‘Our Broken-Windows World’: New Poverty, Law and the Political Economy of Global Dis/Order

Event date
19 January 2023
Event time
15:00 - 16:30
Oxford week
HT 1
Wharton Room - All Souls College (and online)

Dr Luis Eslava, University of Kent

Notes & Changes

Please note that this event will be recorded, if you do not wish to be part of the recording, please feel free to turn your cameras off once the talk begins. The talk will be made available on the Criminology website and YouTube channel at a later date. 


Registration closes at midday on Wednesday 18th January. The Teams link will be sent to you that afternoon.

Poverty has taken on new and challenging features in the twenty-first century. While the level of ‘extreme’ poverty may have fallen, the number of those living just above the poverty-line has risen dramatically. Together, I argue, this ‘new poverty’ and the mechanisms deployed to alleviate it, are recalibrating what it means – and what it’s worth – to be alive for most of the world. In response to this tectonic change in the nature and management of poverty, moreover, an updated version of the notorious ‘broken-windows theory’ is also taking hold of global public policy. Centred on ‘smart’ community policing (e.g., surveillance technologies and heat-mapping exercises) and precision-guided developmental interventions, its invitation is to address only the most visible negative collateral consequences of this new condition of struggling permanently to make ends meet. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork undertaken over more than a decade in three urban sites in Colombia, and bringing together insights from anthropology, political economy and legal theory, this talk sets out a new critique of the underpinning assumptions of broken-windows theory when it goes global. 


Luis Eslava

Luis Eslava is Professor of International Law at Kent Law School, University of Kent, and Research Professor of International Law at La Trobe Law School, La Trobe University (start Sep. 2023). He also holds visiting positions at Melbourne Law School and Universidad Externado de Colombia, and he is a regular contributor to the Institute for Global Law and Policy (IGLP) Global Workshops, Harvard Law School. Bringing together insights from anthropology, history and legal and social theory, his work focuses on the multiple ways in which international norms, aspirations and institutional practices, both old and new, come to shape and become part of our everyday life. He is the author of Local Space, Global Life: The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development (2015), and co-editor of Bandung, Global History, and International Law: Critical Pasts, Pending Futures (2017) and the Oxford Handbook on International Law and Development (2023). His work has been recognised by several awards, including the 2016 SLSA Hart Socio-Legal Book Prize and the 2016 SLSA Prize for Early Career Academics. He currently directs the IEL Collective’s international socio-legal action research initiative Ruptures21, and coordinates the International Law and Politics Collaborative Research Network at the Law and Society Association.

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