Dis-placed Justice: the Judicialization of Global Economic Relations

Authors: Shaina Potts*, UC Los Angeles
Topics: Economic Geography, Political Geography, Third World
Keywords: Law, political economy, judicialization, debt
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Studio 10, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Over the past half-century, judiciaries around the world have gained power over legislative, executive, and administrative legal decisions. This trend has so far received too little attention from critical social scientists, including geographers. Even legal scholars have almost entirely ignored the judicialization of economic decisions. Yet, the judicialization of economic relations has been especially pronounced; judiciaries must be understood alongside administrative agencies like the SEC, the CFTC, the CFPB and so on as playing a fundamental role in producing and sustaining economic geographies today. Based on close textual analyses of case documents from litigation involving foreign nationalizations of US property and “Third World” debt crises, I argue that judicialization has been a central lever for expanding US power over transnational economic relations in the Global South. In this way, judicialization is not only a national practice, by which the decisions of US political branches and administrative agencies over economic rules and regulations have come increasingly under the oversight of US courts – it is also a transnational process by which US courts have gained increasing control over the national economic decisions of other governments. US federal and New York state government actors have actively promoted these changes since the 1950s. Yet attending to the details of the legal geographies involved reveals that this transformation has also led to increasing tensions among US state actors in different agencies and at different scales.

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