Title

A History of International Law in the Vernacular

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2020

Abstract

Histories of international law have typically focused on the origins of legal rules and doctrines, the decisions of courts and other formal tribunals, the views of professors and legal theorists and diplomats, and the evolution of the legal profession. That is, international legal histories have centered on the concerns of lawyers and states and have reflected a positivist vision of international lawmaking. We need a history of international law that focuses more on international law in action – the invocation, elaboration, and contestation of rules in and through their everyday application, not just by states, high-level state actors, legal theorists, and state-organized domestic and international institutions, but also by individuals, low-level officials, private groups, and nongovernmental actors and in places outside of the usual fora where ‘international law’ is said to be found. We need a history of international law in the vernacular.

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