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Models and Documents: Artefacts of International Legal Knowledge

Posted: 24 Mar 2000  

Annelise Riles

Cornell University - Law School

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This article draws upon one year of ethnographic research at United Nations conferences to challenge some common academic assumptions about what it means to "do" international law. The article compares the work of academic international lawyers ? founded in making models of an international system ? to the work of practitioners ? exemplified by the work of making documents, and demonstrates the particular, peculiar nature of each kind of knowledge, from the point of view of the observer. This leads to a set of conclusions concerning how an academic study of international law influenced by an appreciation of the particularity of its own aesthetics might be transformed to accommodate other understandings of what it means to practice international law.

Suggested Citation

Riles, Annelise, Models and Documents: Artefacts of International Legal Knowledge. International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 48, Pp. 805, October 1999. Available at SSRN:

Annelise Riles (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Law School ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

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