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Law, Culture and the International - LAWS8067

Faculty: Faculty of Law
School:  Faculty of Law
Course Outline: See below
Campus: Kensington Campus
Career: Postgraduate
Units of Credit: 6
EFTSL: 0.12500 (more info)
Indicative Contact Hours per Week: 2
Enrolment Requirements:
Pre-requisite: Academic Program must be 9200 or 9210 or 9230 or 5740 or 9220 or 5750 or 9211 or 5211.
Excluded: JURD7367
CSS Contribution Charge:Band 3 (more info)
Further Information: See Class Timetable


This class examines the relationships between domestic and international law, the international/global arena, and the politics of cultural formation and identity. What will be stressed is that these relationships are constitutive and highly politicized. An underlying theme will be that law does not operate in a contextual vacuum, and cultural meanings and values play a significant role in shaping the positive and negative dimensions of international law and development as it impacts individuals and communities in localized settings. At the same time, how does culture and cultural identity get defined in the context of international law, particularly in connection to the production, mobilization and implementation of human rights and development practices? Drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives and recent scholarship in cultural studies, anthropology and sociology, the class will engage in contemporary debates informing the cultural dimensions of the international as constituted through national, regional and local legal systems of meaning.

LLM Specialisation

Recommended Prior Knowledge

You should have a basic knowledge of international law. If you have not studied public international law, you should familiarize yourself with its principles through reading a textbook. Examples include:

•Antonio Cassese (2005) International Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

•Gillian Triggs (2006) International Law: Contemporary Principles and Practices. Lexis Nexis/Butterworths.

Course Objectives

A candidate who has successfully completed the subject should:
  • Understand and be able to critically interrogate the concept of “culture”
  • Understand the historical links between cultural constructions of others and practices of law and politics in domestic and international jurisdictions
  • Understand how discourses of human rights, international policy and development practices operate as cultural processes
  • Integrate recent scholarship in the area of cultural studies within the existing frameworks of international law
  • Have the capacity to articulate his/her knowledge and understanding in oral and written presentations

Main Topics

  • Thinking about the relationship between law and culture
  • Constructing the international legal arena
  • Exploring the limits of the international legal arena
  • Laws, cultures and the international in the 21st century


Research Essay (5,000 – 7,000 words) 70%
Class presentation 20%
Class participation 10%

Course Texts

  • Paul Wl Kahn (1999) The Cultural Study of Law. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Required reading materials obtainable at the UNSW Bookshop.
Refer to the Course Outline provided by the lecturer prior to the start of the relevant semester.


Refer to the Course Outline provided by the lecturer prior to the start of the relevant semester.

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© The University of New South Wales (CRICOS Provider No.: 00098G), 2004-2011. The information contained in this Handbook is indicative only. While every effort is made to keep this information up-to-date, the University reserves the right to discontinue or vary arrangements, programs and courses at any time without notice and at its discretion. While the University will try to avoid or minimise any inconvenience, changes may also be made to programs, courses and staff after enrolment. The University may also set limits on the number of students in a course.