Whiggish International Law

Elihu Root, the Monroe Doctrine, and International Law in the Americas


International law’s turn to history in the Americas receives invigorated refreshment with Christopher Rossi’s adaptation of the insightful and inter-disciplinary teachings of the English School and Cambridge contextualists to problems of hemispheric methodology and historiography. Rossi sheds new light on abridgments of history and the propensity to construct and legitimize whiggish understandings of international law based on simplified tropes of liberal and postcolonial treatments of the Monroe Doctrine. Central to his story is the retelling of the Monroe Doctrine by its supreme early twentieth century interlocutor, Elihu Root and other like-minded internationalists. Rossi’s revival of whiggish international law cautions against the contemporary tendency to re-read history with both eyes cast on the ideological present as a justification for misperceived historical sequencing.

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Christopher R. Rossi teaches international law at the University of Iowa College of Law. He is the author of Equity and International Law (Transnational), Broken Chain of Being: James Brown Scott and the Origins of Modern International Law (Kluwer), and Sovereignty and Territorial Temptation (Cambridge).
Scholars and historians of international law, international relations, the Monroe Doctrine, and foreign policy in the Americas will be interested in this refreshment of Herbert Butterfield’s seminal study of problems of contextualization.