of formalization in the history and functioning of international economic law. International economic law, in constituting and managing a ‘modern’ world economy, has relied on what we call ‘the dream of formality’. This dream gives a sense of internal coherence and future totality to international economic law. It enables international economic law to claim awareness and progressive inclusion of socio-economic and legal relations outside the ‘formal’ modern economy while enabling a regime of differentiation of the so-called ‘surplus’—often racialized—population. In a world where ‘informality’ is the norm and ‘formality’ is the exception, formalization’s colonial origins have evolved into a fully-fledged regime of social management and value extraction. This regime has embedded itself in international labour law and human rights, as well as in areas of international economic law such as Aid for Trade and Global Value Chains. Building on contemporary debates on racial and post-colonial capitalism, we focus on Colombia’s informal economy to illustrate the elusiveness of the dream of formality, and how current exercises of othering underpin today’s practices of ‘racialization otherwise’. Our question, then, is: what would international economic law look like if it did not follow the dream of formality but instead embraced the challenge of sustaining life?

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Informality; International Economic Law; Racial Capitalism; Value; Social Reproduction; Colombia
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Law, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2022 13:36
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2022 15:01

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