Turntablism in the History of International Law
20 Journal of History of the International Law (2020) (Forthcoming)
25 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 11, 2020
This article uses the metaphor of turntablism to shed light on how international lawyers’ engagement with history has remained confined to the same terms, vocabularies, and categories of the very historical narratives they seek to evaluate, disrupt, or displace. In this article, turntablism is understood as the art of creating new music and sound effects by using one or several turntables on which a record is placed. This article argues that twenty-first century international lawyers engaging with the history of international law are talented turntablists. The many historiographical works produced by such lawyers, since the so-called ‘historical turn’, have remained confined to the very terms, categories, and vocabularies of the histories whose creation they discuss and theorise. This article ultimately shows that turntablism is not the inevitable fate of international lawyers engaging with history, and that a radical historical critique is possible and should be promoted.
Keywords: History of International Law, Critical History, Radical Critique, Hayden White, Turntablism, TWAIL
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