Concepts for International Law
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Concepts for International Law

Contributions to Disciplinary Thought

Edited by Jean d’Aspremont and Sahib Singh

Concepts shape how we understand and participate in international legal affairs. They are an important site for order, struggle and change. This comprehensive and authoritative volume introduces a large number of concepts that have shaped, at various points in history, international legal practice and thought; intimates at how the many projects of international law have grappled with, and influenced, the world through certain concepts; and introduces new concepts into the discipline.
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Chapter 51: Revolutionaries

Vidya Kumar


This chapter examines the conceptual belonging of ‘revolutionaries’ in international law in three sections. It argues that a conceptual history that explores where, how and why a concept belongs to a discipline can help one to understand, and come to terms with, the concept’s past(s), present(s) and future(s). Specifically, it argues first that etymology, as a technique, shows us that the epistemic place of the concept of revolutionaries is both within and outside of the discipline of international law depending on when the question is posed; second, that the concept’s fit into two extant categories of international law – state responsibility and recognition – is contiguous; and finally, that the concept’s purpose in the discipline of international law is up for grabs and depends on how the discipline decides who counted, who counts and who will count as a revolutionary in international law. This answer to this question ultimately lies in our understanding of the role played by justice and imagination in the international legal order.

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