Fleur Johns, University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law, is publishing On Dead Circuits and Non-Events in Contingency and the Course of International Law (Kevin Jon Heller and Ingo Venzke, eds., Oxford University Press) (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
Many an international law scholar has traced a route for her readers from ignorance, via debunking, to contingency, and onwards to possibility. Carrying scholars along this route is a presumed connection between awareness and agency. If only people recalled (with guidance from sophisticated scholars of international law) how chancy and open-ended international legal history has been, they might have the wherewithal to take their presents and futures in another direction – or so it is often assumed. This chapter will consider some possible perils of work so oriented, both in the sense of the kinds of operations that it leaves untouched and the circuit of humanist expectation that it helps to maintain (specifically, the idea that political capacity is a likely by-product of insight). Amid the increasingly self-organising streams of digits and ‘stuff’ shaping global affairs, this circuit may be especially dangerous for the distractions and disassociations it engenders. What, this chapter will ask, if international legal scholars were to identify possibility with pattern and formula, storage and transmission, rather than irregularity and insight? Perhaps this may spawn a politics better attuned to the now.Download the essay from SSRN at the link.