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Title: The liberal myth : foreigners' property rights and the making of modern world politics
Author: Wallenius, Tomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 7824
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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The thesis conceptualizes a new approach to the historical study of the global legal order. Instead of following an influential contextual approach focusing on understanding the works of great legal theorists, I analyze the relationship between legal thought and the global legal practices that constituted actually existing patterns of social order. The usual idea of legal practice needs however first be reimagined. A focus on the 'profession of international law' is too narrow. As often the most influential actors in legal practice were not lawyers but for example parliamentarians and diplomats. Second the conventional idea of a legal text needs to be reconceptualised. Drawing on literary theory, I argue that the historical significance of a legal text is constituted not only by the context of its writing but also through its reception and use by later practitioners. Moreover, legal texts are not constant but are often modified, even after the death of the original author, by later editors seeking to make the work useful for contemporary practitioners. This insight highlights a neglected and important alternative dynamic of legal change that first takes place through legal practice and is introduced to doctrine only afterwards. In this practice story, legal change predominantly takes place through practitioners pursuing their interests within broad bounds set by normative expectations rather than with the novel speculations of great thinkers. I have applied the new method to the case of foreigners' property rights. These rights are crucial as the legal frameworks that have enabled the growth of a global liberal economy through transnational trade and investment. The study of these rights has allowed me to challenge the conventional interpretation that Britain and the United States, as leading liberal democracies drawing on the liberal political thought of Locke, created a liberal international order through multilateral treaty making.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Osk. Huttunen Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International relations ; International law ; History of political thought