Agora 7: International Law and History: The Return of the Past?

International law has developed a distinctively historical and historiographic turn in the last 15 years, rediscovering a historical approach to the study of international law and international lawyers which had largely faded from view since 1945. In part it has been revitalized by a renewed preoccupation with understanding the political and normative foundations of international law, its relationship with empire and colonialism, and as part of the search for clues about the origins of the present. But it has also been revitalized by the resurgence of intellectual history, postcolonial history and international history, which are reinvigorating the study of ‘classical’ figures in international political and legal thought, and trying to understand the origins of the political, social and economic foundations of the contemporary international legal order. Along with groundbreaking work in the history of international law in general, recent years have seen new studies in the history of the laws of war, renovations of the legal thought of classical figures such as Gentili and Vattel, and new histories of international institutions such as the League of Nations.
This agora will bring together intellectual historians, historians of law and historians of international thought to consider the ways in which new research into the history of international law is changing our understanding of past and present.


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