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Theory Talks Archive

21 November - 15.30-17.30

Pierfrancesco Rossi

National Courts: Guardians of the International Rule of Law?

Mandatory readings:

  • Benedetto Conforti, International Law and the Role of Domestic Legal Systems (Nijhoff 1993) 3-10.
  • André Nollkaemper, National Courts and the International Rule of Law (OUP 2011) 1-10.
  • Eyal Benvenisti, ‘Comments on the Systemic Vision of National Courts as part of an International Rule of Law’ (2012) 4 Jerusalem Review of Legal Studies 42, 42-49.
  • Joseph G. Starke, ‘Monism and Dualism in the Theory of International Law’ (1936) 17 British Yearbook of International Law 66, 66-75.
  • Giorgio Gaja, ‘Dualism – A Review’, in Nijman and Nollkaemper (eds.), New Perspectives on the Divide Between National and International Law (OUP 2007) 52, 52-62.

31 October - 15.30-17.30

Angelo Jr. Golia and Theodor Shulman

Nomos and Narrative

Mandatory readings

  • Robert M. Cover, ‘Forward: Nomos and Narrative’ (1983) 97 Harvard Law Review 4-68.
  • Jeffrey L. Dunoff, ‘A New Approach to Regime Interaction’, in M. A. Young (ed.), Regime Interaction in International Law: Facing Fragmentation (CUP 2012), 136-174.

Those who wish to delve deeper into the subject may also wish to consult (optional):

  • Paul S. Berman, ‘Jurisgenerative Constitutionalism: Procedural Principles for Managing Global Legal Pluralism’ (2013) 20 Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 665-695.
  • Sanne Taekema, ‘Between or Beyond Legal Orders: Questioning the Concept of Legal Order’, in J. Klabbers and G. Palombella (eds.), The Challenge of Inter-Legality (CUP 2019) 69-88

19 September 2019 – 15.30-17.30

Alexander Somek 


Sources of Law and the Legal Relation 


Required readings:  


  • We will focus on two excerpts from Professor Somek’s latest book The Legal Relation: Legal Theory after Legal Positivism.  
  • As background reading, Professor Somek recommends an excerpt from his latest German language book Wissen des Rechts (with commentaries by Andreas Funke and Thomas Vesting, Tübingen: Mohr, 2018) 

 Room 037

22 August 2019 - 15.30-17.30

Elena Evangelidis and Tom Sparks


Reconceptualising Law in an Era of Environmental Change:  Earth Jurisprudence and the Idea of Property


Required readings:

  • Glen Wright, ‘Climate Regulations as If the Planet Mattered :  the Earth Jurisprudence Approach to Climate Change’, (2013) 3 Environmental and Earth Law Journal 33-57.
  • Jeremy Waldron, ‘Property and Ownership’, Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (2004), available via
  • Peter D. Burdon, Earth Jurisprudence:  Private Property and the Environment (Routledge 2015), Chapter 5: Private Property Revisited (101-134).


Optional readings:

  • Louis Kotzé, Global Environmental Constitutionalism in the Anthropocene (Hart 2016), Introduction (1-20).
  • Anna Grear, ‘The Vulnerable Living Order:  Human Rights and the Environment in a Critical and Philosophical Perspective’ (2011) 2(1) Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 23-44.
  • Surabhi Ranganathan, ‘Global Commons’ (2016) 27(3) European Journal of International Law 693-717.
  • Judith E. Koons, ‘What is Earth Jurisprudence?  Key Principles to Transform Law for the Health of the Planet’ (2009) 18(1) Penn State Environmental Law Review 47-70.

Room 037

25 July 2019 - 15.30-17.30

Maria Angélica Prada-Uribe


The Spatial turn in legal scholarship: is it always law and geography or what are we talking about?


Required readings:


  • Irus Braverman, et al. (2014) “Introduction. Expanding Spaces of Law”, in Irus Braverman, et al. (eds) The Expanding Spaces of Law. A Timely Legal Geography. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 1-18.
  • Barney Warf and Santa Arias (2009) “Introduction: the insertion of space into social sciences and humanities”, in Barney Warf and Santa Arias (eds.) The Spatial Turn. Interdisciplinary perspectives. New York: Routledge, pp. 1-6.


Choose at least one of the following case studies:


  • Sara Keenan (2019) “A prison around your ankle and a border in every street: Theorising law, space and the subject”, in Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (ed.) Routledge Handbook of Law and Theory. New York: Routledge, pp. 71-87.
  • Nicholas Blomley (2005) "Flowers in the bathtub: boundary crossings at the public–private divide", Geoforum 36, no. 3, 281-296


Optional readings:


  • Franz von Benda-Beckmann and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann (2014) “Places that come and go: a legal anthropological perspective on the temporalities of space in plural legal societies”, in Irus Braverman, et al. (eds) The Expanding Spaces of Law. A Timely Legal Geography. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 30-47.
  • David Harvey (1989) “Reinventing geography: An interview with the editors of New Left Review”, New Left Review.
  • Doreen Massey (1992) "Politics and space/time", New Left Review.
  • Henri Lefebvre (1991) The Production of Space. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 26-59.


Room 037

27 June 2019 - 15,30-17.00

Kanad Bagchi


Challenging the Narrative of European International Law: A Glimpse into the Life and Work of Professor Charles Henry Alexandrowicz (1902–75)


Required readings:


  • David Armitage and Jennifer Pitts, ‘This Modern Grotius:  An Introduction to the Life and Thought of C.H. Alexandrowicz’, in C.H. Alexandrowicz, The Law of Nations in Global History (D. Armitage and J. Pitts (eds.), Oxford University Press 2017), 1-31.
  • C.H. Alexandrowicz, ‘Kautilyan Principles and the Law of Nations (1965-66)’, in C.H. Alexandrowicz, The Law of Nations in Global History (D. Armitage and J. Pitts (eds.), Oxford University Press 2017), 35-51.


Optional readings:


  • C.H. Alexandrowicz, ‘Mogul Sovereignty and the Law of Nations (1955)’, in C.H. Alexandrowicz, The Law of Nations in Global History (D. Armitage and J. Pitts (eds.), Oxford University Press 2017), 62-68.
  • C.H. Alexandrowicz, An Introduction to the History of the Law of Nations in the East Indies (Clarendon Press 1967), Chapter IV: ‘Capitulations’, 97-123 (part I).
  • C.H. Alexandrowicz, An Introduction to the History of the Law of Nations in the East Indies (Clarendon Press 1967), Chapter IV: ‘Capitulations’, 124-127 (part II).
  • R.P. Anand, ‘Role of the “New” Asian-African Countries in the Present International Order’ (1962) 56(2) American Journal of International Law 383-406/


Room 037


04 April 2019 - 15.30-17.00

Kristina Cufar


Subject, actor, sovereign: The doer behind the deed?




  • Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International(Routledge 1994), 77-87.  [Those interested to explore the subject further may wish to read the entirety of Chapter 2, pages 61-95.]
  • Friedrich Nietzche, ‘The Greek State’ in Keith Ansell Pearson (ed.), On the Genealogy of Morality (2nd edn., CUP 2011), 164-173.  

Room 037 

21 March 2019 - 15.30-17.00

Tom Sparks

Law and Violence


  • Walter Benjamin, ‘Critique of Violence’, in Walter Benjamin, Reflections:  Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings (Demetz (ed.), Jephcott (tr.), Schocken Books 1986), 277-300.  [First published as Zur Kritik der Gewalt (1920/21).]
  • Jacques Derrida, ‘Force of Law.  The “Mystical Foundations of Authority”’ in Cornell et al. (eds.) Deconstruction and the Possibility of Justice (Routledge 1992), 3-67.  [Those short on time may wish to focus on pages 16-29.]
  • Lon Fuller, ‘Positivism and Fidelity to Law – A Reply to Professor Hart’ (1957) 71(4) Harvard Law Review 630-672.  [Those short on time may wish to focus on pages 633-648; those not familiar with Fuller’s theory of law may also wish to consult the short extract from The Morality of Law listed in the optional reading.]
  • Jacques Derrida, ‘Admiration of Nelson Mandela, or The Laws of Reflection’ (2014) 26(1) Law & Literature 9-30 (Gelman (tr.)).  [First published as Admiration de Nelson Mandela, ou Les lois de la réflexion (1986); those short on time may wish to focus on sections 2 and 3, pages 12-24.]


Optional readings (for those with the time and inclination to explore the subject further):

  • Alan Gewirth, ‘The Basis and Content of Human Rights’ (1978-1979) 13 Georgia Law Review 1143-1170.
  • John Austin, The Province of Jurisprudence Determined (first published 1832; this edn: Rumble (ed.), Cambridge University Press 1995), 18-37 (‘Lecture 1’).
  • Lon Fuller, The Morality of Law (Yale University Press 1964) 33-44.

Room 214

14 February 2019 - 15.30-17.00

Sundhya Pahuja

Writing International Laws’ Stories:  How and Why We Tell Histories of International Laws


  • Upendra Baxi, ‘Some Remarks on Eurocentrism and the Law of Nations’, in RP Anand (ed.), Asian States and the Development of Universal International Law (Vikas 1972) 3-9.
  • Jennifer Beard, The Political Economy of Desire: International Law, Development and the Nation-State (Routledge 2007) x-xi (‘Preface’).
  • Antony Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of International Law (CUP 2005) 1-12 (‘Introduction’).
  • Joseph Slaughter, ‘Hijacking Human Rights: Neoliberalism, the New Historiography, and the End of the Third World’ (2018) 40(4) Human Rights Quarterly 735-75.


Letters from Bandung:  Encounters with Another International Law


  • Sundhya Pahuja, in: Luis Eslava, Michael Fakhri and Vasuki Nesia (eds.), Bandung, Global History, and International Law (CUP 2017) 552-575.

Room 037


17 January 2019 - 15.30-17.00

Guillaume Futhazar 

Thinking about Science and Society:  A Short Introduction to Science and Technology Studies


  • Merton Robert, The Sociology of Science Theoretical and Empirical Investigations (University of Chicago Press 1973), Chapter 13: ‘The Normative Structure of Science’, p. 267-278.
  • Gieryn Thomas, ‘Boundary-work and the Demarcation of Science from Non-Science: Strains and Interests in Professional Ideologies of Scientists’, (1983) 48(6) American Sociological Review 781-795.
  • Van den Hove Sybille, ‘A rationale for Science-Policy Interfaces’, (2007) 39(7) Futures 807-826. 

Room 014

6 December 2018 - 15.30-17.00

Robert Stendel

The Distinction between Public and Private:  Contingent, but Useful?


  • Lorenzo Casini, ‘Down the Rabbit-Hole:  The Projection of the Public/Private Divide beyond the State’ (2014) 12 International Journal of Constitutional Law 402; and
  • Gus van Harten, ‘The Public-Private Distinction in the International Arbitration of Individual Claims against the State’ (2007) 56 International and Comparative Law Quarterly 371.

Room 014

22 November 2018 - 15.30-17.00

René Urueña 

Action research:  Tools of legal scholarship for social change 


  • J. McNiff, Action Research: Principles and Practice (Routledge 2013), 17-24.
  • E. Tuck and K.W. Yang, ‘R-Words: Refusing Research’, in D. Paris and M.T.Winn (eds.), Humanizing Research: Decolonising Qualitative Inquiry with Youth and Communities (Sage Publications 2014), 223-237.
  • M. Zavala, ‘What Do We Mean by Decolonizing Research Strategies?  Lessons from Decolonizing, Indigenous Research Projects in New Zealand and Latin America’ (2013) 2(1) Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society 55-71, 55-65.

Room 037

25 October 2018 - 15.30-17.00

Alexandra Kemmerer

Reflexive We Stand: Hermeneutical Conversations, Meta-Theory, and Situatedness in International Law 


  • Her own chapter “Sources in the Meta-Theory of International Law: Hermeneutical Conversations”, in Besson et al., The Oxford Handbook on the Sources of International Law (Oxford University Press 2017), and
  • Outi Korhonen’s seminal article “New International Law: Silence, Defence or Deliverance?” (1996) 7 European Journal of International Law 1.

 Room 014

20 September 2018 - 15.30-17.00

Silvia Steininger 

Marxist Approaches to International Law  


  • B.S. Chimni, International Law and World Order:  A Critique of Contemporary Approaches (2nd edn., Cambridge University Press 2017), Chapter 7: 440-462.
  • Evgeny Pashukanis, ‘International Law’, in P. Bierne and R. Sharlet (eds.) Pashukanis: Selected Writings on Marxism and Law (P. Maggs (tr.), London and New York 1980), 184 et seq.
  • Paul O’Connell, ‘On the Human Rights Question’ (forthcoming 2018) Human Rights Quarterly, available via

 Room 014

16 August 2018 - 15.30-17.00

Raphael Schäfer

The Past as Tragedy, the Present as Farce? International Law's Historiographical Turn and the Reading of History


  • Andreas Thier, ' Time, Law, and Legal History - Some Observations and Considerations'. 25 Rechtsgeschichte - Legal History (2017) 20
  • Tilmann Altwicker/Oliver Diggelmann, 'How is Progress Constructed in International Legal Scholarship?', 25 European Journal of International Law (2014) 427
  • Thomas Kleinlein, 'International Legal Thought. Creation of a Tradition and the Potential of Disciplinary Self-Reflection', 16 The Global Community Yearbook of International Law and Jurisprudence 2016 (2017)

Room 014

19 July 2018 - 15.30-17.00

Justin Krahé and Peter McLaughlin

Law and Science


  • Stephen Toulmin, 'Discovery', in Toulmin, The Philosophy of Science - An Introduction (1953);
  • Julius von Kirchmann, Die Wertlosigkeit der Jurisprudenz als Wissenschaft - ein Vortrag (1948);
  • Michael Freeman, 'Nature of Jurisprudence', in Lloyd's Introduction to Jurisprudence (1985) 

Room 014

21 June 2018 - 15.30-17.00

Marius Hildebrand

Die Sitzung des Gesprächskreises wird sich mit dem Thema "Integration durch Hegemonie. Verfassungen als hegemoniale Institutionen politischer Gemeinschaften" beschäftigen. Dazu finden Sie angehängt zwei klassische Texte zur vorbereitenden Lektüre. Zum einen ein Text des deutschen Politikwissenschaftlers Hans Vorländer zu „Deutungsmacht – die Macht der Verfassungsgerichtsbarkeit“, zum anderen ein Ausschnitt aus dem Werk des italienischen Philosophen Antonio Gramsci.

Both texts and the introducing presentation will be in German. Discussion will be held both in English and German.

Raum 214

17 May 2018 - 15.30-17.00

Mark Somos

In Search of (Lost) Usable Legal History


Dr Somos has assembled a bibliography of short extracts as suggested reading for the seminar, divided into four sections.  If you are unable to read all suggested texts, please read at least one item from each section.  If you would like to receive a combined .pdf document containing the extracts, please contact .

  1. Status Quo and Rival proposals for a Future International Legal Historiography
    1. Randall Lesaffer, 'International Law and its History:  the Story of an Unrequited Love' in Craven et al (eds.), Time, History and International Law (Leiden, 2007), 27-41.
    2. Anne Orford, 'International Law and the Limits of History' in Werner et al. (eds), The Law of International Lawyers:  Reading Martti Koskenniemi (Cambridge, 2017), 311-2.
    3. Stefan Collini, 'The Identity of Intellectual History' in Whatmore and Young (eds.), A Companion of Intellectual History (Wiley, 2016), 12.
  2. Useable Legal History:  Praxis, Advocacy, and/or Art
    1. Friedrich Carl von Savigny, System of the Modern Roman Law (1840, En. tr. 1867), I.i-v.
    2. Constantin Fasolt, 'History, Law and Justice:  Empirical Method and Conceptual Confusion in the History of Law' (2015) 5 UC Irvine Law Review 413, 456-462.
    3. Martti Koskenniemi, 'Law, Teleology and International Relations:  an Essay in Counterdisciplinarity' (2011) 26(1) International Relations 3, 19-23.
    4. Anne Peters and Bardo Fassbender, 'Prospects and Limits of a Global History of International Law:  a Brief Rejoinder' (2014) 25(1) The European Journal of International Law 337, 339.
    5. David A. Sklansky, 'What Evidence Scholars can Learn from the Work of Stephen Yeazell:  History, Rulemaking, and the Lawyer's Fundamental Conflict' (2013) 61 UCLA Law Review 152, 154-6.
  3. When Did Legal History Begin?  When Did International Law Begin?
    1. John Selden, 'Notes on Fortescue' in De laudibus legum Angliae... (London 1616), 16-18.
    2. Ian Hunter, 'About the Dialectical Historiography of International Law' (2016) 1(1) Global Intellectual History 1, 1-3.
  4. An Illustration:  Applying Westphalia
    1. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, 'The Peace of Westphalia as a Model for Reflection on the Middle East', Osnabrück Peace Forum, 12 July 2016.
    2. Mark Somos, Secularisation and the Leiden Circle (Leiden 2011), 12-14 & 439-445.
    3. Mark Somos, 'Selden's Mare clausum:  the Secularisation of International Law and the Rise of Soft Imperialism' (2012) 14 Journal of the History of International Law 287, 327-330.


Room 014

The discussion will take place in English.

19 April 2018

Dana Schmalz

Distant Claimants:  Law, Politics and the Conditions of Co-Presence


  • Dana Schmalz, Draft Article: 'Distant Claimants:  Law, Politics and the Conditions of Co-Presence'
  • Etienne Balibar, Equalibity (Duke University Press 2014), Chapter 12: 'Towards Co-Citizenship'

22 March 2018

B.S. Chimni

Third World Approaches to International Law


  • B.S. Chimni, 'International Institutions Today:  An Imperial Global State in the Making' (2004) 15(1) European Journal of International Law 1.
  • Andrea Bianchi, International Law Theories:  An Inquiry into Different Ways of Thinking (Oxford University Press 2016), Chapter 10:  'Third World Approaches'.

15 February 2018

Why Study Theory?

Silvia Steininger and Tom Sparks


  • Lon Fuller, 'The Case of the Speluncean Explorers' (1949) 62(4) Harvard Law Review 616;
  • Anne Peters, 'There is Nothing more Practical than a Good Theory:  An Overview of Contemporary Approaches to International Law' (2001) 44 German Yearbook of International Law 25;
  • Roberto Mangaberia Unger, Interview with Social Science Bites, 2014 via: