Endroits of planetary ordering violence, law, space, & capital in the diplomatic history of 19t...


If Derrida once praised English for the richness of the expression “to enforce the law,” in this article I return the favor and embrace the ambiguity of the French word endroit. While it means nothing more than place, I suggest one could draw from Benjamin’s work on dwelling to ponder on the meaning of being within the spaces of 19th century (counter) revolutionary internationalism. In this vein, I read Benjamin’s unfinished Arcades Project—and, in particular, its analysis of the rise of iron & glass architecture that accompanied the conquering bourgeois and the persistent aristocracy—to analyze the new built environments of the fin de siècle North Atlantic diplomacy. Despite the growing interest in the history of global governance, for historians and critical legal scholars alike, the spatial dimension of “the international” have been a largely unexplored affair. Conversely, I suggest Benjamin’s insistence on the materiality of architecture reminds us that international law’s castles were not built solely in the air. In this vein, I suggest one can trace a material history of the spaces in which revolutionary and counterrevolutionary internationalisms struggled to fashion a shell for themselves during Europe’s turbulent 19th century.