Passion and Ambivalence

Colonialism, Nationalism, and International Law


Ethnic, nationalist, and religious conflicts and debates about international intervention have been central global preoccupations of the past hundred years. Such debates, this volume argues, were first framed in their modern form during the interwar period, when a “Modernist break” (akin to that in literature, philosophy, and the arts) transformed the way such conflicts were viewed. Internationalists began to cast identity-based claims — whether those of anti-colonialists or European separatists — not only as mortal dangers to international order but as indispensable to its revitalization. Drawing on cultural studies, postcolonial theory, and psychoanalysis — with case studies ranging from 1930s Ethiopia to 1990s Jerusalem — this volume looks at both the origins and legacy of these debates, offering a radical reinterpretation of modern internationalism.

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Nathaniel Berman (B.A. Yale, J.D. Harvard Law) is the Rahel Varnhagen Professor of International Affairs, Law, and Modern Culture at the Cogut Center for the Humanities, Brown University. He has published widely on international law, cultural modernism, nationalism, and colonialism.
"[...] [P]athbreaking interventions that have had wide influence and we are fortunate tot have these gathered together in a single volume. In addition, collectively, these interventions enact a distinct presence that is even more than the sum of its parts." – Dr. Vasuki Nesiah, in: Global Law Books, 19.4.2013
"Berman’s work counts among the most exciting and important scholarship to have come out of the discipline over the last two decades. Berman [...] has found a unique approach to his themes by incorporating impulses from cultural studies, psychoanalysis and postcolonial theory into a close scrutiny of archival files and data material." – Alexandra Kemmerer, in: Transnational Legal Theory 3/1 (2012), pp. 87–94
A Critical Introduction
Emmanuelle Jouannet

Part I. Empire and the International

1. In the Wake of Empire
2. Intervention in a 'Divided World': Axes of Legitimacy

Part II. Passions, Legal and Nationalist: The Modernist Renewal of International

3. But the Alternative is Despair': European Nationalism and the Modernist Renewal of International Law
4. Between 'Alliance' and 'Localization': Nationalism and the New Oscillationism
5. The Nationality Decrees Case, or, of Intimacy and Consent
6. Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism? Ethiopia, Czechoslovakia, and 'Peaceful Change'

Part III. Of Law and Fantasy

7. Nationalism 'Good' and 'Bad': Vicissitudes of an Obsession
8. Legalizing Jerusalem, or, of Law, Fantasy, and Faith

Part IV. Ambivalence and Power

9. Imperial Ambivalences: Scenes from a Critical History of Internationalis"

Those interested in the histories of international law, nationalism, colonialism, cultural Modernism, and identity politics – as well as global policy responses to ethnic and religious conflict and struggles for self-determination.
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