Website of the European Society of International Law's Interest Group on the History of International Law.
ESIL Interest Group History of International Law
vrijdag 28 januari 2022
ARTICLE: John Fabian WITT, The View from the U.S. Leviathan: Histories of International Law in the Hegemon
Histories of international law more or less follow the epistemic position of the jurisdiction in which they arise. The parochial Anglophone student of the comparative literature in the history of international law instantly sees a version of this phenomenon in action. With notable exceptions, even sophisticated work in the history of international law in the U.S. is importantly different from English-language work in the same field that has begun to pour out from scholars based in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and elsewhere. In this chapter, I propose that this is because U.S. scholars since at least the Second World War have taken up the history of international law through a set of questions and presuppositions structured by a standpoint inside the leviathan. The most powerful player on the international stage – the United States – has exerted a gravitational pull on scholars writing the history of international law and on the functions that such histories serve. In recent years, however, the cross-border professionalization of the field is helping produce histories increasingly further afield from, or at least in a newly complex relationship to, the epistemic domination of the hegemon.