Bluntschli, c’est moi? International legal history and hagiography

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Hagiography comprises idealised biographical histories of religious, political, cultural, and academic figures. While often centring on character, they also record academic accomplishments that evidence a person's worth as an exemplar. Critically, academic hagiographies are central to canon creation. This article investigates if hagiographical tendencies within international legal history authenticates the modern depiction of the international lawyer akin to the form of the nineteenth century white male intellectual. The article asks whether there is a role for (anti)hagiography to establish sites of personal identification. Within international law, the historical turn studies both the role of international law in global histories and the discipline, but the turn can be explained as a form of canon creation, within which hagiography plays a role, and within that, processes of aphasia, intentional forgetting, and international legal silences. This article reflects on hagiography as an unacknowledged international legal historiographic methodology and sets out a nine-part method for establishing an (anti)hagiographic approach to personal identification with the canon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-102
Number of pages35
JournalTransnational Legal Theory
Issue number1
Early online date02 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2024


  • International Law
  • Hagiography
  • Feminism
  • colonialism
  • Legal History


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