This contribution reflects on the role of tradition-building in international law, the implications of the recent ‘turn to history’ and the ‘presentisms’ discernible in the history of international legal thought. It first analyses how international legal thought created its own tradition in the 19th and 20th centuries. These projects of establishing a tradition implied a considerable amount of what historians would reject as ‘presentism’. Remarkably, critical scholars of our day and age who unsettled celebratory histories of international law and unveiled ‘colonial origins’ of international law, were also criticized for committing the ‘sin of anachronism’. The contribution therefore examines the basis of this critique and defends ‘presentism’ in international legal thought. However, the ‘paradox of instrumentalism’ remains that the ‘better’ historical analysis becomes, the more it loses its critical potential for current international law. At best, the turn to history activates a potential of disciplinary self-reflection.
Monday, March 27, 2017
Kleinlein: International Legal Thought: Creation of a Tradition and the Potential of Disciplinary Self-Reflection
Thomas Kleinlein (Goethe Universität Frankfurt – Law) has posted International Legal Thought: Creation of a Tradition and the Potential of Disciplinary Self-Reflection (Global Community Yearbook of International Law and Jurisprudence, forthcoming). Here's the abstract: