The early postcolonial works by C H Alexandrowicz R P Anand and T O Elias for

The early postcolonial works by c h alexandrowicz r p

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and categories to do this. The early postcolonial works by C. H. Alexandrowicz, R. P. Anand and T. O. Elias, for example, sought to correct the bias in the field by examining legal practices among Asian rulers and treaty relations between African communities even before the entry of the Europeans in those territories. 71 But as Onuma has pointed out, to the extent that they have been written in the vein of »they, too, had an international law«, they ended up once again projecting European categories as universal. 72 To argue that there was natural law in India, too, or diplomatic immunities in the Chinese realm, may – depending on the way the argument is laid out – finally turn out to support the universal nature of European categories or even its notorious standard of »civilization«, espe- cially if the argument is supplemented by the claim that the Euro- peans themselves had failed to respect it – for instance that when accepting large Hinterland claims in Africa, Europeans failed to live up to the criteria of effective occupation. The claim of hypocrisy here serves to reinforce the power of a notion of European origin. A subsequent generation of postcolonial critics have attacked the conceptual Eurocentrism embedded in such arguments. Anghie 168 Histories of International law: Dealing with Eurocentrism 19/2011 70 I. Hunter , »A Jus gentium for America«: Vattel in the Colonies, unpublished paper (2011). See al- so I. Hunter , Global Justice and Regional Metaphysics. On the Critical History of the Law of Nature and Nations, in: S. Dor- sett , I. Hunter , Law and Politics in British Colonial Thought: Transpositions of Empire, Basing- stoke 2010, 13–20. 71 See Alexandrowicz , An Intro- duction (n. 48); R. P. Anand , Studies in International law His- tory: An Asian Perspective, Leiden 2004; idem , Maritime Practice in South-East Asia until 1600 and Modern law of the Sea, in: R. P. Anand , International Law and the Developing Countries, Dordrecht 1987, 53–71; idem , Development of Modern International Law and India, Baden-Baden 2005; T. O. Elias , Africa and the Develop- ment of International Law, Leiden 1972. 72 Onuma , A Transcivilizational Perspective (n. 47) 182; idem , When was the Law of the Inter- national Society Born?, in: JHIL 2 (2000) 61.
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and a group of scholars around him have argued that international law has from the outset operated as an instrument of European expansion. For these critics, international law is imperialist all the way down; it is »fundamentally animated by the civilizing mission that is an inherent aspect of imperial expansion which, from time immemorial, has presented itself as improving the lives of con- quered peoples«. 73 If that is so, then any use of its categories – even a critical use – will be Eurocentric and there is no reason for pride if past indigenous institutions have resembled European ones. Those are corrupt institutions, instruments of domination and illegitimate control. Instead, what one needed to do is to attack the concepts and practices at their root, and to show their nature or historical (and present) uses as instruments of colonial oppression.
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