A queer reading of international law and its anxieties

Sen, Rohini (2021) A queer reading of international law and its anxieties. GNLU Law and Society Review, 3. pp. 33-55. ISSN 25822446

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This work is mostly an account of how we perform this queering in our reading along with the anxieties they generate both within and outside this process. While our anxieties are concomitant with those who are reading ‘against’ the mainstream, it also points to a deeper, structural anxiety in mainstream international law itself. Contrary to what a standard law school Public International Law (PIL) syllabus tells us, the anxiety of mainstream international law is much more than the uncertainty of outcome and how they deviate from established legal principles. Mainstream international law’s dilemma does not rest in how exploited (and hence realist) it is by the powerful states as against a universal legal framework. Through queering, the terms of the debate are placed on an entirely different axes – of who international is as against all those who are operating at some distance from this sight and site. For the mainstream structures, the anxiety lies in how well concealed its normative figure remains in order to make it universality palatable. And for others, this is represented in the uncertainty and secondary status of their position as knowledge makers and norm-taking objects. Because international law, in its true iteration is a European, Christian male, the inherent othering of all other identities invariably produces an exclusionary, desirable international legal personality. The trajectory of legality (and legitimacy) is a spectrum, representing the proximity to and from this figure, and the queer toolkit reading unveils this figure for what it visually represents and textually generates. The paper itself will demonstrate two readings from this point onward. In most of Part I, we will look at how international law operates through the state which is historically grounded in the image/form of the European, Christian Male. This part is deliberately textually opaque and it is up to the reader to make what they will of this section of the text. In Part II, we perform the queering and seeing together. Here, each iteration and account of international is subjected to critique as well as assigned an image. And finally, the conclusion accounts for a sense of collective anxiety of living international law that this text is likely to generate.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Queer theory | Critical approaches to international law
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Gender Studies
Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Mr. Syed Anas
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2022 10:32
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2022 10:32
Additional Information: This work is the product of exhausting pandemic labour and I am indebted to a host of people for simply being able to complete it in its current form. Dianne Otto’s Queering International Law forms the bulwark of this queer reading and is present throughout the text, the intertextual and the subtext. I am particularly grateful to GNLU Law and Society Review’s editorial team and Keertana for being extremely patient with my many failings to complete this text on time. And, I am grateful to Oishik Sircar for giving me the heuristics that eventually lead to this framing.
URI: https://pure.jgu.edu.in/id/eprint/1405


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