Contributions to Disciplinary Thought
Edited by Jean d’Aspremont and Sahib Singh
Chapter 59: The Utopians
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?
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