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School of Law

Global Jurists Seminar Two - Global Jurists in History

14 December 2016

Time: 4:00 - 7:00pm
Venue: Collette Bowe / Martin Harris Rooms, Queens' Building, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS

Part of the seminar series on Global Jurists: Past, Present and Future, organised by the Centre for European and International Legal Affairs (CEILA) and the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context (CLSGC).

This series offers a multi-disciplinary exploration of ‘global jurists’, as they have acted in the past, as they are acting now, and as they may act in the future. Often crossing boundaries between theory and practice in various ways, a global jurist may be someone who has sought to articulate (and possibly act on / advocate in practice) an account of legal norms with global reach, or someone whose ideas / practices migrated and travelled globally, influencing law and legal thought. We understand the ‘global’ loosely, and thus seek to explore the figure of the jurist as a mediator between different kinds of communities, whether international, regional, transnational, imperial or colonial. The series will involve 5 seminars exploring a variety of aspects of the figure of the global jurist, with the following specific themes: The Idea of the Global Jurist; Global Jurists in History; Comparisons, Transplantations, Migrations; Radical/Activist Visions; and Adjudication and Global Jurists.

Organised by Dr Maks Del Mar

Chair: Professor Georgios Varouxakis (QMUL)

Topics and speakers

  • Dr Shruti Kapila (UK), ‘KM Munshi: Sedition, Sovereignty and the Discovery of Political Orders’
    Draft abstract: I will explore the relationship between the legal recognition of sedition and its constitutive role for the making of politics. Focussed on the Indian jurist and politician K M Munshi, and a member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted the Indian Constitution, Munshi was a formative figure in defining the legal horizons of ‘emergency’ and unitary sovereignty of independent and postcolonial India. Briefly, Munshi along with others (who will have a walk on part in this paper) were critical in translating ‘freedom’ into sovereignty. With a backward glance on Henry Maine who specified and amplified the legal parameters of sedition in imperial India, the paper will discuss the anxious if productive relationship of law with politics. Strikingly both Munshi and Maine were figureheads of conservatism in their day and the paper will further chart the distinction between imperial and postcolonial and postwar regimes of sovereignty.
  • Rohit De (US), 'The Postcolonial Career of D.N Pritt: Decolonization and the international culture of Rebellious Lawyering'
    Draft abstract: I am going to focus on Pritt's career and writings in the 1950's to think through a culture of law as resistance that arose from the left and anti-colonialism after the war. Methodologically, the paper hopes to make two interventions, first connect the practice and thought of lawyers (i.e. their writings and their professional advocacy) and secondly, to see jurists as part of a milieu (and I'll be focusing on some lawyers in India and East Africa with whom Pritt co-authored and collaborated).
  • Dr Katharina Rietzler (UK), ‘Friedrich Berber: Lawyering, Life History and Vergangenheitsbewältigung
    Draft abstract: Focussing on the networks of professional esteem and solidarity that shape international law as a profession, I will speak about Friedrich Berber, a legal adviser to the Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s, and the Nehruvian government in the early 1950s. Rather than dwelling on Berber’s colourful global career, I will analyse how he managed to recover and entrench his position in West-German academia where he returned in the mid-1950s, and what this process might reveal about the transnational dimensions of Vergangenheitsbewältigung in the German legal profession. Berber strategically used his status as a ‘global jurist’ to gain a professorship in Munich and successfully defended his reputation against numerous allegations related to his Nazi past. His career has only recently come under renewed scrutiny when the city of Munich decided to re-dedicate a street named after Berber in 2015.
  • Mira Siegelberg (QMUL), ‘The Stoic Moment in Twentieth Century International Legal Thought’
    Draft abstract: My discussion will focus on Egon Schwelb, and to a lesser extent, John Fried. Schwelb was one of the founders of human rights law after the Second World War. Fried participated in this intellectual project, in addition to advising new states on international law in the 1950s and 1960s. Both received their legal training in interwar Central Europe and found employment after the war in new UN bureaucracies as legal experts. I’m interested in what their public writing, private relationships, and professional lives reveal about the broader mid-century reconceptualization of international law, and the meaning of law more generally, that helped establish the foundations for the contemporary legalization of global order.
  • Dr Natasha Wheatley (AUS) ‘Krystyna Marek: On the Worldedness of International Law’
    Draft abstract: Largely forgotten today, the Polish jurist Krystyna Marek wrote a fascinating 1954 tome on the identity and continuity of states that I will resurrect as a pivot in the history of how international law makes its world. I explore law’s worldedness in two different registers that here tangle together: its dominion over a changing community of states, and its dominion over the line between law and fact – that is, the assertion that the creation and extinction of states was not a meta-juridical question of fact beyond the authority and visibility of international law. In drawing state birth and state death into the sphere of the legally knowable, the ‘world’ of international law emerges differently not only as an object of the jurist’s inquiry but as an attribute of the jurist herself, namely, as a particular scholarly habitus and epistemological vantage point.


For directions to the venue, please refer to the map.

How to book

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