Dense struggle

On ghosts, law and the global order

Authored by: Luis Eslava

Routledge Handbook of Law and Theory

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138956469
eBook ISBN: 9781315665733
Adobe ISBN:


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Today’s global order is characterised by a constellation of ever more closely imbricated relationships among different laws, levels of government, managerial techniques, economic, political and social forces and deeply engrained antagonisms. This chapter tries to rethink this – our – global order as a site of ‘dense struggle’, using a body of visual and ethnographic material gathered over a period of six months in 2009, when I accompanied a group of internally displaced people (IDPs) protesting in the city of Bogotá, Colombia. During this period, this group engaged in a long and unsuccessful protest for the recognition of their rights as IDPs against the local administration of Bogotá, the national government and various international institutions. In following their protest, their agonies and a ghost that appeared in the middle of all of this, it is possible to appreciate some of the products of today’s global order, and in particular what this order produces on its margins, home to the popular, the (supposedly) anti-modern, the otherworldly. Three suggestions emerge from this exercise. First, it becomes possible to question anew what law does and how it is experienced in our global times. Second, it helps us to recalibrate what our response should be once we remember that our assumedly uniform late modern, globalised, capitalist and disenchanted present is healthily plagued by frictions and clashes – clashes through which other worlds speak. Finally, it invites us to consider the value of approaching law ethnographically in these dense times.

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