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Comparativism and Colonizing Thinking in International Law

Abstract : Comparison is a very common tool for international lawyers. In fact, international law is built around, and draws upon, constructions necessitating an exercise of comparison. In recent years, however, calls have been made to turn the familiar tool of comparison into a central way to engage with international law. This is the idea of those spearheading the rise of a new field called comparative international law. This article critically examines the promotion of comparison as a central mode of engagement with international law and scrutinizes some of the main features of the comparativist project. It particularly shows that the comparativist project, far from laying bare the plurality of international legal thought and practice, enables a thought-colonizing enterprise. The article ends with some reflective observations on the possibility of limiting colonizing thinking in international legal studies. In doing so, it argues that it must remain possible for international lawyers to engage with alterity in a way that does not unilaterally manufacture the “other,” silence it, and speak on its behalf. This approach is called counter-comparability.
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Submitted on : Monday, May 17, 2021 - 5:17:39 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 30, 2021 - 9:08:14 AM

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Jean d'Aspremont. Comparativism and Colonizing Thinking in International Law. Canadian Yearbook of International Law, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, 2020, pp.89 - 112. ⟨10.1017/cyl.2020.14⟩. ⟨hal-03228012⟩

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