International Law: A Novel, by G. (reviewed by a protagonist)

This essay is part of a symposium on Gerry Simpson’s The Sentimental Life of International Law. All contributions to the symposium can be found here.   [I]rony [is employed] as a defense, . . . especially against the expression of intense affect . . . – M.H. Stein (1985) G.’s aspiration in his splendid new book[1] appears to be to rewrite international law as a vast novel, much as (another) G. sought to rewrite world history as a vast novel two centuries ago, in his Continue reading →

Barbarian International Law

This essay is part of a symposium on Gerry Simpson’s The Sentimental Life of International Law. All contributions to the symposium can be found here. Gerry Simpson has written what he is pleased to describe—tongue firmly placed in cheek—in the alternative as “the most useless book in the history of international law,” presumably saving any timid would-be-readers the trouble of checking for themselves. What the intrepid rest of us do get instead are six chapters showcasing in typical Simpsonian fashion what is possible in writing Continue reading →

A Style for the Human Heart

This essay is part of a symposium on Gerry Simpson’s The Sentimental Life of International Law. All contributions to the symposium can be found here. The Sentimental Life of International Law approaches anew “our age-old longing for a decent international society” (1). In search for such decency, the book critiques international law’s disciplinary constitution by means of what it “forbids its practitioners to do.”[1] This inquiry is driven by an existential unease over the strictures international law places on our engagement with the ineffable violence Continue reading →

International Law and the Longing to Garden 

This essay is part of a symposium on Gerry Simpson’s The Sentimental Life of International Law. All contributions to the symposium can be found here. Gerry Simpson’s The Sentimental Life of International Law is a book for re-envisioning ways to think and feel against the grain of international law. A plea for practitioners of international law to become more responsive to their own political longings, the book defamiliarizes the depoliticizing routines of international law in order to re-enliven a sense of imaginative possibilities even within Continue reading →

Reflections on The Sentimental Life of International Law

This essay is part of a symposium on Gerry Simpson’s The Sentimental Life of International Law. All contributions to the symposium can be found here. Having read several times Gerry Simpson’s 2015 article in the London Review of International Law by the same name, it was an absolute pleasure and delight to read this book. Behind every piece of writing is an author, a person with sentiments, thoughts, and unique experiences. And behind every reader is likewise a person with sentiments, thoughts, and unique experiences. Continue reading →

My Book as a Russian Novel

This essay is part of a symposium on Gerry Simpson’s The Sentimental Life of International Law. All contributions to the symposium can be found here. These wise and witty rejoinders to my book made me, as usual, want to write another book in response—perhaps, the original book, but heavily modified. Reading one’s reviews is often a fraught business. One carefully placed arrow and you’re dead. Generally speaking, no matter how laudatory, we only remember those stinging, accurate barbs. But reading these essays had the opposite Continue reading →

Forum on New Histories of the Cold War

This essay is part of a forum on new histories of the Cold War. All contributions to the forum can be found here. Paul Thomas Chamberlain The Cold War’s Killing Fields: Rethinking the Long Peace New York: HarperCollins, 2018 Lorenz Lüthi Cold Wars: Asia, The Middle East, Europe Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020 Kristina Spohr Post Wall, Post Square: Rebuilding the World After 1989 New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020 Are we entering a new Cold War? Recent years have seen a deterioration of relations Continue reading →

Accountants, Cartographers, and Systems Analysts, Oh My!

This essay is part of a forum on new histories of the Cold War. All contributions to the forum can be found here. At this point, we know a lot about the Cold War. In part, that has been the product of archival access. Across Eastern Europe, formerly communist states and ex-Soviet republics have flung open their archives, willing—indeed, eager—to share the closely-held secrets of the past. The passage of time, too, has brought mandatory declassifications and regular releases from national archives, foreign ministries, presidential Continue reading →

The “Cold War” and Other Frames: On the Challenges of Writing Global History

This essay is part of a forum on new histories of the Cold War. All contributions to the forum can be found here. What is global history and how do we go about writing it? What does it mean for our understanding of the so-called Cold War, and for its historiography? These are the challenges that the books in this roundtable take up, as three regional specialists turn their hand to the telling of a century of simultaneous connections between far-flung regions of the world. Continue reading →

Notes from a Latin Americanist

This essay is part of a forum on new histories of the Cold War. All contributions to the forum can be found here. In 2005, in his book The Global Cold War, Odd Arne Westad formulated an innovative intellectual blueprint for writing new international histories of the Third World through the prism of three southern continents’ shared struggle for postcolonial forms of political and economic sovereignty. This has given rise to new projects on the Global Cold War, particularly in its regional iterations, as these three Continue reading →