Walter Benjamin and the Messianic Promise of International Law

Law and Contemporary Theory Working Group
Fall Talks and Workshops

This talk will consider what Walter Benjamin’s thought on messianism might reveal about the relationship between international law and sovereignty. It will do so through an engagement with James Martel’s forthcoming book, The One and Only Law: Walter Benjamin and the Second Commandment. This talk forms part of a larger project which seeks to trace messianic and apocalyptic thinking in key stages of the development of modern sovereignty and international law. There will be no paper distributed in advance of Dr. Joyce’s talk.

A light lunch and refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to if you plan to attend the talk.


Richard Joyce is a faculty member at Monash University, Australia. His main research interests are in international law, development, and legal theory – with a focus on the concept of sovereignty. His theoretical work draws in particular on critical and post-structural theory. He received a BA/LLB(Hons) from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from the University of London (Birkbeck College). He is the author of Competing Sovereignties (2013) and the co-editor of Events: The Force of International Law (2011).