Kevin Crow, Bandung’s Fate, in Ingo Venzke and Kevin Jon Heller (eds.), Situating Contingency in International Law (forthcoming, Oxford 2020).
Kevin Crow | ASB Faculty | Research Paper
Discipline: International Law
Without diminishing Bandung’s importance to present day understandings of international law, this Chapter argues that its anticlimactic impact was almost inevitable. The Chapter refers to this phenomenon as Bandung’s ‘fate’: a narrow understanding of Bandung’s legal utility in its immediate present that was in many ways preordained.
The Chapter draws this understanding primarily from contemporaneous reports from Indonesia’s National Archives in Jakarta that detail perceptions of Bandung from the ‘First World’; the Chapter contrasts these with reports that detail perceptions from the ‘Third World’. To the nations that controlled international law, Bandung served preordained purposes that undermined its immediate impact. But recent scholarship revisiting and revising the story of Bandung, along with renewed interest in what the failure of the NIEO can teach us in the present, indicates that the Conference created a ‘normative surplus’ – an unveiling of acceptable norms at a particular point uncodified in law. In specifying elements of Bandung’s ‘normative surplus’ that could be revived, this Chapter recasts Bandung not as a story of possibilities lost but a catalyst to imagine new possibilities for the present.