Edited by Moshe Hirsch and Andrew Lang
Chapter 7: International lawyers and the study of expertise: representationalism and performativity
This chapter uses the literature on indicators in global governance as the starting point for a reflection on the assumptions which international lawyers have tended to bring to their study of expertise – concerning what knowledge is, the sort of social work it does, and the range of critical responses which are most usefully brought to bear on it. Using a distinction between the idioms of ‘performativity’ and ‘representationalism’ drawn from sociology of science, the chapter argues that there are some aspects of contemporary expert practices in global governance which are inadequately accounted for when international lawyers work within the representationalist idiom. The author observes that a number of post-structuralist, post-positivist critical responses to universalizing knowledge have already been internalized into the practice of global expertise, rendering most of the traditional critical toolkit beside the point. The author claims that refreshing our conceptual apparatus, by adopting some version of a ‘performative idiom’ in our approach to expertise in global governance, may help us to see and understand more fully the range of work which knowledge practices do in contemporary global governance, and help us to develop a different toolkit of interventions by which we may adequately respond to them.
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