The Unforgiven Sources of International Law: Nation-Building, Violence, and Gender in the West(Ern)
INTERNATIONAL LAW: MODERN FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES, Doris Buss and Ambreena Maji, eds., Oxford: Hart Publishing, Forthcoming
24 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2004
New scholarship in international law has begun to explore the extent to which the discipline is grounded as deeply in the realms of subjectivity and imagination as in the fields of state systems, rationality and facts. In this vein, we take seriously the intersection of law and popular culture, and explore the narratives that locate and give meaning to international law. We turn to the Western genre as a source of insight about the nomos of law and of the international. The cinematic Western is one of our nomos' most prolific and powerful genres for the exploration of law's origins, nation, sovereignty, masculinity and violence. We offer a reading of Clint Eastwood's 1992 film Unforgiven in conjunction with a theoretical account of law's foundation, and contemporary debates over calls for intervention into the affairs of sovereign states. Unforgiven draws our attention to the many erasures still at work in our conceptions of law, violence and gender. It helps us to identify the exclusions operating at 'the source' in the stories we believe about the origins of law, whether in the mythic past of the American West, or in the mythic future of a 'liberated' Iraq.
Keywords: International law, justice, jurisprudence, gender, humanitarian intervention, popular culture
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