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What is ‘natural’ in international law and who decides what is ‘natural’? In this workshop we will not only explore what international law represents as ‘the natural’, but also where ideas of what is natural come from, how international law naturalizes certain conditions and how it responds to changes of what social systems perceive to be ‘the natural’.

We will discuss whether appeals to the natural are productive and under what circumstances they should be used, or if they should be used at all in law and legal reasoning. In tackling these questions, we will build on scholarly work on how international law reflects and reproduces social conditions, how it transforms historical contingencies into inevitabilities and how it solidifies social hierarchies by naturalizing them (e.g., Baxi 1998; Bianchi & Hirsch 2021; Spain-Bradley 2021; Venzke & Heller 2021). We will focus our attention on three primary subject areas, namely the environment (Escobar 1999; Bandopadhyay 2022), the economy (Pistor 2019; Tzouvala 2020), and social order (Desautels-Stein 2021; Knop 2002).

Logistics: This two full-day (hopefully) in-person workshop will be held on September 8th & 9th 2022 at the University of Amsterdam. It will bring together 30 participants who will be invited to present their work in progress on the three primary themes of the workshop. Limited funding to cover travel and accommodation costs is available upon request and on a needs-basis.

Timeline:  Submit an abstract of no more than 300 words and a bio of 200-300 words by 6 May 2022. Selected participants will be notified by 20 May 2022 and invited to submit a 3,000- to 5,000-word draft paper by 15 August 2022.

Participants include Claire Cutler (University of Victoria), Justin Desautels-Stein (University of Colorado), Moshe Hirsch (University of Jerusalem), Emily Jones (University of Essex), Usha Natarajan (Columbia University), Anna Spain Bradley (UCLA), Ntina Tzouvala (Australian National University), Ingo Venzke (University of Amsterdam) and Fuad Zarbiyev (Graduate Institute, Geneva).

This is a joint event by Asia School of Business, the Amsterdam Center for International Law and the Graduate Institute Global Governance Centre. Convenors: Kevin Crow, Eliana Cusato & Lys Kulamadayil