Rhetoric of Legal Theory
164 | CCN: 77944
Instructor: Samera Esmeir
Date / Time: TuTh 930-11A, 215 DWINELLE
Conventional wisdom has it that international law is a tool of resistance against various forms of colonialism, occupation, and imperial expansion. In our present times, it has become common, even in European and North American countries, to resort to international law in the struggle against the ills of our world. But is there another history of international law in which it emerges less as a refuge from power and more as a site productive of particular power operations? To answer this question, this course focuses specifically on the place of colonization and decolonization in international law. We begin with writings from the law of nations tradition, which preceded international law, and inquire into the extent to which the law of nations was constitutive of early modern colonization and imperialism. Under investigations will be such jurists as Gentili, Vitoria and Grotius. Next, we examine international law writings from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and probe the place of colonization in the transition from the law of nations (natural law theory) to international law (positive law). We conclude with international legal responses to decolonization and anti-colonial struggles in an attempt to critically assess the emancipatory framing of international law.
Most of the readings will be posted on Bcourses. For the most part, they will consist in theoretical and philosophical legal texts. In addition, the following books are available for purchase from the bookstore.
Balakrishnan Rajagopal, International Law from Below: Development, Social Movement and Third World Resistance
Anthony Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law
Maitrii Aung Thwin, The Return of the Galon King: History, Law and Rebellion in Colonial Burma