The first part of the article presents a six-tiered typology of conventional approaches to historical periodization in international law. The “hegemonic” approach, the “Eurocentric universalist” approach, the “state-centric” approach, the “intellectual doctrinal” approach, the “institutional” approach, and the “normative” approach to the question of periodization of the history of international law are surveyed in turn in the light of contemporary literature. The second part examines how in the wake of the recent “historical turn” in international law a new critical historiographical wave has problematized the question of periodization because of the homogenizing effects and the “teleology of progress” to which periodization is interpreted to contribute in international legal history. The third part tackles the notion of “alternative periodization” illustrating, with examples from contemporary literature in the history of international law, its value as a launching pad for the “formation of new, formerly unknown periods,” a task that is considered “an essential part of historiographical innovation.” The conclusion elaborates on the heuristic potential of a multiperspectival approach to the study of periodization in the history of international law.
Saepe stilum vertas,
iterum quae digna legi sunt scripturus
Hor., Sat. 1, 10, 72
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