Friday, June 13, 2014

Workshop: Theorising and Historicising International Law and the Environment

Today, June 13, 2014, the Keele Centre for Law, Ethics and Society will host a workshop on "Theorising and Historicising International Law and the Environment." Here's the idea:

The field of international environmental law is often described as one of the youngest, most dynamic and most progressive branches of international law. Unlike other disciplines like trade law or human rights law, which are perceived (by some) as tainted by ideology and by international law’s imperial past, international environmental law is portrayed as a technical, forward looking discipline that seeks to keep humanity’s excesses in check for the benefit of future generations. Given its epistemologically rich subject matter (what, after all, is more fundamental to the constitution of the world than the human relation to nature?) and the normative claims it makes for itself, this body of law has remained, however, surprisingly under-theorised. Little attention has been paid, for example, to the early history of international environmental law and the complex relationship between international law, colonialism and environmentalism.

Environmental historians have begun to study and theorise the largely overlooked connection between environmental attitudes and the colonial experience. International lawyers, however, have been slow to take notice of this rich body of research and the discipline of international environmental law remains largely uncritical and unaware of its early colonial origins. This workshop brings together scholars with a shared interest in legal history to critically and systematically engage with the pre-history of international environmental law and its relationship to empire.