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Sabaratnam, Meera and Laffey, Mark (2023) 'Complex indebtedness: justice and the crisis of liberal order.' International Affairs, 99 (1). pp. 161-180.

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A prominent feature of the contemporary crisis of the liberal international order is diverse calls for justice, including epistemic and historic justice. For a long time, that order understood itself in liberal terms and as capable of delivering justice accordingly. Asking a second-order question, about how questions of justice are framed in the international order, leads us to the conclusion that the liberal order's account of the connections that make the system hang together is partial, if not deeply flawed. Building on long-established and more recent traditions of scholarship aligned with the global South, we introduce a different account of international order and its core dynamics: complex indebtedness. Such an account enables not only a better appreciation of the justice claims currently being made in and against the liberal international order, it also more plausibly explains their origins, interconnections, and multiscalar and polymorphic character. By facing squarely the political parameters of indebtedness, we can make better sense of how to approach claims for justice in the present and future. The argument is illustrated with the examples of struggles for racial justice, white nationalism and South–South co-operation.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISSN: 00205850
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2023 13:53
Funders: Leverhulme Trust

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