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This chapter concerns the translation of the rule of law by and through intermediaries. The intermediaries change and distort the messages from their global employers and funders in order to make them palatable to local and national actors – and also to build their own local career trajectories. The chapter highlights the main translation challenges that rule of law practitioners experience and presents intermediaries’ insider perspectives on how they translate rule of law. By analysing the strategies that intermediaries use, the chapter concludes that intermediaries become influential in their role as translators. While Myanmar’s political history and reality have produced a semi-authoritarian form of rule of law, associations with formal aspects of the concept were initially enhanced by foreign promoters who brought in their versions of a concept they deemed modelled on international standards that were universal and non-negotiable.
The final chapter summarises the findings on the importance of understanding the role of intermediaries in rule of law assistance. As Myanmar struggled for foreign credibility and investment, the findings are also consistent with the global version – foreign actors’ influence and local dependence in societies where donors become an established but delicate feature of social, political, and economic life that people encounter on a daily basis. In this new landscape, intermediaries become responsible for navigating local and national institutions, values, and people. This book keeps both sides in view while focusing on the intermediaries. It also considers the extent to which the findings could be generalised beyond Myanmar and their practical implications for helping to advance enquiry into the field of rule of law assistance globally.
I had travelled to Hpa-an, the capital of Myanmar’s eastern Karen state, for a chance to meet with a local lawyer who worked for several of the foreign-funded initiatives of rule of law assistance – defined here as foreign actors’ transnational ‘project’ of supporting legal systems in fragile settings – that were initiated in the country after its political opening in 2011. While usually based in Yangon, the lawyer was in Hpa-an for one of his regular training sessions with local activists and lawyers. On my way to our meeting, I walked through the pitch-black streets of the small town in a country I still did not know much about to meet a person whom I imagined would have little patience with a foreign researcher asking questions about his work. As I walked into the tiny shed of a restaurant where we were meeting, I saw Zaw Win Thein’s dazzling smile, and I felt a sense of instant relief. His personality was inviting and friendly.
Scholars puzzle over the conditions that make rule of law development in authoritarian settings successful. In this significant contribution, focusing on the decade of Myanmar's political transformation, Kristina Simion explores rule of law assistance through the practice and experience of intermediaries, their capital, strategies and challenges. How do intermediaries influence the field, and the ways in which the rule of law is brokered transnationally? And why do they matter? Simion relates her research to law and sociology to bring to light these neglected players, focusing on who they are, the influence they have, their double agency and their crucial importance in establishing trust and translating rule of law. Relying on rich empirical data collected in Myanmar, the book shares the voices of the individuals that help to steer societal change within authoritarian confines. This socio-legal work offers some insights into why rule of law change in authoritarian settings often does not go expected ways, one of the development field's long unresolved issues.
Due to persistent cultural contestation of rights, Chapter 2 elaborates upon the history and relationship between culture and human rights. It sketches the development of international human rights law from the 1940s to date, detailing the debates in that period regarding universality and cultural relativism. The chapter concludes that the debate is less dichotomous now, forging a middle path that acknowledges (to an extent) the importance of culture and its (not unlimited) accommodation in human rights. One mechanism by which human rights can accommodate cultural diversity is via domestic implementation. Therefore, Chapter 2 includes a detailed analysis of literature on culturally sensitive approaches to human rights implementation, which advocate embedding rights in local social institutions to secure their acceptance, protection and enjoyment. Chapter 2 argues that such approaches are crucial as they demonstrate principled respect for cultural diversity, as well as promoting the efficacy of implementation measures.
Having articulated numerous human rights norms and standards in international treaties, the pressing challenge today is their realisation in States' parties around the world. Domestic implementation has proven a difficult task for national authorities as well as international supervisory bodies. This book examines the traditional State-centric and legalistic approach to implementation, critiquing its limited efficacy in practice and failure to connect with local cultures. The book therefore explores the permissibility of other measures of implementation, and advocates more culturally sensitive approaches involving social institutions. Through an interdisciplinary case study of Islam in Indonesia, the book demonstrates the power of social institutions like religion to promote rights compliant positions and behaviours. Like the preamble of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the book reiterates the role not just of the State but indeed 'every organ of society' in realising rights.
The introduction discusses the interrelated notions of translation and reception and introduces the main topic of the book: namely, the ways in which vernacular readers appropriated the legacy of Aristotle in Italy between 1250 and 1500. Given the deep-rooted and widespread presence of Aristotle in medieval and Renaissance culture, the vernacular reception of the philosopher’s works offers a productive lens through which to reconsider the proactive role of translation in the construction and refinement of communicative tools able to disseminate the philosophical tradition among wider communities of readers. As such, the introduction reflects on the cultural implications of the theory and practice of vernacular translation in the period, arguing that its function is better understood when considered as part of a wide-ranging reception process involving not only the translators, but also their readers, who, in various ways, contribute actively to the process itself.
This chapter considers the emergence of one of the main vehicles for the diffusion of new ideas of religiosity, literary Turkish. In contrast to previous studies which have claimed the emergence of Turkish as an expression of a proto-nationalism, this chapter argues that the emergence of Turkish must be seen against the twin background of the interest of Sufis, especially Jalal al-Din Rumi and his circle, in multi-lingual communication, and the new political circumstances thrown up by the Mongol invasions. Turkish is initially only used extensively for literary works in new cultural centres emerging in his period – the Mongol garrison town of Kırşehir, and the Turkmen principalities of the coastal peripheries. In the old Seljuq urban centres of Anatolia, Konya, Kayseri, Sivas, Persian remains the dominant if not the only form of literary language into the fifteenth century. Turkish thus seems to be a medium not just to communicate with an audience unversed in Persian, but an expression of political and religious aspirations.