JSI Seminar Series: Time-Gaps and Time-Sequence in International Law

16 November 2017


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Speaker: Dr Deborah Whitehall, The University of Sydney

The past captivates international lawyers for reasons other than domestic lawyers find in precedent or parliamentary processes and involves not a turn to history, as might be apparent from the present fascination with the history-question, but rather a return to a time and place shared by international history. That last fact opens the box for this study to questions about how international law relates to international history. One line of response arises from rereading the political theory of Hannah Arendt and her thoughts about time-gaps and time-sequence. Her views arise from her vantage as a witness of the grand infamies of the twentieth-century: the crises of the nation-state; statelessness in Europe; revolution, world-war; totalitarianism; the Cold-War and, equally alarming for her, the new grip of mob mentality or mass culture across post-industrial society. She was also an observer and critic of the interventions of international law in each phenomenon. Her concepts of a time-gap and time-sequence lead international lawyers to new understanding not only about their part in international history but also highlight what difference they might make next.


About the Speaker

Deborah Whitehall joined the Sydney Law School in 2017. Her research considers the intellectual history of the twentieth century to reflect on the normative and institutional progressions of international law. Key thematic interests include French and German social thought and political theory after 1914; alternative histories of human rights; international legal theories and international legal histories.

Deborah was previously associate to the Hon. S.M. Kiefel AC, a solicitor at Mallesons Stephen Jaques, and a Principal Solicitor (Human Rights) for the Victorian government. She commenced her academic career as a lecturer of law at Monash University in 2014.

Oxford University Press will publish her book about Hannah Arendt and the alternative histories of human rights in 2018.


CPD Points: 2


Time: 6-8pm

Location: Common Room, Level 4, New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown, University of Sydney

Cost: Complimentary, however registration is essential.

Contact: Professional Learning & Community Engagement

Phone: 02 9351 0429

Email: 360635585c06150f263e13223231292f0e1f170d3a5d3742