The politics of extraterritoriality: a historical sociology of public international law

Pal, Maia (2013) The politics of extraterritoriality: a historical sociology of public international law. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This dissertation develops a historical and theoretical reconstruction of the category and praxis of extraterritoriality in the fields of International Relations and Public International Law. The analysis first addresses the dominant Neo-Liberal tradition and its focus on the concept of ‘judicial globalisation’, before engaging with critical and Marxist studies that rely on imperialism and capitalism as explanatory phenomena.

In response, the thesis argues that extraterritoriality is a political process, covering a set of jurisdictional struggles determined by contested social property relations. As legal strategies of accumulation, these struggles can neither be explained by a chronologically and discursively progressive deterritorialising world order, through which they emerge as depoliticised events, nor by structural and functional theories of capitalist or Western imperialism that narrowly assume their logic and behaviour.

This argument emerges from the analysis of three historical case studies: 16th to 17th century Spain, 17th to 18th century France, and 19th century Britain. Each case, set in its international context, evinces the role of specific intellectual debates, juridical institutions and legal strategies of accumulation in shaping contending extraterritorial regimes and legal world orders.

Thereby, the thesis reformulates a Political Marxist approach as a historical sociology that places the actors and politics of international legal processes at the forefront of the history of Public International Law. This approach enables a non-determinist understanding of contemporary extraterritoriality. It dissociates its analysis from a naturalised history of judicial globalisation and from a monolithic history of capitalism, to resituate extraterritorial practices in a more open and contested field in between those of International Relations and Public International Law.

In conclusion, examining the politics of extraterritoriality exposes Public International Law as a practical site of struggle between legal strategies of expansion, accumulation and resistance. This historical and theoretical reconstruction asserts the political legitimacy and agency of otherwise excluded legal actors and ideas, affected by and involved in the multiple transitions in the forms of sovereign jurisdiction and territorial control.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
K Law > K Law in General. Comparative and uniform Law. Jurisprudence > K0520 Comparative law. International uniform law
K Law > KZ Law of Nations
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2013 10:00
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 15:26

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