Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory
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Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory

Edited by Emilios Christodoulidis, Ruth Dukes and Marco Goldoni

Critical theory, characteristically linked with the politics of theoretical engagement, covers the manifold of the connections between theory and praxis. This thought-provoking Research Handbook captures the broad range of those connections as far as legal thought is concerned and retains an emphasis both on the politics of theory, and on the notion of theoretical engagement. The first part examines the question of definition and tracks the origins and development of critical legal theory along its European and North American trajectories. The second part looks at the thematic connections between the development of legal theory and other currents of critical thought such as; Feminism, Marxism, Critical Race Theory, varieties of post-modernism, as well as the various ‘turns’ (ethical, aesthetic, political) of critical legal theory. The third and final part explores particular fields of law, addressing the question how the field has been shaped by critical legal theory, or what critical approaches reveal about the field, with the clear focus on opportunities for social transformation.
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Chapter 26: Critical legal theory and international law

Bill Bowring


‘Critical legal theory’ has generated a vast and diverse English-language scholarly literature. This is in part because of its unusual eclecticism and heterogeneity, and in consequence it is very hard to pin down. So this short entry does not propose a complete and detailed overview of the impact of CLS on international law, or anything like it. Familiar landmarks will make their appearance, hopefully with new perspectives, and in context. But the aspect which interests me in particular is the noticeable disjuncture between two worlds: that of heterodox legal scholarship, and that of radical international lawyering. I explore the evident disjuncture, or dis-connect, between academic writing and legal practice in radical or progressive approaches to international law. I conclude with some final comments on that broken relationship, with an emphasis on what two theorists, Kennedy and Koskenniemi, have said about the practitioners.

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