American Journal of International Law Unbound
Race, indigeneity, and migration are integrally related in international law. This relationship can be traced to their origins in a legal system dedicated to facilitating European colonialism and imperial expansion. International law has constructed racial difference and deployed racialized hierarchies to determine who would be permitted to migrate to various parts of the world and what their rights and responsibilities would be in those locations, as well as the status of those already living in the territories at issue. Genealogical inquiry makes it clear that the imposition of racialized hierarchies, the construction of indigeneity, and the restrictions placed (or not placed) on migration in international law have been, and continue to be, functions of a colonial world order. This essay begins by acknowledging the colonial roots of contemporary migration patterns, considers how formal decolonization reified arbitrarily imposed states and state borders, and argues that genuine redress has been sidelined by framing colonial dispossession as poverty and underdevelopment. It concludes that, because the system remains structurally dependent upon racism, xenophobia, and the systematic erasure of indigeneity, remediation of these problems will require the genuine decolonization not only of subordinated peoples, but of international law itself.
Natsu Taylor Saito, Race, Indigeneity, and Migration, 117 Amer. J. Int'l L. Unbound 43 (2023).
Institutional Repository Citation
Natsu T. Saito,
Race, Indigeneity, and Migration,
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