Monday, February 4, 2019

de la Rasilla: The Problem of Periodization in the History of International Law

Ignacio de la Rasilla (Wuhan Univ. - Institute of International Law) has posted The Problem of Periodization in the History of International Law (Law and History Review, forthcoming). Here's an excerpt:
Every field of historical research has a well-established catalogue of standard historical periodizations relevant to its objects of study. The history of international law is no exception. . . . To illustrate the central if often overlooked role that periodization plays in the history of international law, this article proceeds in three parts. The first part critically discusses six approaches to periodization in the history of international law: the hegemonic, the Eurocentric universalist, the statecentric, the doctrinal, the institutional, and the normative. The second part studies how, in the wake of the recent “turn to history” in international legal scholarship, a new critical historiography has problematized the question of periodization because of the homogenizing effect and the “teleology of progress” to which periodization is interpreted as contributing. This part also shows that even despite a radical postmodern critique of periodization that distrusts “great meta-narratives,” alternative meta-narratives and ideological frameworks nonetheless structure other periodizations for contemporary historians of international law. The third part elaborates on the heuristic potential of a multiperspective approach to the question of periodization, and addresses the notion of “alternative periodization.” With examples from a new wave of literature on the history of international law, it illustrates its value as a launch pad for the “formation of new formerly unknown periods,” a task that can be considered “an essential part of historiographical innovation.”