The concept of a utopian international lawyer, like the concept of utopia itself, is not a technical legal concept. Nor is it a designation of a recognized professional identity or a legal term of art. And yet if one looks at the broader conceptual landscape surrounding the contemporary international legal discourse, it certainly seems to carry a very important meaning in the eyes of the international legal profession, a meaning which in many ways is unique and has no discernible parallels in any other comparable cultural arena or discursive tradition. This chapter explores the internal phenomenology and the general theoretical structure behind this meaning. What is that basic complex of ideas, tropes, assumptions and discursive devices by means of which the concept of a utopian international lawyer is constructed, encoded and represented in the contemporary international legal culture? What is the cultural logic behind the traditional anti-utopianist reflex within the broader disciplinary field of international law? Why do international lawyers tend to resent utopianism so much? How do they explain and rationalize the logic of this resentment, and what can all this tell us about the broader power dynamics underlying the anti-utopianist discourse and the politics of identitarian designations that comes in its wake?
The concept of imperialism represents one of the most significant nodal points in the broader structure of the contemporary international law discourse, a marker of a complex discursive space, the intellectual platform for the actualization of international law's various ideological struggles. How we construct the concept of imperialism, how we narrate the relationship between it and the rest of the ideational landscape of international law, in the final analysis, always acts as a statement about where exactly within the discipline’s internal political space we prefer to make our ideological home. In the contemporary usage, the international legal discourse about imperialism is structured around four basic narratives. Each of these narratives presupposes its own, fairly distinct conception of what international lawyers should understand by imperialism and how it relates to international law. Drawing on the methodologies of critical narratology and Critical Legal Studies, this chapter proposes to trace the general contours of each of these four narratives and explore their underlying theoretical logics and conceptual architectures.