Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kemmerer: Towards a Global History of International Law? Editor's Note to a Review Symposium

Alexandra Kemmerer (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin) has posted Towards a Global History of International Law? A Review Symposium on Bardo Faßbender, Anne Peters (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law (2012), Editor's Note (European Journal of International Law, forthcoming). Here's the abstract:

In the fall of 2012, Oxford University Press announced the publication of ‘The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law,’ edited by Bardo Faßbender and Anne Peters. Not only was there the promise that the volume would provide ‘an authoritative and original overview of the origins, concepts, and core issues of international law’, the publisher also stressed the editors’ ‘global and interdisciplinary approach’.

Five authors were invited to submit their reflections on the pathbreaking volume. Three of them are international lawyers, one also a scholar of Islamic law, and two are historians with particular expertise on Russia and Egypt, respectively. In their work, they employ methods and tools from anthropology, sociology, political science – and yet the focus lies still with law and history. All contributions address the editors’ explicit intention to ‘overcome Eurocentrism’ – and all of them are rather skeptical about that claim not being merely a symbolic gesture, with strong traces of Eurocentrism still prevalent in the book. Their critical assessments are, however, not repetitive. Each contribution responds to the challenges of material and epistemic Eurocentrism from a distinct position and perspective, shaped by the author’s disciplinary background and regional expertise. The contributors share an explicit and reflexive positionality and situatedness that might be a necessary starting point for any future endeavor to research and write global histories of international law.