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32 N.Y.U. J. Int'l L. & Pol. 335 (1999-2000)
When Renewal Repeats: Thinking against the Box

handle is hein.journals/nyuilp32 and id is 345 raw text is: WHEN RENEWAL REPEATS: THINKING AGAINST
I should start by thanking the board of editors for inviting
me to contribute an essay to the journal's millennium issue.
The editors seek new thinking and ask what international
legal issues will consume your legal career and shape the pa-
rameters of international law in the new millennium? At
forty-five it is flattering to be solicited as a young voice with
new views, although in developing my reply I have wondered
if the editors share my ambivalence about calling for new
voices and fresh perspectives. There is something energetic,
optimistic, and open-minded in their call that really is excit-
ing, and I am pleased to have been asked to participate. At the
same time, it is hard to escape what seems an iron law of disci-
plinary renewal, routinizing this sort of energy, absorbing its
critical potential into a familiar disciplinary common sense.
The discipline of international law today is cheek by jowl with
people calling for new thinking and renewal, even as they offer
up the most shopworn ideas and initiatives. The occasion in-
vites thought about the role of novelty and innovation in the
field-what is it, how does it happen, how should it be valued?
As a teacher, I know I often have mixed motives in calling
for new thinking. There is a good faith pedagogic intent to
help students trust their own creative and critical impulse, to
be confident enough to speak differently. There is my own
mixed attitude toward the field-a conviction that we need
new thinking to survive and a simultaneous hope that innova-
tion will sweep the field away. A call for innovation can have a
disciplining aspect, the sadistic pleasure of challenging stu-
dents to innovate, calling the bluff in their resistance to estab-
lished wisdom. I suppose there is also an element of voyeur-
* Henry Shattuck Professor of Law, Harvard Law School. I would like
to thank Nathaniel Berman, David Chamy, Dan Danielsen, Karen Engle,Ja-
net Halley, Duncan Kennedy, Martti Koskenniemi, Alejandro Lorite, Hani
Sayed, and the editorial board of this journal for conversations about this

Imaged with the Permission of N.Y.U. Journal of International Law and Politics

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