Teaching International Law: Between Critique and the Canon

The last decades have witnessed a steady proliferation of critical engagements with international law. The Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) movement, feminist, intersectional and critical race studies, deconstruction, Marxism, Indigenous legal scholarship, decolonial, post-colonial, new materialist and post-humanist approaches are all challenging mainstream international legal discourse. In particular, they are challenging the field’s commitment to liberalism, its anthropocentrism, colour-blindness and linear understandings of history, as well as its pretences of post-coloniality and post-imperialism. The emergence of these critical pathways have a significant impact both on legal research and on legal teaching. However, a sustained discussion on the meaning and implications of teaching law critically, and especially with a re-orientation to the Global South and other vantage points, remains to be had. 

Drawing from our own struggles over teaching transnational and international law and having to balance between competing demands for doctrinal rigour and critical engagement, we invite submissions that reflect on the challenges of teaching international law critically. We encourage our contributors to focus especially on the question of the ‘canon’ and the choice of reading materials. We welcome contributions that explore (but are not limited to):  

  • The relationship between orthodoxy and heterodoxy in international legal teaching; 
  • The co-existence of competing obligations toward our students and diverse pedagogical imperatives & the techniques developed to reconcile potential tensions;  
  • Personal experiences with the teaching of ‘unorthodox’ materials, which can include not only critical legal scholarship, but also art, literature, music, personal narrative, film, image-based learning etc.  
  • The shifting boundaries between the canon and its critics and the potential of legal education to contribute to such shifts;  
  • Tactics for dealing with openly racist/sexist/homophobic material in class. 

Submissions should be 3,000 words or less. Submissions should conform with the TWAILR: Reflections Submission Guidelines. We are interested in and welcome submissions that do not conform with the traditional form of academic outputs. We especially welcome submissions by People of Colour, Indigenous scholars and those writing from the Global South.  

Extended Deadline: 1st September 2020