16 März 2012

Modern Imperialism and the Secularisation of International Law

On Monday, 19 March, historian, philosopher and lawyer Mark Somos (2011-2012 Rechtskulturen Fellow at Humboldt University Law School) will talk in Recht im Kontext‘s Rechtskulturen Colloquium about Modern Imperialism and the Secularisation of International Law. His paper deals with „the forgotten contingency of secularisation“:

One reason why we fail to prevent and resolve both domestic and international conflict is that Western political and legal concepts are not only secular, but were designed to be blind to religion. The primary obstacle to preventing conflict is persistent, but rectifiable ignorance of history. From the fourth to the seventeenth century, Christian theology underpinned all aspects of thought, from the natural sciences to international law. As the Reformation eroded doctrinal monopoly, much of European thought broke down. Secularisation is the process whereby, in search of common ground, Europe’s world-view was rebuilt without theology. Commercial and colonial imperialism spread and imposed secular norms around the world, sometimes with stabilising effect. However, the historical contingency of secularisation is now forgotten, and “Westphalian” norms are considered universal. Had it not been tragic, it would be ironic to note the contrast of this outcome with pacifism, the driving force behind secularisation as a historical process. Perhaps the most important subject to address in the social sciences today is this systemic cause of conflict: the forgotten contingency of secularisation. (Mark Somos)

Samantha Besson (Université de Fribourg, Switzerland) and Miloš Vec (Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt/Main), both fellows at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, have agreed to serve as commentators.

Foto: Yale Law Library, flickr creative commons


SUGGESTED CITATION  Kemmerer, Alexandra: Modern Imperialism and the Secularisation of International Law, VerfBlog, 2012/3/16, https://verfassungsblog.de/modern-imperialism-secularisation-international-law/, DOI: 10.17176/20170505-102035.

Leave A Comment


1. We welcome your comments but you do so as our guest. Please note that we will exercise our property rights to make sure that Verfassungsblog remains a safe and attractive place for everyone. Your comment will not appear immediately but will be moderated by us. Just as with posts, we make a choice. That means not all submitted comments will be published.

2. We expect comments to be matter-of-fact, on-topic and free of sarcasm, innuendo and ad personam arguments.

3. Racist, sexist and otherwise discriminatory comments will not be published.

4. Comments under pseudonym are allowed but a valid email address is obligatory. The use of more than one pseudonym is not allowed.

Explore posts related to this:
Internationales Recht, Rechtsgeschichte, Rechtskulturen, Rechtswissenschaft

Other posts about this region: