Landscapes of Law shows that assertions of national culture are not always a retreat from globalism but a way of managing the contested zone between borderless capital and bordered states. A roster of international, interdisciplinary contributors offer innovative, ethnographic analyses of the ways culture works through transnational law.
2020 | 352 pages | Cloth $65.00
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Table of Contents
Introduction. Mapping Culture onto Transnational Law
Carol J. Greenhouse and Christina L. Davis
Chapter 1. A Journey Through Law's Landscapes: Close Encounters of the Scalar Kind
Chapter 2. Intersecting Legal Spaces: International Trade and Anticorruption Law
Chapter 3. Changing Internally to Engage Externally: China and the WTO Legal System
Gregory Shaffer and Henry Gao
Chapter 4. The "Africa Bar" of Paris: A Microcosm of Interconnected Histories of Legal Globalization
Chapter 5. Cultural Difference as Legal Resolution: The Raising of the Ehime Maru
Chapter 6. Landscapes of Law in War-Torn Societies
Mark Fathi Massoud
Chapter 7. Uncertain Sovereignties: Indigenous-State Relations in Colombia
Chapter 8. Between Sovereignty and Transnationalism: The European Union as an Incomplete "Transnational Legal Space"
Marie-Claire Foblets and Katayoun Alidadi
Chapter 9. The Emergence of Digital Communities: Generating Trust, Managing Conflicts, and Regulating Globality . . . Digitality
Teresa Rodríguez-de-las-Heras Ballell
Chapter 10. Landscapes of Actually Existing Liberalism: Some Thoughts on the Historical Dialectic of Liberty and Philanthropy
List of Contributors
Mapping Culture onto Transnational Law
Carol J. Greenhouse and Christina L. Davis
The recent surge of right-wing populism in Europe and the United States is widely read as evidence of ongoing challenges to the policies and institutions of globalization (Korostelina 2017; Müller 2016: 1). Appeals to preserve a distinct national culture have become a mainstay of populist rhetoric and a refrain in scholarly and media accounts. But the appeal to culture as the basis for nationalism is not restricted to the ethnonationalisms of the developing world outside of industrial democracies, or to fringe groups within them. This volume reveals how national culture also emerges as a central idea in the pursuit of transnationalism. The premise that there is some inherent tension between nationalism and globalism is misleading. Nationalism—whether asserted explicitly as state sovereignty or implicitly as cultural community—is integral to the ways that interests, powers, and partnerships are mobilized in transnational law, and drawn into the contested zone between borderless capital and bordered states.
This Introduction begins with the observation that national culture is not derived only from localized processes of cultural identification that form an "imagined community" (Anderson 1991). Contributors illustrate ways in which claims of national difference are also produced within transnational institutions. In some of their case studies, such claims are worked into policy prescriptions or legal arrangements. In others, they provide ad hoc bargaining chips. In a variety of ways, contributors emphasize the formal and informal means by which the idea of a collective national subject is integral to the ways transnational institutions themselves work. They show that assertions of national culture outside of state boundaries consolidate states' representational efficacy. The stakes in such assertions, and the political risks associated with them, are potentially very high, both at home and abroad—recent populisms being a case in point.
Populist rhetoric often portrays transnational institutions as attacking national culture—a complex trope pitting national governments against alliances of homegrown and distant elites. Closer examination reveals circumstances in which transnational processes readily accommodate cultural claims—and even promote them—when these are formulated as expressions of national sovereignty. In such contexts, nationalism is not antithetical to the interests of global elites, but rather offers a discourse through which the very distinction between domestic and foreign interests may be expediently suspended or activated, depending on the circumstance. As each chapter reflects on the feedback processes between local and global assertions of the nation or national culture, contributors point to fresh paths for research about the relationships among transnationalism, law, and culture. The theoretical implications of this volume generate a fresh understanding of transnational law that challenges the conventional separation of the individual, community, society, nations, and international spaces into categories on a spectrum from private to public (see especially the chapters by Basaran; Valverde; and Rodríguez-de-las-Heras Ballell). Landscapes of Law shows the diverse ways in which the idea of national culture rearranges that spectrum, knotting it in unexpected ways—for example, placing the individual at the conjuncture of international and national spheres (see the chapters by Brewster; Dezalay; Foblets and Alidadi; Massoud; and Shaffer and Gao), or transforming private emotion into rights with transnational significance (see the chapters by Brunnegger; Leheny; and Rodríguez-de-las-Heras Ballell).
In standard accounts of transnationalism, culture is theorized as a channel continuously projecting local interests, meanings, and social patterns outward, to larger arenas. In our account, we suspend the primacy of localism in favor of examining the way cultural claims operate in transnational institutions and practices—and are sometimes generated by them. Again, we emphasize the dual character of national culture in such contexts—sometimes in a hard form as a bright line between international and domestic law (e.g., the chapters by Brewster and Shaffer and Gao), sometimes in a soft form as a generalized claim of national difference in cultural terms (e.g., the chapters by Brunnegger and Leheny). The writings here underscore the conceptual relevance of culture in both of these senses, in episodic contexts of relational uncertainty, for example, strategically clarifying distinct interests while avoiding an overt clash over principles or frameworks.
While contributors highlight the diverse relevance of nationalism within global contexts, they also demonstrate that the idea of national culture is neither limited to local origin nor erased in a transnational society. The interaction of states may support the emergence of larger identities as regions or collectives (see, e.g., Acharya 2012; Schimmelfennig 2001), but often this is alongside national expressions of authority and identity, rather than as their substitute. In Chapter 9, Rodríguez-de-las-Heras Ballell explores how even digital communities emerge from a "multi-national response to globality." The most advanced regional project in Europe faces an apparent impasse in which harmonization of law is conceived as entailing the creation of a transnational culture (see Chapter 8, Foblets and Alidadi).
This volume focuses on the practical workings of law in various settings. Contributors show how state-based transnationalism valorizes the idea of a national collective subject as a logical expression of state sovereignty, thus claiming (successfully or not) space to maneuver between countervailing global and domestic pressures. In this sense, discourses of national culture and global transnationalism are not automatically antithetical, as in those cases framed by an opposition between preservation of national culture and compliance with international law. Under other circumstances examined in this book, national and transnational discourses are mutually reinforcing, as states and international entrepreneurs within transnational agencies build complementary processes that either shape the law around cultural terms or provide exceptions that accommodate diversity. In the transnational arena, a claim of national culture can be an expedient proxy for state interests—a strategically placed cushion against breaks in the transnational order as borderless capital flows unevenly across sovereign terrains. As several chapters show, this insight also illuminates domestic situations in which cultural claims feature in a discourse of administration in contexts of legal and political ambiguity (see especially the chapters by Brunnegger and Massoud).
Recognizing that the idea of culture is integral to transnationalism opens fresh ethnographic questions with regard to transnational governance and legal mobilization, for example, in human rights, transitional justice, peacemaking, mediation and arbitration, rural and urban labor movements, and counterglobalization projects (Edelman 2005; Evans 2008; Hinton 2017; Santos 2008). At the same time, it rearranges other questions of long standing, particularly where these concern the relationship of local and global social orders (Hannerz 1989; Keohane 1995). Landscapes of Law presents several alternatives to well-established conventions of assuming a connective tissue of cultural and legal processes across diverse scales (a "justice façade" in Hinton's  critical formulation) and a procedural congruence across local and international legal processes such that ethnonationalism is necessarily disruptive (see Goodale 2017: 186-193, esp. 187; Merry 2006a: 102). The contributors to this volume show that the effects of nationalism and transnationalism through law are not likely to be continuous in some causal, scalar, or temporal way—hence the value of examining them at close range, to see what they consist of from the standpoints of participants (Goodale 2007: 4-5; Goodale and Merry 2007). Moreover, they examine efforts by governments to insert national culture into transnational legal processes—not as legalities in themselves, but as symbolic operators in the politics of transnational negotiation and in the organization of legal activity. From these perspectives, claims of national culture are integral to transnationalism—expanding the bargaining room where national constituencies are involved and extending the cosmopolitanism of the international sphere. That said, for this same reason, we must stress that nationalist claims in the transnational context do not necessarily speak for majority or minority cultural communities within or among states. Nationalism is always ambiguous, its inclusivity or exclusivity undecidable in the abstract.
Contributors probe the relationship of transnationalism to claims of national culture from three main angles. The opening chapters (by Basaran; Brewster; Shaffer and Gao; Dezalay; and Leheny) show in detail how transnational law—in trade, investment, and diplomacy—relies on an explicit association of state sovereignty with national culture. The next two chapters (by Brunnegger and Massoud) retain those issues while also exploring transnational investments in law as integral to projects of economic development and democratization within states. The last chapters (by Foblets and Alidadi; Rodríguez-de-las-Heras Ballell; and Valverde) again retain the threads of earlier parts of the book while exploring transnational law projects outside the confines of state institutions—in relation to refugee law in the European Union, digitality, and liberal notions of liberty and philanthropy. In these latter chapters, jurisdiction becomes ambiguous in relation to the territoriality of states, inviting or demanding new forms of legal imagination. Overall, the book moves across a variety of transnational and national terrains, opening with situations defined explicitly as international, ultimately moving beyond sovereign territory to reveal a more diverse transnational legal landscape, concluding in a chapter on the globalization of digital space.
Throughout, as the organization of the book implies, the internationalist model of transnationalism gives way to other paradigms—multiple sovereignties, contractual proliferation, and digital communities among them. From diverse perspectives, contributors examine those actors who struggle to sustain the law's relevance as a defense of their interests and values, and in the process cultivate the landscapes of law in the conceptual and practical spaces left open between borderless capitalism and bordered states. This portrayal reveals the possibility for populism to coexist with and even reinforce globalization. For scholars and other observers, that possibility may not be evident in legal texts or institutional mandates, but it becomes visible to the extent that concrete circumstances of making and living with law are examined at close range—an approach that is axiomatic to ethnographers of law. The connecting theme of this book overall is thus the visible nexus of claims of national culture, state sovereignty, and transnational law.
In the contexts explored in these chapters, the idea of a collective national subject sometimes offers actors a degree of flexibility that allows them to avoid rigid compliance with treaties and institutional protocols under the rubric of national difference. The term culture often refers to a collective subject within its local context, and is ordinarily assumed to erode with the emergence of transnationalism. That understanding of culture has been advanced by anthropologists over the past century and more—an idea that now circulates widely within and well beyond academic disciplines as a rubric of (mainly) subnational identity, community, and attachment. It might seem to follow that transnationalism would mitigate claims to national culture, as states are drawn into myriad transnational arrangements. But transnationalism sustains its own characteristic reifications of culture. For example, actors negotiating global rules and markets may uphold cultural claims to insert their preferences within these transnational contexts. In this way, even as the essentialisms of culture as a concept are contested by scholars, the idea of culture represents forms of domestic interest that have been routinely used by individuals, firms, and governments in "two-level games" at the intersection of local and transnational (Putnam 1988). We see truth in the words of anthropologist William Mazzarella, who aptly refers to "the culture concept, half-abandoned in anthropological theory and celebrated everywhere else" (Mazzarella 2004: 345). The idea of cultural collectivity surfaces in a variety of ways in this volume, but always with a strategic element aimed at shaping the negotiation of global rules or the response to those rules, or to manage other sorts of transnational dilemmas at home or abroad.
Contributors to this volume examine how the idea of national culture functions as an assertion of state sovereignty in the settings of transnational law. Each chapter challenges the conventional wisdom that nationalism must assume an antagonistic relationship with transnationalism, as well as the underlying logic associating transnationalism with elite interests on which that assumption rests. For example, in Chapter 2, Rachel Brewster compares world trading rules and antibribery law, and observes that the separation of these two bodies of law purposely leaves room for what are presumed to be cultural differences with respect to customs of gifting and other transfers in the context of designing agreements. In Chapter 5, David Leheny details the deployment of an idea of cultural difference between the United States and Japan to defray tensions and recast questions of liability in the aftermath of an avoidable naval accident at sea. In Chapter 7, Sandra Brunnegger considers the investments of international NGOs in Colombia's legal pluralism to bolster indigenous legal authority—with unintended consequences. In Chapter 3, Gregory Shaffer and Henry Gao examine China's multifaceted effort to build capacity for using World Trade Organization (WTO) law by developing a WTO culture within China, involving a surprisingly wide range of legal and social institutions.
Landscapes of Law advances the claim that far from being inherently antithetical to transnationalism, key elements of nationalism that are now commonly associated with populism arise and circulate within transnational arenas—in spaces opened by the transnational arenas themselves. For example, demands for particular policies or parameters of diplomatic negotiations may seek domestic compromises rather than simply transactional bargains over discrete issues. Recognizing that cultural nationalism and globalism are mutually reinforcing should not be misread as assurance of some steady state equilibrium or promise of convergence. This volume's perspective emphasizes the synergistic relations of state sovereignty and transnationalism, illuminating both the "high politics" of transnationalism (see Krasner 1999: chap. 4, esp. p. 26) and the potential for alienation or fracture in the very situations where such politics take a cultural form (as in the chapters in this volume by Brunnegger; Dezalay; Leheny; and Valverde). We share Ruggie's view of the state as a mechanism of social empowerment under some circumstances, as state representatives seek to embed domestic demands within international institutions (Ruggie 1982, 1993: 160). As already suggested above, this observation seriously complicates the conventional explanations of recent political polarization in the United States and Europe, drawing attention to the inadequacy of an analysis of populism limited to the grievances of uneducated or un- or underemployed populations. Populism also expresses elite interests that form new coalitions among unlikely partners. While we do not examine populism directly, the book reveals the potential for conflict within and across populist movements and differences in how populist claims emerge within transnational venues.
When state and nonstate actors (including firms and activist groups) elevate the idea of a national culture, their advocacy does not automatically weaken the transnational arena. Under some circumstances, they strengthen it. Parties may use claims of national culture to shift between poles of cooperation and resistance to the global institutions that guide or govern trade, security, human rights, and other forms of transnationalism. The discourse of national culture pairs an idea of social substance with legal sovereignty that may help states position themselves amid an evolving set of transnational legal regimes. Such expressions of national culture within the process of regulating globalization potentially provide vital flexibility, similar to the escape clauses and loose enforcement rules that help sustain global regimes in practice (Davis 2012; Downs and Rocke 1995; Rosendorff 2005; Shaffer 2015; Simmons 1998). States are central in diverse and sometimes contradictory ways to the survival of global organizations (Niezen and Sapignoli 2017: 1). In short, the utility of culture as a tool for navigating international arenas serves a wide range of interests. Indeed, there is a new ambiguity with respect to standard accounts of divided interests between elites and the working class in that both advocate the need to preserve a collective state in a discourse of national culture, albeit with different goals.
In referring to national cultures, we do not mean that nations actually have characteristic cultures that could be objectively described and placed in juxtaposition to globalization. The history of anthropology's concept of culture points to nineteenth-century ideas of state nationalism, but questions of national culture and national character have long since dropped out of the discipline, having been settled (in the negative) by anthropologists and other scholars (see, e.g., Appadurai 1996; Mazzarella 2004; Simmons 1998). But the histories and "fantasies" (Navaro-Yashin 2002) that sustain the discourse of national culture within states do not end at the border; they may travel intact into the transnational space. Thus, this book's contributors pursue in various ways the political and legal implications of claiming an association between state sovereignty and a national culture in transnational spaces. As already suggested, such claims can be a strategic asset to signal areas of resistance or openness to international commitments (on states' motivations in international agreements, see Brewster 2003). Through acknowledging the cultural differences that are implied by sovereignty, states retain a strategic ambiguity about their willingness to cooperate. Leaving the parameters of national culture undefined better serves this strategy than could any definitive understanding of what constitutes a national culture in theory or practice.
Populism, Nationalism, Internationalism, and Transnationalism
When states embed national culture within their claims of sovereignty, they generate what has been referred to as political nationalism (Hurrell 2007: 122). Doing so asserts the legitimate authority of a state to act within the international community by virtue of its role as a government that represents a national public. Nationalism occupied a major research agenda in the social sciences in the late 1980s and 1990s, as socialism gave way to capitalism in many parts of the world, and as the retreat, and then the breakup, of the Soviet Union unleashed a wave of ethnonationalist movements in Europe and the Middle East. Those ethnic nationalisms involved strong claims to rights, recognition, and sovereignty—ultimately revising the map of Europe, the Caucasus, and the Middle East. The legal connection between culture, territory, and the legitimacy of sovereignty claims has been further tested by indigenous peoples before national and international law tribunals, as well as by ethnonationalist movements (Comaroff and Comaroff 2009). These are ongoing developments that yield horizons of conflict along which culture is widely taken to be external (if not an impediment) to international law (Goodale 2017: chap. 8). Such a framing rests on an assumption that culture is inherently exclusive—out of place in a cosmopolitan legal order (Goodale 2017: 190). As explained already, our starting assumptions resist any structural generality of culture in this sense.
Accordingly, what is different in the scenarios examined in this book is the association of culture/territory/sovereignty by states in their active management of relations within transnational legal regimes. It is in this context that we observe the surprising efficacy of nationalist (and even populist) discourse within the very legal arenas and instruments of transnationalism (negotiations, agreements, dispute settlement, etc.). In these circumstances, culture is not outside international law, but integral to its discourses, practices, and, as Annelise Riles has observed, its instrumentalities (2006: 61). In this sense, counterintuitively, perhaps, the notion of a global citizenry is antithetical to the forms of cosmopolitanism analyzed in this volume, as they circulate across transnational spaces. For some, if not most, actors discussed in these chapters, entry into the transnational arena is necessarily connected to national citizenship understood in cultural terms, such that a "global citizen" would have no place. Even the "civilization of modernity" described by Peter Katzenstein (2010: 1) as involving a pluralist order of states loosely bound by a shared sense of individualism and diversity entails parameters set by states when they insert exceptions based on claims of national culture into international law. Law privileges the credentials of a state represented by its government and individuals empowered by their status as citizens.
From this perspective, contemporary transnationalism can be understood as projecting the history of the modern state onward—a history that involved the appropriation of the moral discourses of diverse constituent communities into the self-legitimating discourse of states (as influentially remarked by Corrigan and Sayer 1985). The territorial state organized and consolidated formerly self-governing or semi-autonomous groups into a spatialized unit that asserted an over-arching autonomy to develop its own institutions for governance (Corrigan and Sayer 1985; Ruggie 1993)—leaving open the form of rule and the ideological content of political nationalism. In the same way, in the different contexts examined in this book, the discourse of political nationalism is viewed as inherently relational, diverse, and flexible. Indeed, political nationalism "has been the most persistent and pervasive ideology of the modern state system" due in part to "its capacity to meld and mesh with other ideological systems" (Hurrell 2007: 122). The systems at issue in this book include liberalism and communism, U.S. federalism and the European Union, indigenous and postcolonial communities within multicultural states, and digital and other social networks—among other relations and commitments.
These observations help account for the fact that the Brexit referendum and the Trump candidacy succeeded through an unexpected alliance between workers and capitalists. The populist antiglobalization movements that swept the UK and US in recent election cycles did not promote a redistributive program that would directly benefit their own local communities or a broad social movement. Rather, they focused on the distribution of globalization's benefits across participating states, dividing workers at the territorial borders. The decision process itself was a point of contention, as transnational government formed the bogeyman—a target that, in the political aftermath, has proven to be elusive given the mutual embeddedness of domestic and foreign interests.
These populist movements create a common cause between workers and employers within the state by blaming economic volatility on global markets for trade, immigration, and putative global elites who (by definition) fail to represent the national interest. They assert that only through rejecting the rules of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the European Union could national governments set a future course on these critical policies. Encroachment of international rules on the autonomy of the state to shape policies about immigration and trade was framed as a threat to national culture and not simply a challenge to the interests of specific constituencies. As noted by Chantal Mouffe, "Populism is not an ideology or a political regime, and cannot be attributed to a specific programmatic content. It is compatible with different forms of government. It is a way of doing politics . . . [and] reconfiguring a social order" (Mouffe 2016; see also Green 2017; Mouffe  2005). Both elites and workers acting on both the right and left spectrums of the political arena could mobilize support by claiming to protect the state role as guardian of national culture. Those in the UK who called for leaving the EU also spoke of supporting trade liberalization but said the terms of engagement with the global economy should be set by the British government. Similarly, President Trump rejected multilateralism in favor of bilateral deals, without suggesting that the US should withdraw from the global economy. This volume does not engage directly with populism per se, but the contributions are evidence that populist challenges motivate a scholarly reexamination of the local and global as concepts that do heavy work within transnationalism.
In sum, to the extent that transnationalism leads governments to deploy their own powers in the global arena, it potentially exaggerates the importance of sovereign states as the nations they claim to represent. At the same time, to the extent that transnationalism requires that governments accept constraints imposed by international law, they can underestimate the importance of the nation in the lives of their own citizens. Accordingly, the idea of culture gains strategic value in the flexibility it affords key actors in accepting the benefits of participation in transnational governance while resisting the prospect of the dissolution of national publics and their interests within the transnational space. Under such circumstances it is pointless to ask whose culture it is; it belongs to no one, though it can involve strong attachments and exclusions—and it can be fueled by political demands based on group identity. This means that the spaces where transnationalism is actually made—at once social, legal, conceptual, and corporeal—merit close study.
Transnationalism and Law
Landscapes of Law addresses transnational law as it is applied in specific circumstances. The broad range of applications examined in these chapters serves two purposes. First, it allows each author to engage the substantive themes of the volume with theories and methods from their own disciplinary perspective. Second, the variety of cases reinforces the point that transnationalism eludes generality, given the proliferation of global institutions and their contradictory mandates and practices (Niezen and Sapignoli 2017: 1-2). The authority of law varies by context (Alter, Helfer, and Madsen 2016). The focus here is therefore selective: Legal doctrine or legal institutions are considered to be passages where transnationalism is visibly fashioned and refashioned by actors who may seek to deepen or create distance in their relationships with each other. Law is not a passive text but an active part of negotiation to be contested or celebrated and implemented or ignored as it changes over time in both words and interpreted meaning. Contributors avoid an a priori commitment to any fixed relation between law and society so as to more fully specify the associations they observe in each case that is examined; this effort forms the ethnographic core of the volume.
The authors examine the social relations of a transnational legal space that might seem to be located everywhere and nowhere (see, e.g., Goldstein et al. 2000; Latour 2010; for exceptions, see, e.g., Dezalay 2017; Riles 2006, 2011, 2017). This perspective complements those who explore the evolution of law as a matter of past trials shaping future behavior by forming new perceptions of the law (Johns 2015; Sikkink 2011) and models of institutional design (Alter 2014). The relationship between law and social life remains an elusive theoretical problem for legal anthropology (Kesselring et al. 2017; Sapignoli 2017), in part because law and society are conventionally portrayed as distinct jurisdictions and scales—placing law "above" or "outside of" social fields and beliefs.
By contrast, in these chapters, nationalism and transnationalism are considered to be made of the same cloth; they are not distinct levels or scales (see Valverde 2009). The contributors find novel ethnographic sites at the locations where the meanings of culture, territoriality, and sovereignty are implicated as open questions in the very ways transnational law is made and made to work. For example, in some contexts, transnational relations among firms or governments are also interpersonal relations among lawyers, subject to inequalities and exclusions that tether transnational law in practice to what may be highly personal repertoires of judgment, with significant material effects (see Dezalay and Massoud, this volume). The ethnographic implications explored here align with anthropological and sociolegal studies of law. Landscapes of Law is also indebted to international relations scholarship. Widespread attention to how domestic politics shape engagement with international law in the field of political science has divided into studies of interest groups and representation (e.g., Davis 2012; Moravcsik 1998; Simmons 2009) versus norms and transnational networks of nonstate actors (e.g., Sikkink 2011; Slaughter 2004). More complex interactions between interests, norms, and the state emerge in the chapters of this volume.
"Transnational legal ordering" (Shaffer 2016) is the subject of vast literatures in the areas of public and private international law, as well as law involving nonstate actors (see Halliday and Shaffer 2015). The legal aspects of transnationalism—together with the significant role they preserve for national states—have been less studied by anthropologists and international relations scholars. The reasons for this are complex, for the most part beyond the scope of this volume. But to the extent that one major reason is the conventional separation of the disciplines, we hope this volume will encourage others to paint doors on their disciplines' walls, and walk through them.
With regard to its legal focus, Landscapes of Law counters the view that transnationalism is primarily a natural consequence of global capitalism. The putatively borderless world of global trade is at the root of the now-classic metaphor that formulates transnationalism as "flows of people, ideas, laws and institutions across national boundaries" (Merry 2006b; Appadurai 1990). The idea of transnationalism as "flow" is now widely accepted across disciplines (see Darian-Smith 2013), but it imposes an unnecessary distinction between mobility across places and the recursive effects of transnationalism on domestic social and legal relations in places (see Aman and Greenhouse 2017: esp. pt. 3; see also Alter 2014; Putnam 2016).
Boaventura de Sousa Santos (1987) formulates the term interlegality as an alternative to the more jurisdictionally framed legal pluralism, to refer to the dynamic crosscurrents of legal institutions running concurrently. Valverde (2009) subsequently develops the concept of interlegality to contest the dominance of jurisdiction in the conventions of scale. Landscaping is messy—proliferating norms yield their own characteristic excesses and omissions (de Herdt and de Sardan 2015: 2). The number and variety of courts and the rulings they issue continue to grow and populate an ever more dense terrain of law (Alter 2014). Areas with overlapping institutions such as trade may experience both positive competition that spurs growth and fragmentation that undermines effectiveness (Davis 2017). Some of the chapters included here address dilemmas involving territorial jurisdiction between or across states (in particular, Basaran; Dezalay; Foblets and Alidadi; and Leheny); others deal with the social production of interlegalities only partially involving national states (Brewster; Brunnegger; Massoud; Rodríguez-de-las-Heras Ballell; Shaffer and Gao; and Valverde). One implication of this volume, overall, is that territoriality and jurisdiction, and the relations between them, are never neutral. The image of landscape in the book's title is a reference not just to land, but to its cultivation in relation to law as a living institution that ideally grows and adapts within its environmental constraints.
A second theme in the volume is the authors' attention to the diverse complexities of what Saskia Sassen ( 2008: 2) has called the charged processes of nationalization and denationalization in the context of globalization. Agreements to eliminate tariffs, trade, and other international or multinational arrangements originate as legal activity involving states (intergovernmental agreements, legislation, treaties, contracts, and so forth). States are key actors in all such arrangements, whether directly as drafters or signatories, or indirectly as agents of enforcement and protection of citizens' rights. Some institutions, such as the WTO, invoke the phrase "member-driven organization" and leave states in the role of gate-keepers for enforcement actions, while relying on information from societal groups (Davis 2012). Yet even for institutions such as the International Criminal Court that empower supranational actors and rights of the individual, the approach to legal norms within a state influences the prior decision of governments to accept the jurisdiction of the court, and state cooperation is necessary for the extradition and prosecution of criminals (Kelley 2007). Rather than focus on clearly delimited roles for the state and society, contributors to this volume highlight uncertain stakes and changing opportunities for actors to shape the form of transnational regulation and their own positions within the process.
In detailed qualitative accounts of trade, diplomacy, migration, and community building (key areas of modern transnationalism) this volume's authors show how nationalism can be integral to transnationalism. Their work casts a new light on current controversies to reveal ways in which globalization is held to account—whether in legal or administrative terms (Brewster; Foblets and Alidadi; Leheny; Massoud) or in terms of identifying its beneficiaries (Brunnegger; Dezalay; Rodríguez-de-las-Heras Ballell; Shaffer and Gao). The moral judgments implicit in populism are also relevant in this context. In Chapter 10, Valverde argues that contemporary notions of liberalism (in effect, conflating liberal subjectivity with individualism) are incomplete—neglecting the intellectual history that twinned the individual expression of liberalism to its collective form as philanthropy. Her reading of nationalist populist claims in the United States and Britain revisits that history, drawing its particular dialectic of imperialism and projects of moral improvement into the present.
Our objective in initiating the conference that inspired most of these chapters was to identify researchable problems in the interstices where legal and political anthropology, international political sociology, and international relations seemed due for productive exchange. This does not guarantee comprehensive coverage—on the contrary, we selectively sampled topics that arise in areas of overlap rather than those that may appear more central within a single discipline. Each of these fields offers abundant scholarship on issues directly related to those discussed in the separate chapters; however, as noted by Tugba Basaran and colleagues (2017), disciplinary silos remain strong, usually held apart by their conventions of scale (political science and sociology tending toward the large scale, anthropology and ethnographic sociology tending toward the small scale). We hope readers find the same intrigue we did in remixing these fields at the junctures where states, international institutions, communities, and individuals interrelate on the same scale. A common emphasis on ethnography (whether as research method or conceptual resource) creates unity across the studies and sustains the primary contribution of the volume, since ethnography—whatever its disciplinary home—insists that institutions and processes be seen first and foremost as human relations.
It was precisely to explore such possibilities that we gathered anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists, and lawyers for an exploratory conference about transnational law as a research topic and—equally important—as a source of ethnographic innovation. The conference set no constraints on what ethnography might be taken to mean, and, indeed, participants brought their own eclectic understandings and expectations to the discussion. In forming the present volume after the conference, we did not seek to adopt a unified theoretical or methodological approach; rather, we considered the diversity of perspectives valuable in itself as a basis for new insights into transnational law. "Thinking processually and relationally" (Basaran et al. 2017: 24) emerged from those conversations as an interconnecting thread across them. Most chapters in the present collection were first presented at the conference.
In addition to contributing insights with regard to transnational law and its social effects, our purpose is also to affirm the ethnography of transnational law as a fruitful inquiry (see, e.g., Alter and Meunier 2009: 18; Bearce and Hart 2017: 65, 67). We turn to ethnography—in the broadest possible sense of that term—for its particular suitability to the analysis of complex, overlapping, informal, and nonreplicable organizations and social situations. As Kim Scheppele (2004: 390) notes in a different context (discussing constitutional ethnography), ethnography "does not ask about the big correlations between the specifics of . . . design and the effectiveness of specific institutions but instead looks to the logics of particular contexts as a way of illuminating complex interrelationships among political, legal, historical, social, economic, and cultural elements" (see also Scheppele 2009). By opening the methodological doors widely, we improve our chances of discovering what ethnography may or must be to meet the analytical challenges of dynamic transnational landscapes of law such as those discussed here. Each author addresses methodological issues as an integral part of their discussion.
The chapters in this volume offer several paths for cross-reading in addition to the themes indicated above. Several key points emerge distinctly as a result of the multidisciplinary conversation that forms this volume, as well as from the diversity of the authors' efforts to identify fresh ethnographic openings in relation to transnational law.
The study of law helps locate and interpret the intersection of beliefs and strategies within transnational arenas of policy-making. As noted above, transnational (or global) institutions have assumed an increasingly large role as the subject of the ethnography of law. But less attention has been given to the "intersubjective frameworks of meaning" (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998: 887) involved in the weaving of transnational legal fabrics. Furthermore, these meanings are themselves up for challenge as the institutions evolve—in drafting the laws of world trade, the making and unmaking of the European Union in the context of the refugee crisis, and in the uneasy legacy of nineteenth-century philanthropy in the UK and the US, conceived as a modernist project aimed at the moral improvement of the Other (see, in this volume, respectively, Brewster; Brunnegger; Foblets and Alidadi; Leheny; Massoud; and Valverde).
The importance of culture has been widely noted in relation to issues of state and transnational legitimacy as "cultural infrastructures" that shape international cooperation (McNamara 2010: 154). This volume takes this as a departure point; it is not considered a given that culture in the transnational context will have some organic connection to actual localized practices (as would likely be inferred from the anthropological usage of the term). The expressions of national culture in the transnational scenarios discussed in this book are deliberate constructions, strategically built to meet the demands of particular situations—ranging from the politicization of territoriality to new institutions of dispute settlement and the "rule of law" in Colombia and the South Sudan and the investment in academic and industry-level organizational structures intended to support national and regional engagements in world trade (see the chapters by Basaran; Brunnegger; Dezalay; Massoud; and Shaffer and Gao). State actors may appropriate culture to serve their purposes in transnational law irrespective of whether its content has a basis in local legitimacy.
Scholars of transnationalism often use the metaphors of verticality and horizontality to refer to different combinations of state, substate, suprastate, and nonstate legal systems. Verticality presumes that the global is "above" the national; horizontality assumes parity, more or less, across such levels. The two-dimensional grid is inadequate to capture what Scheppele has called "the layering of governmental forms" (personal communication, August 30, 2016) and the myriad resources and engagements that distill such forms into recognition, and hold them together or apart. Brunnegger, Foblets and Alidadi, Rodríguez-de-las-Heras Ballell, and Shaffer and Gao focus on such processes in their analyses of how transnational law is unbundled and mixed with other technologies in the making or remaking of communities—in the creation of a customary court, Europe's failing asylum regime, the promise of Internet communities, and the mediatization of China's new WTO culture. These developments may then reverberate back on the state. As the use of courts for transnational activity is normalized, it changes how they are viewed as a mechanism of dispute resolution. In China, the use of litigation that was once outside of their cultural frame of reference has been elevated by the state as an important national assertion of influence on the international stage, which adds legitimacy to the process itself.
This volume also addresses the relationship between regime complexity and informality—a relationship well established in the scholarship on the structural dynamics of international organizations (see Alter and Meunier 2009: 13; Finnemore and Sikkink 1998; Helmke and Levitsky 2004: 725, 727). Several chapters highlight experiential dimensions of such dilemmas through illuminating both the critical junctures and the paths not taken. Each institution evolves through a complex interaction with other actors and resources that form an organizational ecology (see Abbott, Green, and Keohane 2016). As one institution emerges, it impinges on other institutions. The chapters by Brewster, Foblets and Alidadi, Rodríguez-de-las- Heras Ballell, and Shaffer and Gao address law-making in the WTO context, the instability of the European Union, current experiments in the development of digital communities, and projects of capacity-building in Chinese trade law.
A further aspect of the scholarship on transnationalism that this book addresses is the prominence of the logics of liberalism in the ways governance institutions are set up and scripted to operate (Acharya 2016: 453). Liberalism and the ironies of its contradictions in practice have been the foci of important studies in the anthropology of states and in theories about the emergence of order among states (see Gupta and Sharma 2006; Holsti 2004; Ikenberry 2001). In various ways, this book's contributors are writing from within the scholarship on transnationalism, even as they find critical distance in their own ways. The theoretical chapters by Basaran (on territory) and Valverde (on liberal subjectivity)—bookends to the volume—take up these elements of liberal logics explicitly, drawing into the same frame personal and political dilemmas of interpretive uncertainty.
Landscapes of Law opens multiple research agendas in relation to transnational law, and its main contribution is in the ways authors situate their purposes in relation to the human activity that constitutes transnational law—therefore, inevitably, resulting overall in a productive intersection of disciplines. The book responds to events, but much remains uncertain, and in any case, in rapidly changing circumstances, relevance requires imaginative work (Greenhouse 2011). The era of optimism for liberal government and global cooperation to uphold international law and free markets that began after the end of the Cold War arguably has come to an end. Yet, the new lines of conflict and alternative visions of order have also failed to coalesce into a clear set of norms and power relationships. Far from an end to globalization, we continue to see actors engaging in transnational space with new purposes. The chapters by Foblets and Alidadi, on the impact of the humanitarian crisis in Syria on Europe, and by Rodríguez-de-las-Heras Ballell, on the hopefulness of networked digital communities, point to two versions of transnationalism today: the uncontainable tragedy of war on the one hand, and the bright light of unexpected partnership on the other. Technology and identity politics play out in both experiences. These versions cascade in and out of each other, over-spilling law's purposes, changing the terrain as they run. Ultimately, such experiences will register as having formed something new, even if the values and structures of that terrain cannot be predicted or settled as something other than possibilities.
In these chapters, we find persistent patterns of states asserting their own position within global regulatory processes in their association of state sovereignty with national culture, as if this were its natural expression. Transnationalism can operate as a sphere above the state, or as one that lies between states, but this volume also reveals how it works through states when transnational law connects claims of national culture with demands for specific outcomes. Exploring transnational law's landscapes reveals how the terrain is designed and worked by those who inhabit it or travel across it—in the process, reacting to its constraints and changing its form.