Narrating Narratives of International Investment Law: History and Epistemic Forces

Rainer Hofmann, Christian Tams and Stephan W. Schill (eds), International Investment Law and History (Edward Elgar 2016)

23 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2015 Last revised: 14 Dec 2015

Date Written: September 21, 2015

Abstract

Telling the history of something requires choosing a perspective. This perspective, or narrative, is the lens through which we look at a specific topic or field. The picture that thereupon emerges is necessarily shaped by the perspective chosen. Strictly speaking, we cannot tell the ‘history of X’, only attempt to approach a historical account of one or several aspects of X by way of the perspective or perspectives we employ to look at X. Discussing, thus, the history of international investment law equally and inevitably requires choice of perspectives/narratives; and by choosing such narrative(s) the ‘narrator’ influences the audience’s grasp of the field whose ‘history’ he or she presents. In this contribution I will seek to illustrate how the investment community presents certain narratives of the history of international investment law, asserting – sometimes deliberately, sometimes inadvertently – their objectivity and thereby shaping certain perceptions of the history according to its view on the present and future of the field. Hence, my task is primarily to present, by way of examples, how certain epistemic communities (see II.) employ such narratives and thereby enhance investment law scholars’ and practitioners’ awareness vis-à-vis the constructive character of these narratives (III.). However, as I will further develop in the conclusion (IV.), this is not at all to say that the study of history and telling certain narratives is a futile exercise for international investment law to undertake. What is central, is making transparent the constructive nature of the narrative in order for the audience that is told this specific historical account to be aware that this is just one of many possible perspectives the authority of which hinges exclusively on its plausibility.

Keywords: international investment law; hermeneutics; legal history; historiography; law and linguistics

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Kulick, Andreas, Narrating Narratives of International Investment Law: History and Epistemic Forces (September 21, 2015). Rainer Hofmann, Christian Tams and Stephan W. Schill (eds), International Investment Law and History (Edward Elgar 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2696399

Andreas Kulick (Contact Author)

University of Tuebingen ( email )

Wilhelmstr. 19
72074 Tuebingen, Baden Wuerttemberg 72074
Germany

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