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Local Space, Global Life
The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development


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  • Date Published: July 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107092129

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About the Authors
  • Local Space, Global Life engages with the expansive, ground-level and intertwined operations of international law and the development project by discussing the current international focus on local jurisdictions. Since the mid-1980s, and through the discourse of decentralization, municipalities and cities in emerging nations have become the preferred spaces in which to promote global ideals of human, economic and environmental development. Through an ethnographic study of Bogotá's recent development experience and the city's changing relation to its illegal neighbourhoods, Luis Eslava interrogates this rationale and exposes the contradictions involved in the international turn to the local. Attentive to historical and current transformations, norms and praxis, and both ideology and materiality, he provides an innovative reading of the nature of international law and the development project, and reveals their impact on local spaces and lives at the urban periphery of today's world order.

    • Demonstrates the relevance of international law and international institutions to local legal and social orders
    • Combines normative, doctrinal and historical analyses with a sophisticated theoretical framework and an ethnographic approach
    • Examines the current importance of local development strategies in emergent nations in order to highlight both the discursive and material aspects of the international legal order
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    • Winner of the 2016 Hart Socio-Legal Book Prize, Socio-Legal Studies Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Every now and then, books come along which make us look afresh at things we thought we knew. Local Space, Global Life is one of those books. Eslava's meticulous analysis of the way international law shapes daily life in the Global South is given life by a resistant sensibility and fluency across disciplines. Considered through his lens, international law will never look the same again.' Sundhya Pahuja, University of Melbourne, and author of Decolonising International Law: Development, Economic Growth and the Politics of Universality

    'Luis Eslava's book is extraordinary. It examines sharply and deeply the contemporary interactions between international law and the development project. The book makes explicit the ways in which these interactions operate and shape both the national and local levels.' Daniel Bonilla Maldonado, Universidad de los Andes, Colombia, and editor of Constitutionalism of the Global South

    'Through this detailed study of the attempts of Bogotá to achieve development - a study that effectively combines insights and methods from ethnography, law, political economy and history - Luis Eslava succeeds in presenting us with a fresh understanding of the ways in which contemporary international law operates, and the manner in which it shapes the most intimate aspects of everyday life for the people enmeshed in such projects. Passionately and meticulously argued, deftly traversing different disciplines, this book modestly but powerfully suggests the need to rethink fundamental notions of sovereignty, the nation-state, citizenship, international law, development and international institutions. This is a superb work of quite astonishing range and insight.' Antony Anghie, University of Utah, and author of Imperialism Sovereignty and International Law

    'Global Space, Local Life is a profound reflection of the role of law in the history of the present. Situated, ethnographically, in Bogotá, it opens up a window onto the world at large by demonstrating how a culture of legality, parsed by local means and ends, has come to regulate so much of everyday life everywhere, not least in zones of illegality - this in a dialectical counterpoint with the proliferating workings of international jurisprudence, with the neoliberal turn toward decentralized development, and with the fetishism of 'the [typically undefined, eternally underspecified] local'. A must-read for anyone, whatever their discipline or their ideological convictions, concerned with law and society in the contemporary moment.' John Comaroff, Harvard University, Massachusetts, and co-author of Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America Is Evolving Toward Africa

    'Local Space, Global Life offers an illuminating analysis of the stakes involved in the current focus of international institutions upon transforming cities such as Bogotá into development success stories. Combining subtle ethnographic studies of the situation of people living on the outskirts of these cities in 'illegal settlements' with sophisticated conceptual analysis, the book provides a nuanced account of the turn the city in international law and development. A must-read for anyone struggling to make sense of the changing relationship of international law and development to the nation-state.' Anne Orford, University of Melbourne, and author of International Authority and the Responsibility to Protect

    'A fascinating book. Law shapes the worlds we inhabit, both locally and globally, and Eslava shows us how by mapping the formal and informal arrangements that generate urban space. The surprise is the significance of international law in the most local of places. A terrific case study of law in development.' David Kennedy, Harvard University, Massachusetts, and author of Of War and Law

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107092129
    • length: 374 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • contains: 36 b/w illus. 7 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Building the global from the local
    3. Development and the nation-state
    4. Development changes places
    5. The making of a new Bogotá
    6. The local self of the international
    7. Conclusions.

  • Author

    Luis Eslava, University of Kent, Canterbury
    Luis Eslava is a lecturer in international law at Kent Law School, a senior fellow at Melbourne Law School, and an international professor at Universidad Externado de Colombia. He teaches and writes in the areas of international law, international legal theory and history, anthropology of international law, public law, law and development, and urban law and politics.


    • Winner of the 2016 Hart Socio-Legal Book Prize, Socio-Legal Studies Association
    • Winner of the 2016 Hart Socio-Legal Prize for Early Career Academics, Socio-Legal Studies Association

Interview with Dr Luis Eslava on his latest book 'Local Space, Global Life'

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