Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory
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Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory

Edited by Emilios Christodoulidis, Ruth Dukes and Marco Goldoni

Critical theory, characteristically linked with the politics of theoretical engagement, covers the manifold of the connections between theory and praxis. This thought-provoking Research Handbook captures the broad range of those connections as far as legal thought is concerned and retains an emphasis both on the politics of theory, and on the notion of theoretical engagement. The first part examines the question of definition and tracks the origins and development of critical legal theory along its European and North American trajectories. The second part looks at the thematic connections between the development of legal theory and other currents of critical thought such as; Feminism, Marxism, Critical Race Theory, varieties of post-modernism, as well as the various ‘turns’ (ethical, aesthetic, political) of critical legal theory. The third and final part explores particular fields of law, addressing the question how the field has been shaped by critical legal theory, or what critical approaches reveal about the field, with the clear focus on opportunities for social transformation.
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Chapter 24: International economic law’s wreckage: depoliticization, inequality, precarity

Nicolás M. Perrone and David Schneiderman


By purporting to depoliticize markets, international economic law complicates solutions to precarity and inequality within and between states and regions. Separating out markets from ordinary politics, the novel legal orders of trade and investment choose winners and losers, determining who will adapt to whom so as to render their policy goals most efficacious. In so doing, trade and investment law expresses preferences about how political and social life should be organized, rendering solutions to pressing social problems more difficult to address. This chapter interrogates these two legal regimes, arguing that they exhibit a similar tilt that favours global capital, precipitating similar legitimacy problems, and kindred responses that aim to manage the fallout. They reveal, in other words, startling comparable trajectories that rely on similar techniques to manage resistance. International economic law’s plan of action turns out to be unified: to deflect critique, disarm states and weaponize legal rules. We conclude that, so long as international economic law does not take precarity and inequality seriously, its trade and investment regimes will remain vulnerable to political blowback.

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