Kent Law School

Critical perspectives research led teaching


Luis works in the areas of International Law, International Legal Theory and History, Anthropology of International Law, Global Governance, Public Law, Law and Development, and Urban Law and Politics.

His research focuses on the relationship between international and domestic legal orders, and the effects of this relationship both on our jurisprudential understanding of these areas of law, and on the constitution of everyday life in today’s global order.

In order to explore the operation of international norms and discourses on the ground, Luis’s work combines doctrinal, theoretical and historical analysis with extensive ethnographic fieldwork in community and institutional settings.

In recent years, Luis has been particularly interested in the increasing role of local jurisdictions (e.g. cities and municipalities) in the international arena. His work in this area interrogates the rationale and contradictions that have accompanied this trend, using different locations in the Global South as case studies. Key fieldwork sites for his recent research in this area include Bogotá, Cali, Rio de Janeiro and Istanbul.

Other areas of research which have informed his work over the last few years include: the long-standing relation between imperialism and international law; the ‘new constitutionalism’ in the Global South; international economic law and institutions; postcolonial and Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL); the changing dynamics of occupation law and humanitarian intervention; contemporary practices in the Law & Development field (including Corporate Social Responsibility), and new approaches to urban law.

As a whole, his publications seek to understand how past and present international normative discourses and technologies of governance have come to shape both the world around us and our political responses to it by experimenting with different methodologies, archives and case studies.

His recent book Local Space, Global Life: The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development was published by Cambridge University Press in 2015. The book was awarded the Hart Socio-Legal Book Prize and the Prize for Early Career Academics by the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) in 2016. The initial research for this book was also awarded the Harold Luntz Prize for the best PhD thesis completed in 2013 at Melbourne Law School and The University of Melbourne's 2014 Chancellor's Prize for Excellence. To know more about Local Space, Global Life, you can watch the following book introduction and the following interview.

Luis is also the co-editor of Imperialismo y Derecho Internacional published by Siglo del Hombre, with Liliana Obregón and René Urueña, and the global collaborative volume Bandung, Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures, with Michael Fakhri and Vasuki Nesiah, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press.

Luis supervises and benefits enormously from a group of wonderful graduate researchers at Kent Law School and other institutions, all of them doing research on the past, present and possible futures of the global order, including radical re-readings of international law from the perspective of Indigenous peoples (Paulo Ilich Bacca); state-based resistance in the international legal order using the Non-Aligned Movement as a case study (Mateja Koltaj); the operation and challenges posed by international discourses around waste, waste collection and development in the South today (Allison Lindner); the intricacies of ‘virtual water’ use, trade and management for our conceptualization of power and international law (Mia Tamarin); the widespread effects of (neo)extractivist practices on traditional conceptualizations of the state and law (Jimena Sierra); the emergence of neo-punitive discourses and practices in the Global South (Silvana Tapia); the challenges posed by novel forms of counter-terrorist practices to traditional conceptualizations of international law (Ahmed Memon); and the central role of the idea of ‘effective control’ for our understanding of the evolution and operation of the international legal order (Eric Loefflad).

Luis is also a Senior Fellow at Melbourne Law School, an International Professor at Universidad Externado de Colombia, and Faculty at Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law and Policy.

To read more about Luis' research, you can visit his Beyond KLS page.

Photograph courtesy of Anthony RodriguezBlacknote Photography.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Eslava, L., Pahuja, S. and Buchanan, R. (2017). International Development. Abingdon, Oxford: Routledge.
Eslava, L., Obregón, L. and Urueña, R. (2016). Imperialismo y Derecho Internacional. Bogotá, Colombia: Librería Siglo del Hombre La Candelaria.
Eslava, L. (2015). Local Space, Global Life : The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Eslava, L. (2018). The Moving Location of Empire: Indirect Rule, International Law, and the Bantu Educational Kinema Experiment. Leiden Journal of International Law [Online] 31:539-567. Available at:
Eslava, L. (2018). Retratos de Estanbul: Observando la Operación Cotidiana del Derecho Internacional y el Desarrollo' Revista Latinoamerica de Derecho Internacional. Latin American Review of International Law [Online]. Available at:
Eslava, L. (2017). The materiality of international law: violence, history and Joe Sacco's The Great War. London Review of International Law [Online] 5:49-86. Available at:
Eslava, L. (2016). El Arte: Entre lo Doméstico y lo Internacional. Conversatorios de Arte y Derechos Humanos – Boletín No. 2:11-20.
Eslava, L. (2014). Istanbul Vignettes: Observing the Everyday Operation of International Law. London Review of International Law [Online] 2:3-47. Available at:
Dias, M. and Eslava, L. (2013). Horizons of Inclusion: Life between Laws and Developments in Rio De Janeiro. University of Miami Inter-American Law Review [Online] 44:177-218. Available at:
Eslava, L. and Pahuja, S. (2012). Beyond the (Post)Colonial: TWAIL and the Everyday Life of International Law. Journal of Law and Politics in Africa, Asia and Latin America - Verfassung und Recht in Übersee (VRÜ) 45:195-221.
Eslava, L. and Pahuja, S. (2011). Between Resistance and Reform: TWAIL and the Universality of International Law. Trade, Law and Development 3:103-130.
Barr, O., Eslava, L. and Otomo, Y. (2009). In Search of Authority, Rebellion and Action. Sortuz: Journal of Emergent Socio-Legal Studies [Online] 3:1-13. Available at:
Eslava, L. (2009). Decentralization of Development and Nation-Building Today: Reconstructing Colombia from the Margins of Bogotá. The Law and Development Review 2.
Eslava, L. (2009). Constitutionalization of Rights in Colombia: Establishing a Ground for Meaningful Comparisons. Revista Derecho del Estado 22:183-229.
Eslava, L. (2008). Corporate Social Responsibility & Development: A Knot of Disempowerment. Sortuz: Oñati Journal of Emergent Socio-Legal Studies 2:43-71.
Eslava, L. (2007). Occupation Law: (Mis)Use and Consequences in Iraq. Contexto 21:79-114.
Eslava, L. (2003). Las Decisiones del Hombre Frente a la Escasez (Scarcity and Human Decisions). Derecho y Vida - Ius et Vita:21.
Eslava, L. (2002). The Method of Law and Economics: A Framework to Study the Scarcity, the Traffic and the Market of Human Organs (in Spanish). Revista Contexto 15:8-57.
Eslava, L. (2002). A Review of the Controversy between the Andean Community General Secretariat and Venezuela about Transport'. Contexto 14:41-50.
Book section
Eslava, L. (2018). Dense Struggle: On Ghosts, Law and the Global Order. in: Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, A. ed. Routledge Research Handbook on Law & Theory. Routledge, pp. 15-48.
Eslava, L. (2017). The Spirit of Bandung. in: Eslava, L., Nesiah, V. and Fakhri, M. eds. Bandung, Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures. Cambridge University Press, pp. 3-32.
Eslava, L. (2016). Imperialismo(s) y Derecho(s) Internacional(es): Ayer y Hoy. in: Eslava, L., Obregon, L. and Urena, R. eds. Imperialism and International Law: History and Legacy (In Spanish: Imperialismo y Derecho Internacional: Historia y Legado). Siglo del Hombre Editores, pp. 11-94.
Eslava, L. (2012). Urban Law in a Global World (in Spanish: El Derecho Urbano en un Mundo Globalizado). in: Rengifo, M. and Pinilla, J. F. eds. La Ciudad y el Derecho Urbano: Una Introducción al Derecho Urbano Contemporáneo. Bogotá: Los Andes & Temis.
Garcia-Salmones, M. and Eslava, L. (2010). Jurisdictional Colonisation in the Spanish and British Empires: Some Reflections on a Global Public Order and the Sacred. in: Ruiz Fabri, H., Wolfrum, R. and Gogolin, J. eds. Select Proceedings of the European Society of International Law. Hart Publishing, pp. 53-81.
Eslava, L. (2003). The Method of Law and Economics: A Framework to Study the Scarcity, the Traffic and the Market of Human Organs. in: Colección Enrique Low Murtra, Tomo IV. Bogotá: Universidad Externado de Colombia, pp. 173-265.
Edited book
Eslava, L., Fakhri, M. and Nesiah, V. eds. (2017). Bandung, Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts and Pending Futures. [Online]. Cambridge University Press. Available at:
Eslava, L., Obregon, L. and Urena, R. (2016). Imperialism and International Law: History and Legacy (In Spanish: Imperialismo y Derecho Internacional: Historia y Legado). [Online]. Eslava, L., Obregón, L. and Ureña, R. eds. Siglo del Hombre Editores. Available at:
Eslava, L., Natarajan, U. and Parfitt, R. (2012). (Post)Revolutionary Interlinkages: Labour, Environment and Accumulation. Transnational Legal Theory [Online] 4:108-125. Available at:
Eslava, L. (2007). Book Review (Developing Power: How Women Transformed International Development) Fraser, A. S. and Tinker, I. eds. Feminist Legal Studies [Online] 15:255-257. Available at:
Internet publication
Eslava, L. and Pahuja, S. (2017). A World of "Sound" and "Clash": An Interview with Taru Dalmia [Critical Legal thinking - blog]. Available at:
Eslava, L. (2016). Colombia: Counter/Revolution in Present Tense [Republication, English and Arabic - blog]. Available at:
Eslava, L. (2016). Colombia: Counter/Revolution in Present Tense [Critical Legal Thinking - Blog]. Available at:
Eslava, L. (2016). Colombia: The Rubble of history and the Future to Come [Critical Legal Thinking - Blog]. Available at:
Eslava, L. (2014). Dense Struggle (I): Violence and the otherworldly [Online blog]. Available at:
Chiam, M. et al. (2014). Interruption: Five Artefacts of International Law [Blog Post]. Available at:
Edited journal
Eslava, L., Obregon, L. and Koskenniemi, M. eds. (2018). Imperial Locations and International Law. Leiden Journal of International Law 31.
Chiam, M. et al. eds. (2017). History, Anthropology and the Archive of International Law. London Review of International Law 5.
Eslava, L. and Buchely, L. (2019). Security and Development'in Question: A Story about Petty Crime, the Petty State and Petty Law. Estudios Sociales.
Eslava, L. and Pahuja, S. (2018). The Nation-State and International Law: A Reading from the Global South. Humanity journal.
Total publications in KAR: 39 [See all in KAR]
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  • Foundations of Property (LW316)
  • Law and International Development (LW616)

Postgraduate modules

  • Public International Law (LW814)
  • International Human Rights Law (LW843)


Luis is happy to supervise research projects on:

  • International Law
  • Critical Approaches to International Law
  • Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL)
  • International Legal History and Theory
  • Law and Development
  • Anthropology of (International) Law
  • Legal Ethnography
  • Global Governance and Global Political Economy
  • Urban Law and Urban Politics
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Projects and Collaborations

Luis is currently working on the following projects:

The 60th Anniversary of Bandung - together with Vasuki Nesiah (NYU) and Michel Fakhri (Oregon), Luis is co-editing a collection of essays and coordinating a series of international workshops to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the first Afro-Asian Conference, held in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955. The project brings together a large group of international legal scholars from across the world to reflect on the Conference and its long-lasting impact. The co-edited collection of essays will be published in 2017 by Cambridge University Press. 

International Development - together with Sundhya Pahuja (Melbourne Law School) and Ruth Buchanan (Osgoode), Luis is co-authoring a book on international development, to be published as part of the Routledge-Cavendish Critical Approaches to Law series.

Inclusionary Practices Project – as part of an international collaboration lead by Kent Law School, Luis is working with Lina Fernanda Buchely Ibarra (ICESI, Cali, Colombia) on a join project that examines new discourses and practices around the management of petty crime and criminalsin the Global South. The first outcome of this project is a paper entitled Between Inclusion and Marginalization: “Public Attention”, Neo-punitive Practices and Petty criminals in the Global. South.  

History, Anthropology and the Archive of International Law (The HAAIL Project) – together with Madelaine Chiam (Melbourne), Genevieve Painter (McGill), Rose Parfitt (Kent) and Charlotte Peevers (UTS), Luis is engaged in a long collaborative project that examines the analytical and methodological implications of bringing together the fields of history and anthropology for the critical study of international law. The first outcome of this collaboration is a Special Issue on the First World War in the London Review of International Law. For more information on The HAAIL Project, you can read this intervention in Critical Legal Thinking.

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Other Academic Activities

Other positions at Kent Law School

Additional Academic Positions

  • Senior Fellow, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne
  • International Professor, Universidad Externado de Colombia
  • Faculty, Institute for Global Law and Policy, Harvard Law School

Additional Academic Activities

Professional Societies

  • European Society of International Law
  • Law and Society Association 
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Last Updated: 30/07/2018