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Appel à communication (<29/01/2016) : « The Legal Illegality of Empire : A Critique of European Imperial Conquest, Occupation and Colonial Possessions »(York College, CUNY, New-York, 27/05/2016)

mardi 13 octobre 2015, par Dominique Taurisson-Mouret

Distortions and the deformation of late capitalism have led our contemporary world into a cul-de-sac characterized by cycles of economic failure and depression. This crisis of capital has also witnessed increasing global economic inequalities that are unprecedented in human history. That policy and structure of the international political economy lie at the heart of the resultant complex social conflict of global proportions is not in question. What is, however, is the manner in which various manifestations of this conflict in trouble spots around the world from Afghanistan to Iraq ; from Egypt to Libya ; from Nigeria to Kenya ; and from Yemen to Pakistan, and elsewhere have been handled. Oppressive instruments of international military control, rather than social transformation of affected nations by addressing the developmental needs of citizens, have been the preferred response. This knee jerk fire-fighting has been inadequately complemented by multilateral and bilateral aid packages from the West, a raft of successive fiscal prescriptions from international financial institutions, band aid projects ran by non-governmental organizations and ameliorative operations by various United Nations agencies.

Unfortunately, security operations, peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding missions and unilateral military interventions as well as fiscal policies have not always, if at all, been informed by the historical depth of stark social reality. The glaring “inconvenient” details of this social reality, centuries in the making, do not bear on “solutions” that are resorted to. This seems to fly in the face of basic common sense that, if in a hole, the most practical first step to get out is to stop digging. This, with respect to intrastate conflicts (insurgencies, revolts, and wars of secession, ethnic conflict, civil wars, coups and racial or religious violence) sometimes experienced across states, strongly suggests the need for a critical examination of the structural and legal-policy foundations, and built-in or systematic inequalities, of the international political economy.

Indeed, major decision-makers and intellectuals should not pretend that the current state of affairs in the world with regard to international politics, international law and underdevelopment of developing nations has nothing to do with the international imperial system and colonialism that was hastily “discarded” and “replaced” by the present state system. But, unfortunately little if any research has been undertaken to directly connect intractable international social conflict to the legal illegality of the imperial system in which it was enough to either read the requerimiento, the written of sovereignty, as, not only an assertive statement of arrival into a foreign land, but also taking possession of it. Whereas such European colonial conquest, possession and exploitation was not illegal under international law prevalent then and since the Roman Empire until the advent of 20th century international law, contemporary inadequacies of the international political economy characterized by internal contradictions and inequalities created by capitalism warrant a critical assessment of the imperial system.

Yet there are some who are wont to ask equally pertinent questions : for instance, those who might argue, without colonial rule how would African slavery have been ended ? How would scientific medicine and education have otherwise been introduced ? Or, with regard to the early legal equality of African states in the field of international relations : would the kingdoms of Buganda and Asante, for instance, have been permitted membership of the League of Nations or, later, the United Nations ? These are questions of no less importance to this significant inquiry.

Abstracts addressing such questions including outright colonial exploitation that was recognized as illegal at the time like King Leopold’s “red rubber” in the Congo ; or, in 1922, forced labor for private profit in Kenya, as well as the overall illegality of the European imperial enterprise in any region of the world are invited for submission by Friday 29th January 2016. Accepted papers should be submitted by Friday 27th May 2016

Authors of interesting research papers completed by the given deadline will be invited to participate and present their work in seminar at the Department of History, West Virginia University in Fall 2016.

After the conference, revised and finalized papers addressing issues and concerns raised by the peer review process, and responses from seminar participants will be submitted by December 2016 for publication in an edited volume to be published by June 2017. Please send your abstracts and papers to : Dr. Nicholas K. Githuku, ngithuku chez [York College, CUNY].

Contact Info :
Department of History & Philosophy
York College, CUNY
94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
Queens, New York -11451

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