Shaimaa Abdelkarim ~ Nuances of Recognition in the League of Nations and United Nations: Examining Modern and Contemporary Identity Deformations in Egypt

(2021) 2 TWAIL Review 154-179
ISSN 2563-6693
Published under a Creative Commons licence

This article unpacks a link between practices of recognition in the League of Nations and those of the United Nations, which both declare a unified political will in formerly colonised societies. This article builds on Frantz Fanon’s analysis of the colonial encounter and Jacques Derrida’s diagnosis of the European crisis in the interwar period to examine the contemporary implications of affirming European exemplarity while reproducing self-racialising agencies in formerly colonised societies. I move between two political moments that recognise a unified Egyptian identity: first, the League of Nations’ reception of al-Wafd Party in the Party’s quest to assert Egyptian sovereignty against the British Empire; and second, the United Nations’ response to the Egyptian uprising in 2011 as a triumph of a popular will. I suggest a resemblance between the United Nations’ reception of the uprising and granting Egypt its membership to the League. In both moments, international recognition is contingent on maintaining a close affinity between a unified Egyptian identity and western exemplarity. Against that, I propose that the societal deformations in those two moments suggest that representing a unified political will has become an interminable source of social dissatisfaction and political repression.