Thursday, January 18, 2018

Rasulov: The Concept of Utopianism in Contemporary International Law

Akbar Rasulov (Univ. of Glasgow - Law) has posted The Concept of Utopianism in Contemporary International Law (in Concepts for International Law, Jean d'Aspremont & Sahib Singh eds., forthcoming). Here's the abstract:

The concept of utopianism, however one looks at it, is not a technical legal concept. It is not a formal product of the everyday legal process and it certainly cannot be considered a legal term of art – the way, for instance, the concept of anticipatory self-defence can. Nor does it form an operative part of some other legal construct or doctrine – the way, for example, the idea of the common heritage of mankind does. And yet if one looks at the broader conceptual landscape surrounding the contemporary international legal discourse, it certainly seems to carry a very particular meaning in the eyes of what one might call the international legal profession lato sensu, a meaning which in many ways appears to be unique and without any discernible parallel in other comparable cultural arenas and discursive traditions. In this paper I propose to explore the internal phenomenology and the external theoretical structures surrounding this meaning.

What is that basic complex of ideas, tropes, assumptions, and discursive devices by means of which the phenomenon of utopianism is constructed, encoded, and represented in the contemporary international legal culture? What is the cultural logic behind the traditional anti-utopianist reflex within the broader disciplinary field of international law? Why do international lawyers tend to resent utopianism? How do they rationalise the logic of this resentment and what can this tell us about the broader power dynamics underlying the anti-utopianist discourse?