Friday, December 18, 2020

Quiroga-Villamarín on the Material Turn in the History of International Law

Gated, but very interesting: Beyond Texts? Towards a Material Turn in the Theory and History of International Law, by Daniel Ricardo Quiroga-Villamarín, in the Journal of the History of International Law, from a master’s thesis on Shipping Containers, Materiality, and Legal History:

While the history of international law has been mainly dominated by intellectual history, the neighboring humanities and social sciences have witnessed a ‘material turn.’ Influenced by the new materialisms, historians, sociologists, and anthropologists have highlighted the role of objects and nonhuman infrastructures in the making of the social. Law, however, has been conspicuously absent from these discussions. Only until recently, things began to be studied as instruments of – global – regulation. In this article, I trace an intellectual history of the intellectual history of international law, contextualizing it since its inception in the so-called ‘Cambridge School’ to its spread into the legal field via the Critical Legal Studies movement and its final import into international law in the last two decades. I conclude arguing that international legal historians can depart from the ‘well-worn paths’ of intellectual and conceptual history to engage with the materiality (past, present, and future) of global governance.
–Dan Ernst