Moving Beyond Interdisciplinary Turf Wars: Towards an Understanding of International Law as Practice
Jean d’Aspremont, Tarcisio Gazzini, André Nollkaemper & Wouter Werner (eds), International Law as a Profession (Cambridge University Press, Forthcoming)
Amsterdam Center for International Law No. 2015-11
20 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2015
Date Written: June 17, 2015
International lawyers have looked at the study of their object by international relations scholars above all with suspicion. Whereas they have warmly welcomed the increasing recognition of international law’s power also in political sciences, some of them have turned wary about the ways in which international law is (mis-)treated in the move to interdisciplinarity. Their anxieties pertain to the fate of both international law as an object of study and, by implication, the future of the discipline of international law. We submit that these anxieties overall boil down to concerns about the autonomy of international law, both as a domain of international or world society and as an academic discipline.
While this argument is in itself not unheard of, we submit more specifically that international lawyers’ responses have been largely counterproductive, threatening to undo some of the insights gained into the politics of international law. Our contribution first takes a step back from present day anxieties to contextualize them against the background of attempts to establish international law and international relations as scientific disciplines (II). A quest for scientific inquiry has similarly informed international relations scholarship, yet these parallel missions paradoxically feed present anxieties about interdisciplinarity. We will support this argument with a brief genealogy of the mainstream interdisciplinary agenda as it has evolved over the past two or three decades (III). In a third and final step, we will sketch our view of international law as practice. We point to the promise of asking what makes for a valid legal argument by investigating these standards as the medium and outcome of practice itself. We finally highlight its purchase for moving past anxieties of interdisciplinarity towards a productive study of the politics of international law (IV).
Keywords: interdisciplinarity, international law and international relations, practice theory, autonomy of international law, politics of international law
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation