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    The Vitorian recovery and the (re)turn towards a sacrificial international law

    Koram, Kojo (2018) The Vitorian recovery and the (re)turn towards a sacrificial international law. London Review of International Law 6 (3), pp. 443-470. ISSN 2050-6325.

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    Recent years have seen scholarly debate over the legacy of Francisco De Vitoria gain increasing prominence. The article offers a fresh perspective on this debate by historicizing the twentieth century recovery of Vitoria and reading it as a response to crisis of international order that faced jurists following the Great War. In the face of the failure of international law to restrain the outbreak of violence, the twentieth century recovery of Vitoria’s writings by Dr James Brown Scott and others reflected the desire to return to a jurisprudence orientated towards the production of community. Coinciding with the decline of the imperial order of the world, Vitoria and his twentieth century recovery are often celebrated as examples of the turn towards universal humanism. However, this article offers a new lens through which to understand the way in which Vitoria’s inclusive/exclusion of the colonial subject was recovered by twentieth century international law in order to operate as sacrificial, in the manner theorised by philosophical anthropologist René Girard. This argument refers to the way in which the Vitorian model for international law corresponds with Girard’s understanding of community production through a sacred, legitimizing violence. The interior/exterior positionality that Girard mandates as necessary for the scapegoat to exorcise the intra-communal violence marries with Vitoria’s inclusion of the colonial subject in a condition of primary exclusion. By synthesising Girard’s scapegoat mechanism and Vitoria’s universal juridical schema, this article illuminates the extent to which the communality of international law produced through the twentieth century recovery of Vitoria remains indebted to an imperial, sacrificial violence.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication following peer review. The version of record is available online at the link above.
    School: School of Law > Law
    Depositing User: Kojo Koram
    Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2018 14:20
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 12:52


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