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State-Centrism, International Law, and the Anxieties of Influence

Abstract

State-centrism is a key concept in discussions of sovereignty, justice, and the global political order and of changes within that order. Thus we routinely hear: ‘that analysis is far too state-centric!’ Or: ‘earlier approaches were marred by excessive state-centrism, and need to be reconsidered in the light of contemporary circumstances’. Or even: ‘I'm state-centrist and proud of it’. This article brings into focus some of the themes associated with state-centrism in international legal writing, and suggests something of the limits of this way of framing issues. It also raises the possibility that these themes may provide clues to certain characteristic and apparently deep-rooted, but not always clearly recognized, anxieties on the part of those who work in this field. Borrowing a phrase from Harold Bloom, the article refers to these as anxieties of influence.

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Leiden Journal of International Law
  • ISSN: 0922-1565
  • EISSN: 1478-9698
  • URL: /core/journals/leiden-journal-of-international-law
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