Disciplining the Global Social Body: Criminalization, Political Economy and International Law

Policing of illegal markets has contributed significantly to the strengthening of international law as an institutional presence. Such policing efforts both mediate and contribute to anxieties related to globalization. They also generate other significant effects in international space–including the formation of a global demos that may lay the groundwork for greater levels of global regulation in the future. The implications of this dynamic are strikingly at odds with traditional liberal theories of governance and of internationalization, suggesting that the foundation for governance is not contractarian but security-based. This project considers particular instances of this phenomenon, such as the growing international legal framework against trafficking in persons. It suggests that cultural and historical conceptions of gender and sexuality may be informing how policing and punishment tactics engage with disparate, feminized, precarious labor markets in the globalized economy. (Thomas)

Chantal Thomas is Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, where she directs the Clarke Initiative for Law and Development in the Middle East and North Africa. Her scholarship focuses on the relationship between international law, political economy, and global social justice in a variety of contexts. With Joel Trachtman, she is the author of Developing Countries in the WTO Legal System (Oxford University Press 2009).

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Co-presented with the Center for the Study of Law and Society and the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law.