Event

Essex Public International Law Lecture: Capitalism as Civilisation

  • Mon 15 Feb 21

    11:00 - 12:00

  • Online

  • Event speaker

    Dr Ntina Tzouvala

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Public International Law Lecture

  • Event organiser

    Law, School of

Please join us for the latest instalment of the Essex Public International Law Lecture Series.


The Essex Public International Law Lecture Series welcomes you to to the third instalment presented by Dr Ntina Tzouvala, Senior Lecturer, Australian National University and chaired by Dr Emily Jones from the School of Law at the University of Essex.

About the lecture 

The "standard of civilisation" is often considered a historically important but currently irrelevant concept of international law. In this talk, I suggest that this optimistic narrative is misguided. I suggest that "civilisation" has never been a unitary concept subject to a specific definition. Rather, I approach it as the encapsulation of a much more fundamental and enduring argumentative pattern, one that constantly oscillates between two logics. One the one hand, a certain 'logic of improvement' promises equal rights and duties under international law provided that non-Western political communities transform themselves according to the changing imperatives of capitalism modernity. On the other, an opposing 'logic of biology' perpetually defers this promise of equal inclusion based on ideas of unbridgeable difference. Revisiting the indeterminacy thesis in international law, I argue that international law's constant oscillation between these two logics is reflective of the fact that the discipline reflects capitalism's tendency for uneven and combined development without being able to authoritatively resolve it.

About the speaker

Ntina joined the ANU College of Law as a Senior Lecturer in July 2020. Prior to this appointment she was an ARC Laureate Postdoctoral Fellow at Melbourne Law School. She obtained her PhD from Durham Law School (UK) in 2016 where she was also a Lecturer.

Her work focuses on the political economy, history and theory of international law. She is especially interested in historical materialism, deconstruction, feminist and queer legal theory.  Her first monograph, Capitalism as Civilisation: A History of International Law, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. 

Ntina is a member of the editorial collective of the Third World Approaches to International Law Review. In early 2020, she was appointed Senior Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. 

About the Essex Public International Law Lecture Series

The Essex Public International Law lecture series is founded, hosted and co-chaired by Dr Meagan Wong and Dr Emily Jones based in the School of Law. This is a weekly lecture series featuring judges of international courts and tribunals, leading academics, and practitioners of international law from governmental service, international organizations, and private practice from across the globe. The series prides itself on building on two important intellectual traditions of international law: formalism and international legal practice, and international legal theory including postcolonial and feminist perspectives. 

We welcome all students, academics, practitioners and legal advisors to join us. 

How to register

You can register here for the event which will be held on zoom.

For further information

Please contact Dr Meagan Wong, meagan.wong@essex.ac.uk and Dr Emily Jones, e.jones@essex.ac.uk.

Co-convenors