International Law in 1923: A Snapshot Workshop

Event exclusively opened to faculty members and doctoral students of the Law School

Project description

International lawyers have long discussed the hybrid foundations of their discipline, which transcends national thinking and institutions but cannot be understood in isolation from national legal traditions and biases. On-going debates about comparative approaches to international law or attempts to find out whether it is truly international in nature seem but the latest variation on this theme. The theme is potentially huge, inviting inquiries into conceptual frameworks, theoretical approaches to international law, historiography but also theories, sensitivities, methods, modes of argumentation, political projects, and values.

The aim of the workshop envisaged here is not to pursue these inquiries in depth, but to probe for answers by looking at a highly selective sample, viz: legal scholarship published in key outlets in a randomly selected year. By limiting the material, we hope to provide a snapshot that can illustrate how international lawyers struck the balance between the national and the international at a given moment in time, what drove them, how they perceived their discipline. This ‘snapshot approach’ is experimental and yet novel. In our view, it offers an innovative way to reflect upon timeless questions; and we are keen to try it out during a first ‘snapshot workshop’ at Sciences Po School of Law in Paris on 12 December 2018.

Our first sample year for this workshop is 1923. We will be looking at sample materials published in that year (RGDIP, BYIL, RdC etc). Our aim is to be guided by that material into a series of informal discussions about choices, sensibilities and foci of international legal debates held at the time. We are acutely aware that in preselecting sample materials published in traditional outlets, we may simply entrench biases that affected scholarship at the time. However, one has to start somewhere, and we can reflect on the implications of our choice – as well as methods for meaningfully engage with past scholarship – at the workshop.

As to intended outcomes, we are hoping for an informed and open small-group discussion which could be repeated over the years as we organize other snapshot seminars on different sample years. Please note that unlike many other academic events held these days, the workshop is not intended to yield any published output (That may come later…). Participants are not required to prepare and present written papers; but they are expected to prepare by reading the materials that will be distributed in advance and participate actively in the debate, incl. by preparing short, pointed interventions on topics within their area of expertise. Details on this will be discussed shortly.

Tentative programme

  • 09.00 – 9.15 Opening remarks
  • 09.15 – 10.15 The world in 1923
  • 10.15 – 11.15 The lawyers in 1923
  • 11.15 – 11.30 Coffee break
  • 11.30 – 13.00 The themes of scholarly studies in 1923
  • 13.00 – 14.00 Lunch break
  • 14.00 – 15.30 The sensibilities in 1923
  • 15.30 – 16.30 Concluding discussion: the significance of ‘snapshots’ in legal studies
  • 16.30 End of workshop

Confirmed participants

  • Christian Tams
  • Fuad Zarbiyev
  • Michelle Burgis-Kasthala
  • Akbar Rasulov
  • Gail Lythgoe
  • Alexandra Kemerer
  • Vincent Genin
  • Isil Aral
  • David Scott

Sample materials and documents

A few weeks before the workshop, we will circulate sample material published in 1923 (from the RGDIP, BYIL, RdC etc). It is of the utmost importance that participants read these materials.

Places are limited !
Please register you by writing an e-mail to

Event details
Wednesday, 12 December, 2018 - 09:00 - 16:30
Sciences Po Law School - Meeting room (410T)
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