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Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context

The Law and Marxism Series

The 'power and capital stream' of the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context (CLSGC) is launching the 'Law and Marxism Series', a new forum featuring the work of the many exciting scholars researching and writing within the Marxist tradition from around the world. We begin the new series with a discussion of recently published books within this tradition, in conversation with the authors and other scholars from across the humanities and social sciences.

Global Justice and Social Conflict: The Foundations of Liberal Order

To launch the series, we invited Tarik Kocki (University of Sussex) to discuss his new book ‘Global Justice and Social Conflict: The Foundations of Liberal Order’ with discussants Dr Christine Schwobel-Patel (Warwick) and Kelly Jo Bluen (LSE). Tarik Kochi argues that to think seriously about global justice we need to understand how both liberalism and neoliberalism have pushed aside rival ideas of social and economic justice in the name of private property, individualistic rights, state security and capitalist ‘free’ markets. Ranging from ancient concepts of natural law and republican constitutionalism, to early modern ideas of natural rights and political economy, and to contemporary discourses of human rights, humanitarian war and global constitutionalism, Kochi shows how the key foundational elements of a now globalised political, economic and juridical tradition are constituted and continually beset by struggles over what counts as justice and over how to realise it. Engaging with a wide range of thinkers and reaching provocatively across a breadth of subject areas, Kochi investigates the roots of many globalised struggles over justice, human rights, democracy and equality, and offers an alternative constitutional understanding of the future of emancipatory politics and international law.”

Jurisdictional Accumulation: An Early Modern History of Law, Empires, and Capital

In the next of our series, we had Maia Pal launch her book ‘Jurisdictional Accumulation: An Early Modern History of Law, Empires, and Capital’. Joined by discussants. This book is concerned with various diplomatic and colonial agents which enabled the transports and transplants of sovereign authority. Through historical analyses of ambassadors and consuls in the Mediterranean based on primary and secondary material, and on the empires' Atlantic imperial expansions and conquests, the book makes a major analytical contribution to historical sociology. As an interdisciplinary exercise in conceptual innovation based on a Political Marxist framework and its concept of social property relations, the book goes beyond common binaries in both conventional and critical histories. The new concept of jurisdictional accumulation brings ambassadors, consuls, merchants, and lawyers out of the shadows of empire and onto the main stage of the construction of modern international relations and international law. Dr Pal was joined by Professor Claire Cutler and Professor Benno Teschke.

Capitalism As Civilisation

The final book discussion of our series this year explores Ntina’s Tzoulava’s ‘Capitalism as Civilisation’. Methodologically and theoretically innovative, Ntina Tzouvala’s monograph draws from Marxism and deconstruction bringing together the textual and the material in our understanding of international law. Approaching 'civilisation' as an argumentative pattern related to the distribution of rights and duties amongst different communities, Ntina Tzouvala illustrates both its contradictory nature and its pro-capitalist bias. 'Civilisation' is shown to oscillate between two poles. On the one hand, a pervasive 'logic of improvement' anchors legal equality to demands that non-Western polities undertake extensive domestic reforms and embrace capitalist modernity. On the other, an insistent 'logic of biology' constantly postpones such a prospect based on ideas of immutable difference. By detailing the tension and synergies between these two logics, Tzouvala argues that international law incorporates and attempts to mediate the contradictions of capitalism as a global system of production and exchange that both homogenises and stratifies societies, populations and space.

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