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LGD 2009 (2) - Editorial: Reinventing the Book Review

Reinventing the Book Review

 
We would like to highlight a new approach to the book review in this issue. At the commencement of the Electronic Law Journals project, our ambition was to use the journal as a discursive forum. I wrote then of an experimental eEnvironment:
 
“This requires electronic law journals and reviews which are not mere replicas of paper journals. Instead electronic journals can promote 'living' intellectual discourse through uptodate and interactive information. However, the achievement of these objectives requires the overcoming of a number of obstacles, and in particular it is necessary to promote changes in academic legal culture which make writing and reading electronic journals an acceptable activity.” (Paliwala 1996)
 
Over the last decade, inspite of our significant successes in achieving these aims, one area in which things have not taken off in the way we would have hoped has been interactivity. However, we believe that with the rise of Web 2, blogging and social networks, the time may have come for the re-emergence of interactivity. We are making a small tentative step in this direction by featuring a new format Book Review Forum which includes the author’s introduction, extracts from the book and commentaries from a number of scholars. We commence this forum with Golder and Fitzpatrick’s Foucault’s Law which challenges the argument that
 
“says that with the advent of modernity Foucault expelled law from its erstwhile significance in society and relegated it to a position of utter subordination to, and dependence on, disciplinary modes of power, among other contenders” (Golder and Fitzpatrick This Issue).
 
We thank the authors and publishers and commentator/reviewers for their contributions. We look forward to further comments from readers.

 

The Refereed Articles

 
The refereed articles in this issue are varied but with two strong features. Four of the articles are by African scholars and all the articles have a strong Warwick connection with four articles by current Warwick PhD scholars. Professor Kamchedzera and Oche Onazi also have strong links with Warwick, both having been Warwick Law in Development scholars and having a continuing relationship with the law school.

 

Article Abstracts:

 

Baraza, M., ‘Institutional Re/membering: Collective Memory and the South African and Kenyan Truth and Reconciliation Projects’, 2009 (2) Law, Social Justice & Global Development Journal (LGD)
<http://www.go.warwick.ac.uk/elj/lgd/2009_2/baraza>
 
In the violent aftermath to Kenya’s controversial 2007 presidential elections a Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission was established to deal with the abuses of power, misuse of public office and gross human rights violations committed from the immediate post-independence period up to the violent and fatal clashes following the disputed elections. This article focuses the challenges faced by the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission in regard to collective memory and reconciliation and attempts to distil lessons vis-à-vis the Kenyan context and its recently initiated truth and reconciliation process. Through an analysis of the elements within the SATRC’s notion of reconciliation and its role in the mediation and determination of collective memory, the paper considers the conclusions drawn from this analysis of the South African experienceand hypothesises on the mnemonic challenges that Kenya’s Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission will have to grapple with in regard to its task of fostering reconciliation and national unity through the collectivisation of memory through the public presentation of the truths.

 

Kamchedzera, G. "'New' Global Development Cooperation Modalities and the Rights of the Orphaned Child", 2009 (2) Law, Social Justice & Global Development Journal (LGD) <http://www.go.warwick.ac.uk/elj/lgd/2009_2/Kamchedzera>
 
Baxi’s observation that a ‘trade-related’ or ‘market-friendly’discourse of human rights is gaining increasing dominance (Baxi, 2002) raises concerns about the dignified life of vulnerable people. Such people have no bargaining power to benefit from a trade-related human rights discourse. The broad argument in this paper is that useful human rights and development cooperation discourses have to be responsive to vulnerable people. A poignant test case for such responsiveness is that of orphaned children. This paper examines both human rights and development cooperation discourses in the light of current trends related to orphanhood. In particular, the paper interrogates the dominant modalities for the delivery of development cooperation in the context of human rights and their correlative duties. In this regard, the paper joins Tan to question the dominant modalities of development cooperation (Tan, 2005). The more specific argument in the paper is that there is a disconnect between ‘new’ development cooperation modalities and a human rights discourse based on dignified life for the orphaned child. The paper finds that the ‘new modalities’ are neither new nor legal nor effective for the dignified life of orphaned children.

 

Lawan, M. ‘Liberal Legalism and the Challenge of Development in Nigeria', 2009 (2) Law, Social Justice & Global Development Journal (LGD). <http://www.go.warwick.ac.uk/elj/lgd/2009_2/lawan>
 
Use of law in development as advocated by international development institutions particularly the World Bank has been embraced by Nigeria as a country searching for means of development. There is evidence of this embrace in the country’s adoption of the structural adjustment programme and the incorporation of the rule of law in recent development policies. This article argues that this approach is inadequate for Nigeria for two main interrelated reasons. First, the approach privileges the market at the expense of other socio-political concerns; and second, Nigeria’s main challenge to development is the socio-political issue of public corruption. The article therefore calls for more emphasis on public accountability as another element of good governance which ensures protection of public property for development.

 

Onazi, O. ‘Good Governance and Marketisation of Human Rights: A Critique of the Neoliberal Normative Approach’, 2009 (2) Law, Social Justice & Global Development Journal (LGD). <http://www.go.warwick.ac.uk/elj/lgd/2009_2/onazi>
 
A novelty of the current neoliberal development approach is its recognition of human rights as a precondition for constituting successful economic reforms. The good governance approach mainstreams this agenda, and departs from previous approaches, which had overlooked the social, structural and human aspects of economic reforms. Good governance now shapes the impact of human rights through the normative weight it attaches to markets. It is now common to find rather controversial arguments that consider the market economy as a prerequisite for human rights. Not surprisingly, the approach has attracted the criticism that it reduces human rights to a narrowly conceived market-friendly concept. This market-oriented view is frequently articulated in opposition to the state, given that the latter is generally mistrusted by the market. The arguments against the state are, of course, not without merit, given that the phenomenon of state failure is real and not imagined. The problem with these perspectives is that for the market pessimist or the state sceptic, there is little or no space for alternatives that allow a change in thinking, something that is so badly needed in human rights terms. At the moment, the language of state and market seems to dominate discussions about human rights. The market is considered as the only viable alternative to the state, so is the state considered as the only alternative to the market. This article rejects this commonly held view. It outlines and defends the possibility of an alternative in the idea of community, a concept that has suffered from the hegemony of the state and market. The potential of community, it is argued, cannot continue to be ignored, given that it can provide a significant framework, through which a number of supporting relationships can be built, especially to encourage the most deprived in society to develop abilities of democratic organization, ownership and autonomy over the processes of securing their human rights.

 

Saeed, R. ‘ Conceptualising Success and Failure for Social Movements’, 2009 (2) Law, Social Justice & Global Development Journal (LGD) <http://www.go.warwick.ac.uk/elj/lgd/2009_2/saeed>
 
The article discusses some of the most significant conceptions of success and failure present in the social movement literature, and highlights the gaps present in these theories. Through a seven-pronged critique, the paper stresses that the prevalent conceptions of movement success or failure are inherently unable to grasp the overall consequences and essence of a social struggle. Moreover, it is argued here that the problem lies not just in these conceptions, but also the concept of success or failure, because in its application to an entity as dynamic and complex as a struggle, it is unable to transcend beyond its black-and-white confines. It trivialises the concept of failure, which is an opportunity for learning from experiences, a chance for error correction and a prospect to rise higher than ever before.

 

Tsolakis, A. ‘Transnational Elite Forces, Restructuring and Resistance in Bolivia’, 2009 (2) Law, Social Justice & Global Development Journal (LGD). <http://www.go.warwick.ac.uk/elj/lgd/2009_2/Tsolakis>
 
This article offers a neo-Gramscian examination of the causes and processes underlying social restructuring in Bolivia between 1985 and 2005. Restructuring is understood as a worldwide political struggle by an expanding transnational historic bloc of elite social forces to reconfigure the capital-labour relation in order to sustain global capital accumulation. The transnational bloc expanded following the debt crisis of the early 1980s by incorporating transnationalised businessmen and technocrats beyond its transatlantic heartland. It also generated qualitative changes in the strategic approach of multilateral development institutions, which began to emphasise fiscal and monetary stability, the privatisation of accumulation, public-private partnerships, business class formation in the periphery, state-building and multilateralism. Meanwhile, Bolivia’s hyperinflationary crisis (1985) offered an opportunity for transnationalised elements of banking, mining and commercial fractions of Bolivian capital, to change the balance of forces within the three dominant political parties and vie for control of the state. This small elite nucleus, integrated into the transnational bloc primarily through official channels of development assistance, struggled against domestically-oriented elite forces and organised labour to restructure economic, ideological and institutional relations in the Bolivian space. These struggles involved the privatisation of accumulation, the attempt to build capital hegemony (i.e. to generate a consensual capitalist order) and the liberalisation of the state. Capital hegemony entailed equating ‘development’, ‘modernisation’ and capital accumulation.

 

References

 
Paliwala, A. (1996) 'From academic tombstones to living bazaars The changing shape of Law Reviews,' 1996 (1) The Journal of Information, Law and Technology (JILT). http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/1996_1/paliwala/ (Accessed 22 December 2009).
 
http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/lgd/2009_2/bookreview1/#a1