Mohammad (Shahab) Shahabuddin seminar

‘Ethnicity and International Law: Histories, Politics and Practices’

25 January 2018


The development of international law since the nineteenth century is characterised by the inherent tension between the liberal and conservative traditions of dealing with what might be termed the ‘problem’ of ethnicity. Ethnicity and International Law argues that the present-day hesitancy of liberal international law to engage with ethnicity in ethnic conflicts and ethnic minorities has its roots in these conflicting philosophical traditions. The role of ethnicity in the political organization of postcolonial statehood is even more complicated. Nation-building projects in most postcolonial states faced the challenge of reconciling two diverging forces: ethnic nationalism that served as the vehicle of liberation movements against colonial rule, and post-WWII ‘liberal universalism’ that offered a post-ethnic template for the internal organization of postcolonial states. The dual treatment of ethnicity underscores the deep, enduring crisis of postcolonial statehood and its problematic engagement with international law.

Speaker Biography

Mohammad (Shahab) Shahabuddin is a Senior Lecturer at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham. Prior to joining Birmingham, he served Keele University as a Lecturer in Law, Yokohama National University (Japan) as a Visiting Professor of International Law, and Jahangirnagar University (Bangladesh) as the founding chair of its Department of Law and Justice. He was a Junior Faculty for Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global law and Policy (IGLP) Workshop from 2011 to 2017. Shahab completed PhD in law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is the author of Ethnicity and International Law: Histories, Politics, and Practices (Cambridge University Press, 2016).