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James Lorimer and the character of sovereigns: the Institutes as 21st century treatise

Simpson, Gerry (2016) James Lorimer and the character of sovereigns: the Institutes as 21st century treatise. European Journal of International Law, 27 (2). pp. 431-446. ISSN 0938-5428

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Identification Number: 10.1093/ejil/chw023


In Vienna, Freud is completing his medical degree just as James Lorimer, in Edinburgh, is polishing his Institutes of the Law of Nations. I suppose the overall claim might be that Lorimer’s Institutes represents one sort of unwritten, ‘unwriteable’ textbook for our own time – international law’s uncivilized unconscious speaking to us from the late 19th century. More specifically, and because I am the only Scot writing as part of this symposium, I will begin by placing Lorimer in the cultural and political frame of late 19th-century Scotland. Then I will take a look at the state, or, in particular, the not-quite-fully sovereign state, and the way it preoccupied the late 19th-century legal imagination and continues to do so today, albeit in a more obscure manner. Finally, I will conclude with some thoughts on Lorimer as a 21st-century scholar of war and peace.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Law
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2016 14:02
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 02:11

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