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The Dream of Formality: Racialisation Otherwise and International Economic Law

Alessandrini, Donatella, del Pilar Cortes-Nieto, Johanna, Eslava, Luis, Yilmaz Vastardis, Anil (2022) The Dream of Formality: Racialisation Otherwise and International Economic Law. Journal of International Economic Law, 25 . pp. 1-17. ISSN 1369-3034. E-ISSN 1464-3758. (doi:10.1093/jiel/jgac016) (KAR id:94985)

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This article explores the central role of formalisation in the history and functioning of international economic law (IEL). IEL, 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 IEL. It enables IEL 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 racialised – population. In a world where ‘informality’ is the norm and ‘formality’ the exception, formalisation’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 IEL 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 ‘racialisation otherwise’. Our question, then, is: what would IEL look like if it did not follow the dream of formality but instead embraced the challenge of sustaining life?

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/jiel/jgac016
Uncontrolled keywords: Informality, International Economic Law, Racial Capitalism, Value, Social Reproduction, Colombia
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Luis Eslava
Date Deposited: 11 May 2022 09:27 UTC
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2022 15:29 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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