Writing Race and Identity in a Global Context: What CRT and TWAIL Can Learn From Each Other

This Article argues that issues of race and identity have so far been underemphasized, understudied, and undertheorized in mainstream international law. To address this major gap, this Article argues that there is an opportunity for learning, sharing, and collaboration between Critical Race Theorists (CRT) and scholars of Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL). Such a collaboration, this Article argues, would produce a very sharp lens of tracing issues of race and identity in the imperial, transnational, and global histories of international law and their contemporary continuities. By adopting a framework of studying race and identity in a global context, this Article will tie together and connect the domestic and the international. It will connect transnational histories between locations inside and outside the United States that have undergirded and reinforced White supremacism, as well as anticolonial resistance, domestically and internationally. Taking such an approach overcomes the wide variety of segregated and insular conceptualizations and definitions of race and identity within CRT and TWAIL respectively. Building a TWAIL/CRT global/transnational race/histories project will create productive insights about ideologies of racial domination and racial injustices in a domestic, international, and transnational context. By combining the insights of CRT and TWAIL, it becomes possible to theorize imperialism and racism beyond those currently embodied in each approach.

About the Author

James Thuo Gathii is the Wing-Tat Lee Chair of International Law and Professor of Law at Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.