Anne Orford masterclass: Critical theory and legal scholarship

Photo of  "House of Knowledge", sculpture by Jaume Plensa on Bourse's Square in Bordeaux, France.

Event details


Date & time

Wednesday 18 November 2015


Seminar Room 1.04, Coombs Extension Building (8), Fellows Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Professor Anne Orford


Julia Wee
+61 (0)2 6125 3948

This masterclass will explore the role of critical theory in legal scholarship.

For legal scholars, as for many other social scientists, the relation between the critical scholar, the knowledge we produce, and the object of that knowledge is a complicated and contested one.

The class will aim to unsettle a tendency in critical legal scholarship to take as given theoretical models that were formulated as critical interventions in other times and places, without paying sufficient attention to thinking about the relevance of those models for the concrete situation that the scholar is trying to grasp.

Throughout the discussion, participants will be asked to reflect upon how these methodological questions relate to their own work.

Preparatory Readings

  • Anne Orford, ‘In Praise of Description’ (2012) 25 Leiden Journal of International Law 609-625

  • Max Horkheimer, ‘Traditional and Critical Theory’ (1937) in Critical Theory: Selected Essays (New York: Continuum, 2002), 188-243.

  • Anne Orford, ‘Scientific Reason and the Discipline of International Law’ (2014) 25 European Journal of International Law 369-385

Please contact Julia Wee if you are unable to access these readings.

About the Speaker

Anne Orford is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor and Michael D Kirby Chair of International Law at Melbourne Law School. She has been awarded the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship for 2015-2020 by the Australian Research Council to undertake a project on ‘Civil War, Intervention, and International Law’.

She is a founding co-convenor of the Annual Junior Faculty Forum for International Law, a past President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law, and the founding Director of the Institute for International Law and the Humanities at Melbourne Law School.

Her publications include International Authority and the Responsibility to Protect (CUP 2011), Reading Humanitarian Intervention (CUP 2003), the edited collection International Law and its Others (CUP 2006), and, as co-editor, The Oxford Handbook of the Theory of International Law (OUP, forthcoming March 2016).

She holds the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa from Lund University (2012) and the University of Gothenburg (2012), and was awarded the Woodward Medal for Excellence in Humanities and Social Sciences by the University of Melbourne (2013).

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