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Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context

CLSGC Workshop - After Abstraction: Intellectual Thought in International Law

17 October 2019 - 18 October 2019

Time: 2:00 - 1:00pm

The Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context (CLSGC) and the ESIL Interest Group in International Legal Theory and Philosophy are delighted to host a two-day workshop at Queen Mary University of London.

Organisers: Eva Nanopoulos/Isobel Roele (QMUL, hosts/co-organisers), Jörg Kammerhofer (Freiburg, ESIL IGILTP)


If current international law scholarship could be captured in one phrase, we could do worse than adopt the cry, “Abstraction is dead! Long live contextualism!”. From critical sociologies, geographies and anthropologies, to the superannuation of the generalist international lawyer, through Chicago empiricism, past impact case-studies and key-stakeholder involvement, and all the way to Left and postcolonial histories, intellectual thought in international law seems to have forsaken abstraction and dedicated itself to contextualism. Our workshop sets out to investigate this impression and to consider what, if anything, is at stake in the loss of abstraction - if indeed it is lost.

The workshop investigates three aspects of this: The relationship between epistemology and doctrine in international legal theory; historical methods and methodologies; and the causes, contexts and implications of the ‘crisis’ of international legal theory. The format of the workshop is informal and intended to encourage dialogue. PhD students, early career academics, and established scholars from any institution or discipline are equally welcome to join the conversation.

**Please be aware that the workshop will be held in two different venues on each day - you are welcome to register for one day or both days**

Day 1 Programme

Location: Room 3.1, Centre of Commercial Law, Lincoln’s Inn Field, Queen Mary, University of London - please refer to the map
Time: 2pm - 6pm

2:20pm - 2.30pm: Welcome

  • Eva Nanopoulos/Isobel Roele (QMUL, hosts/co-organisers)
  • Jörg Kammerhofer (Freiburg, ESIL IGILTP)

2.30pm - 4pm: Split Loyalties or Dual Reliance? Today’s International Legal Theory between Epistemology and Legal Doctrine

  • Chair: Paul Gragl (QMUL)
  • Pauline Westerman (Groningen)
  • Thomas Kleinlein (Jena)
  • Tilmann Altwicker (Zurich)
  • Rapporteur: Lea Raible (Maastricht)

4pm - 4.30pm:  Coffee break

4.30pm - 6pm Methodology and the Rise of Method

  • Chair: Isobel Roele (QMUL)
  • Martin Clark (LSE)
  • Megan Donaldson (UCL)
  • Rapporteur: Roxana Banu (Western Law School)

Register for Day 1

 Day 2 Programme

Location: Room 313, Third Floor, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS - please refer to the map.
Time: 9:30am - 1pm

9.30 am –11am: After Abstraction: Causes, Context, Consequences

  • Chair: Neve Gordon (QMUL)
  • Corinne Blalock (Yale)
  • Matthew Nicholson (Durham)
  • Nicole Roughan (Auckland)
  • Rapporteur: Margot Salomon (LSE)

11am – 11. 30am:  Coffee break

11.30am – 1pm:  Rapporteurs’ wrap-up and closing

  • Chair: Maks del Mar (QMUL)
  • Lea Raible (Maastricht)
  • Margot Salomon (LSE)
  • Roxana Banu (Western Law School)

1pm: Lunch


Register for Day 2


For more information on this event, please email

Photography, video and audio recording

School of Law events may be photographed or video and audio recorded. These materials will be used for internal and external promotional purposes only by Queen Mary University of London. If you object to appearing in the photographs, please let our photographer know on the day. Alternatively you can email in advance of the event that you are attending.

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