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What is Critical Research in International Law? Celebrating Structuralism



This essay is a friendly response to the colloquium on From Apology to Utopia (FATU). It restates the way critical research examines the exercise of power through analysis of (legal) language. Attention is directed especially to the empowering and enchanting effects of the law. The main point has to do with the continuing power of structuralism as a form of legal analysis.



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1 These different languages (‘justice’, ‘coherence’, ‘validity’, ‘effectiveness’ and so on) mark some of the internal divisions (or better, ‘positions’) through which the academic world of rule and policy-production organizes itself. None of them is better or worse than the others. They are just different ways of conceiving what ‘academic work’ in the field of law might be. They all have their different criteria of excellence, their traditions, standard-bearers and regular troops. Their ways of attack and defence against each other are well-known and constantly reproduced as part of the ‘structure’ of work in the legal academy.

2 d'Aspremont, J., ‘Martti Koskenniemi, the Mainstream, and Self-Reflectivity’, (2016) 29 LJIL 625–39.

3 Rasulov, A., ‘ From Apology to Utopia and The Inner Life of International Law’, (2016) 29 LJIL 641–66.

4 Ibid.

5 Desautels-Stein, J., ‘ From Apology to Utopia’s Point of Attack’, (2016) 29 LJIL 677–97.

6 Ibid.

7 Singh, S., ‘Koskenniemi's Images of the International Lawyer’, (2016) 29 LJIL 699–726.

8 Haskell, J., ‘ From Apology to Utopia’s Conditions of Possibility’, (2016) 29 LJIL 667–76.

* Academy Professor Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki [].


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What is Critical Research in International Law? Celebrating Structuralism



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