In the period leading from World War I to the establishment of the mandate system, a range of actors were involved in negotiating the post-war reordering of Ottoman territories. What were for these actors the concrete spatial structures by which they imagined and negotiated a new world order in this area? To answer this question, the seminar followed a trail of legal and diplomatic documents from the period that still influence political discourse in the Middle East today. It uncovered in them a forgotten regional moment of international law in the Middle East, a moment in which ‘the region’ was not yet divided into separate jurisdictions behaving according to the prediction of a realist theory of international law. Instead, it was being constructed by the expression of different layers of territorial landscapes, ‘mental maps’ of political possibilities for restructuring vast, non-sovereign and extra-nation-state territoriality.
Karin Loevy is the manager of the JSD Program at NYU School of Law and a research scholar at the Institute for International Law and Justice (IILJ). Her book, Emergencies in Public Law: The Legal Politics of Containment, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2016. As a Kathleen Fitzpatrick Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow with the Laureate Program in International Law, she is working on her new book project on the history of international law in the Middle East in the period leading to the mandate system (1915–1923).