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A Critical Examination of the Concept of Imperialism in Marxist and Third World Approaches to International Law

Knox, Robert (2014) A Critical Examination of the Concept of Imperialism in Marxist and Third World Approaches to International Law. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

During the 2000s the terms ‘imperialism’ and ‘empire’ made a reappearance. This reappearance followed ‘unilateral’ military interventions by the United States and its allies. Because these military interventions were all justified using international legal argument that the international legal discipline also became increasingly concerned with these terms. Given this, it is unsurprising that there also arose two critical schools of thinking about international law, who foregrounded its relationship to imperialism. These were those working in the Marxist tradition and the Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) movement. Both of these intellectual movements are contemporary examples of older traditions. Despite this popularity, there has been little sustained attention to the specific concepts of imperialism that underlie these debates. This thesis attempts to move beyond this, through mapping the way in which Marxist and TWAIL scholars have understood imperialism and its relationship to international law. The thesis begins by reconstructing the conceptual history of the terms ‘colonialism’, ‘empire’ and ‘imperialism’, drawing out how they are enmeshed in broader theoretical and historical moments. In particular it pays close attention to the historical and political consequences of adopting particular understandings of these concepts. It then examines how these understandings have played out concretely. It reconstructs earlier Third Worldist thinking about imperialism and international law, before showing how contemporary TWAIL scholars have understood this relationship. It then looks at how the Marxist tradition has understood imperialism, before turning specifically to Marxist international legal theory. Finally, it turns to the interrelationship between Marxist and Third Worldist theory, arguing that each tradition can contribute to remedying the limitations in the other. In so doing it also attempts to flag up the complex historical inter-relation between these two traditions of thinking about imperialism and international law.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Robert Knox
Library of Congress subject classification: K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Hoffman, Florian
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1030

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