Offices of the Southern Jurist-Diplomat

Adil Hasan Khan, McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow
Shaun McVeigh, Associate Professor
Sundhya Pahuja, Professor and IILAH Director


Jahangir investing a courtier with a robe of honour watched by Sir Thomas Roe,
English ambassador to the court of Jahangir at Agra from 1615-18.

This ongoing project engages with the problem of how jurists, and international lawyers in particular, might conduct themselves (ourselves), ethically in our times, sometimes thought of as a moment of ‘global crisis’.  To do this we take up the ‘conduct of life’ tradition emerging out of sustained engagements between indigenous jurists, feminist historians and common law jurists in Melbourne, and puts them into relation with scholarship on connected histories and new diplomatic histories.

Through this tradition, we can think of diplomats as jurists, and jurists as diplomats, and the role of both as enabling the conduct “lawful encounters” [Genovese & McVeigh] between different peoples and their laws.

By attending to the long ‘Southern histories’ of such encounters, the project aims at fostering a training for contemporary jurists in how to foster meetings between peoples and their laws which accord the other, and their law, dignity.  As a question of diplomacy, we could think of this as the inter-public work required for meeting well.

The South, in this approach, is not just a site for the practice of lawlessness, unlawfulness and incommensurability, but one that has generated a multitude of “laws of encounter” [Pahuja], attending to which has become a most urgent task today with the crisis of a particular ‘provincial’ international law and its projects of worldmaking.

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