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Fall 2024 Course

History of International Law

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: Any Day Take-Home

This course explores the evolution and historical roots of the present-day international legal system from a global perspective. We will trace intellectual trends, institutional developments, and historical conflicts or oppositions that shaped relations between political communities from 1450 C.E. to the 1970s. The objective is to gain insight into why certain foundational aspects of today’s international law, such as the doctrine of sources, the subjects of international law, and self-determination, have assumed their current form.

Our readings and discussions will address major debates in the burgeoning field of the history of international law, spanning topics such as periodization, methods, concepts, and the roles of European and non-European peoples.

We will devote particular attention to non-European traditions of inter-polity order and consider how legal theory and historical methodology can contribute to rigorous scholarship that appeals to legal scholars, historians, and area studies specialists.

No prior knowledge of international law or historical scholarship is required. Students can opt to write a research paper in lieu of the exam.