Law without Nations

Law without Nations

Law without Nations

Law without Nations

Synopsis

The possibility of law in the absence of a nation would seem to strip law from its source of meaning and value. At the same time, law divorced from nations would clear the ground for a cosmopolitan vision in which the prejudices or idiosyncrasies of distinctive national traditions would give way to more universalist groundings for law. These alternately dystopian and utopian viewpoints inspire this original collection of essays on law without nations.

This book examines the ways in which the growing internationalization of law affects domestic national law, the relationship between cosmopolitan legal ideas and understandings of national identity, and the intersections of identity and law based on the liberal tradition of jurisprudence and transnational influences. Ultimately, Law without Nations offers sharp analyses of the fraught relationship between the nation and the state- and the legal forms and practices that they require, constitute, and violently contest.

Excerpt

Lawrence Douglas

Austin Sarat

Martha Merrill Umphrey

To speak about law without nations is to imagine the nightmarish possibility and the utopian. the possibility of law in the absence of a nation would seem to empty law of its animating spirit, to sever it from its source and meaning. At the same time, law divorced from nations would seem to clear the ground for a cosmopolitan legality free of the prejudices or idiosyncrasies of distinctive national traditions and universalist in its accents. These dystopian and utopian imaginings inspire and invigorate thinking about law without nations.

Law without Nation-States: Transitional Developments

The term “nation” has vexed political thinkers from Herder and Fichte to Benedict Anderson and Homi Bhabha. in his famous lecture “Qu-est-ce qu’une nation?” delivered in Sorbonne on March n, 1882, Ernst Renan canvassed all the standard definitions of “nation” and found them all wanting. the “exclusive concern with language”; the “excessive preoccupation with race”; the fixation on “theological dogma”; the “arbitrary” and “fatal” elevation of geography to “a kind of limiting a priori”—none of these, Renan insists, provide an adequate definition of “nation,” as they all suffer from the problem of over- or underexclusivity.

Not all legal and political thinkers, however, have been equally vexed by the problem of definition. Today there is a tendency to treat the term “nation” as no more than shorthand for the term “nation-state,” the form of political organization that arose in Europe in the wake of the Peace of Westphalia. This political form, with its familiar sovereign powers, centralized administrative systems, and monopoly of legitimate force, now serves as the principal vehicle for the . . .

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