Beyond (and Before) the Transnational Turn

Recovering Civil Disobedience as Decolonizing Praxis

in Democratic Theory
Author:
Erin PinedaAssistant Professor, Smith College, USA epineda@smith.edu

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Can civil disobedience be transnationalized? This question presumes civil disobedience to be a fundamentally domestic concept—one constitutively tied to both the nation-state and the normative underpinnings of liberal, constitutional democracies. This article shows how this assumption mistakes one version of civil disobedience’s twentieth-century intellectual history for the whole of it, and risks reproducing binaries (domestic vs. international, democracies vs. non-democracies) that trouble attempts to theorize the transnational. Turning to an alternative intellectual history—a network of civil rights and anticolonial activists—reveals a novel theory of civil disobedience as decolonizing praxis, as well the stakes of these binaries: the disavowal of white supremacy as pervasive and durable global structure of governance, linking the domestic to the international, and democratic rule to domination.

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