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 27: Nihilists, pragmatists and peasants: a dispatch on contradiction in international human rights law

Margot E. Salomon


This chapter engages theory to help human rights advocates see what they may not have seen before. It focuses on the new UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants, drawing on insights offered by one critical legal theory in particular – the commodity-form theory developed by the Soviet jurist Evgeny Pashukanis. It is through this lens that an analysis of the contradiction inherent in what is at times a radical normative project in developing international human rights law is presented. Here, critical legal theory helps reveal the paradoxes that have ostensible human rights successes perpetuate the suffering they seek to confront. The concluding section offers what appears to be the only solution to the conundrum that shows our most important human rights gains also to be our losses.

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