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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
July 2022
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Book description

Over the past decades international affairs have been increasingly legalized. International law has dramatically expanded into new fields and taken on new challenges. Despite this development, there has been little in-depth scholarship on what impact these changes have had on the field of international legal theory, how it is taught, and where it is going. This volume investigates the major developments in the field and explores the core assumptions and concepts, analytical tools, and key challenges associated with different approaches. An outstanding team of legal academics provides an accessible overview of competing theoretical movements, and a more in-depth understanding of the strengths, preoccupations, insights, and limits of those schools of thought. The contributions provide an authoritative account of current thinking about the theoretical foundations of contemporary international law and will serve as an indispensable resource for students, scholars, and practitioners.


‘Long ago, those of us teaching international legal theory looking for a single teaching text had to cobble together (and severely edit) a mountain of sometimes indigestible texts, perhaps supplemented by AJIL's 1999 symposium on ‘method.' Dunoff and Pollack have now gifted us with a cornucopia of riches. This is a highly readable collection of ‘traditional,' ‘critical,' ‘post-cold war,' and ‘interdisciplinary' frameworks for making sense of the field, capped by three ‘dialectic' perspectives by luminaries (Abi-Saab, de Chazournes, and Weiler). The sterling collection of well-crafted essays are written either by those who originated the theoretical approach (e.g., Koh on transnational legal process) or by contemporary adherents most associated with them (e.g., Gathii on TWAIL or the formidable trio of Engle, Nesiah, and Otto on feminist approaches). This is destined to be an indispensable text for those of us who think theory matters. And it may even convince those who think it doesn't. International law geeks (and their students) should give thanks for this most welcome contribution.'

J. E. Alvarez - Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law, NYU School of Law

‘This is an inspired collection, both in terms of the scholars and the subjects that it brings together. It will be a gift to undergraduate and advanced students in international law, enabling them to go beyond the doctrinal to explore diverse approaches including critical and inter-disciplinary perspectives. The volume is destined to become a classic in its field.'

Joanne Scott - Professor of Law and Head of Department, European University Institute

‘Once again, the scientific partnership of Jeff Dunoff and Mark Pollack works wonders. The charm of the book is that it shows how the representative collection of theories it proposes complement each other as much as they contradict each other. Their contradictions make sense of their plurality, but their complementarity makes sense of international law. The introduction and the (dialogical) conclusion, which show this so well, are real gems.'

Hélène Ruiz Fabri - Director, Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law

‘Nothing is more practical than a good theory! A wonderful choice of important approaches to international law, written by eminent scholars of our time. The chapters, each authoritative on its own account, are embedded in a highly informed and informing introduction by the editors and a dialogical epilogue by the authors with Joseph Weiler. The reflections on theory, method, and the ‘big picture' of international law are highly welcome in the current period of challenge and change.'

Anne Peters - Director, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law

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