Recent research in the history of international law

In: Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis / Revue d'histoire du droit / The Legal History Review
Frederik Dhondt Lecturer, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Legal History Institute, Ghent University, Faculty of Law, Department of Interdisciplinary Study of Law, Private Law and Business Law, Universiteitstraat 4, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium

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This review article treats the booming scholarship on the history of international law over the past decade. Works with a broader view (1), including the recent big-book syntheses and collective works, are contrasted with monographs (2), from studies of treaties and doctrine, over diplomatic practice to scholarship by historians and, finally, interdisciplinary scholarship. This texts provides a personal panorama of the wide array of scholarly perspectives on a common object: rules recognised in the community or society of states. New insights from history and social sciences, especially the turn to global history, open fresh prospects for ‘traditional’ legal historical research. Studying the encounter between ‘European’ international law and other continents rises our indispensable intercultural awareness. Yet, it should also serve to better understand the specificity of European legal thinking or diplomatic practice, and does not render research on the latter obsolete or redundant.

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