International Law, Theory and History: Ordering Through Distinctions
Introduction to Jean d'Aspremont (ed.), The History and Theory of International Law (Edward Elgar), volume I and volume II, 2020
27 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2020
Date Written: March 10, 2020
A wide variety of mechanisms can potentially be used to order discourses. Distinctions are one of them. Indeed, distinctions are not only common modes of thinking. They are also powerful modes of ordering. Distinctions’ ordering does not solely boil down to a repression that demotes impermissible thoughts to the realm of the impossible, the metaphysical, or the magic. Distinctions also organize the critique of the order they put in place. This paper, which constitutes the introduction to two major resources volumes, focuses on two key distinctions at work in international legal thought and practice, namely the inter-disciplinary distinction between international law and history, as well as the intra-disciplinary distinction between theory and practice. This paper questions these distinctions in their own terms and seeks to project an alternative image to that shaped by the dominant inter-disciplinary and intra-disciplinary orders of international law. The alternative image promoted here is one of an international lawyer who, whether she is a judge, a counsel, an academic, or an activist, constantly theorizes and historicizes. According to such an image, theorizing and historicizing constitute the core business of international lawyers in the many capacities with which they intervene in the problems of the world.
Keywords: International Law, International Legal Theory, History of International Law, Theory and Practice, Modern Legal Thought, Structuralism, Post-Structuralism
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