ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

ESIL Interest Group History of International Law

maandag 14 december 2020

BOOK: Ntina TZOUVALA, Capitalism As Civilisation - A History of International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020). ISBN 9781108497183, USD 110.00


(Source: CUP)

Cambridge University Press is publishing “Capitalism As Civilisation - A History of International Law”.


Methodologically and theoretically innovative, this monograph draws from Marxism and deconstruction bringing together the textual and the material in our understanding of international law. Approaching 'civilisation' as an argumentative pattern related to the distribution of rights and duties amongst different communities, Tzouvala illustrates both its contradictory nature and its pro-capitalist bias. 'Civilisation' is shown to oscillate between two poles. On the one hand, a pervasive 'logic of improvement' anchors legal equality to demands that non-Western polities undertake extensive domestic reforms and embrace capitalist modernity. On the other, an insistent 'logic of improvement' constantly postpones and engages such a prospect based on ideas of immutable difference. By detailing the tension and synergies between these two logics, Tzouvala argues that international law incorporates and attempts to mediate the contradictions of capitalism as a global system of production and exchange that both homogenises and stratifies societies, populations and space.


Ntina Tzouvala, University of Melbourne

Ntina Tzouvala is an ARC Laureate Postdoctoral Fellow at Melbourne Law School. Her research focuses on the political economy, the history, and the theory of international law.


1. The standard of civilisation in international law: politics, theory, method
2. The standard of civilisation in the nineteenth century: between the 'logic of improvement' and the 'logic of biology'
3. The institutionalisation of civilisation in the interwar period
4. Arguing with borrowed concepts: 'The sacred trust of civilisation' in the South West Africa Saga
5. From Iraq to Syria: legal arguments for the civilising missions of the twenty-first century
6. Thinking through contradictions on a warming planet.

More info here

(source: ESCLH Blog)