Empire Des Nègres Blancs: The Hybridity of International Personality and the Abyssinia Crisis of 1935-36
Leiden Journal of International Law 24 (2011): 849–872
24 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2013
Date Written: January 1, 2011
The ‘Abyssinia Crisis’ of 1935-36 – in which one League of Nations member (imperial Ethiopia) was annexed by another (Fascist Italy) – presents one of the clearest twentieth-century illustrations of international law’s ‘progress narrative’. International lawyers are encouraged to draw a salutary lesson from the crisis: namely that Ethiopia’s sovereignty – and, indeed, the peace of the entire world – might have survived the 1930s if only international law had been properly enforced. Yet, the assumption upon which this lesson depends – to the effect that Ethiopia’s only discursive contribution to the crisis was passively to regurgitate the relevant clauses of the Covenant – is profoundly ideological. For this assumption effects a double suppression: erasing Ethiopia’s strategic construction of a hybrid, partially Abyssinian international law from the discipline’s memory; and concealing from scholarly view the possibility that Ethiopia’s annexation might have resulted from actions that were in accordance with, rather than in violation of, interwar international legal norms regarding sovereignty and the use of force.
Keywords: League of Nations, international personality, Ethiopia, hybridity, sovereignty, international law
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation