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Law and the Global Political Economy (Reading Group)

Akshat Agarwal and Xiaolu Fan
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The global economic order is in flux. The Covid-19 pandemic, Russia’s war in Ukraine, rising tensions between the United States and China, and a more assertive and independent Global South have challenged long-held assumptions of global governance. Economic theories focusing on free trade and the power of independent markets have also come under criticism for deepening inequalities (race, wealth, gender etc.,) exacerbating the climate crisis, and disregarding labor welfare and the value of care.

The Law and Political Economy (LPE) movement in the American legal academy aims to question and understand the role of law in shaping the current political and economic framework, and explore alternative legal possibilities. While recognizing that this theorization is sensitive to context, this reading group seeks to use an LPE lens to examine and understand the global political economy.

By applying an LPE lens to global issues, the reading group explores various questions. These include the meaning of global capitalism, the role of the Global South, the dynamics between the center and periphery at the global level, the interconnectedness between domestic policies and international ones, and discussions on specific themes such as money, climate change, geo-conflict, human rights, race, and international development. The selection of such a broad range of topics is intended to encourage thinking about the interconnectedness (or lack thereof) of global issues. Throughout the semester, diverse materials spanning international law, history, foreign affairs, comparative studies, journalistic writing, and economics are read. In addition to more traditional accounts, the group also delves into perspectives such as TWAIL, feminist critiques, and critical race theory.