Governmental Illegitimacy and Neocolonialism: Response to Review by James Thuo Gathii

The essence of James Thuo Gathii’s criticism of Governmental Illegitimacy in International Law is that my study seeks to answer a doctrinal question rather than to challenge the “Eurocentric” assumptions that pervade doctrinal thinking. Although I (inevitably) take exception to some of Professor Gathii’s characterizations of the book’s details, an elaborate clarification and defense of these finer points would amount to an uninteresting response to an interesting essay. Indeed, since Gathii characterizes the book as “well written, well-argued, and well-researched,” and since I am in sympathy with the considerations that prompt him to go beyond the scope of what I sought to accomplish, I am tempted to treat Gathii’s essay as a complement (as well as, in many respects, a compliment) to my book, and therefore to leave well enough alone. I nonetheless accept the Michigan Law Review’s invitation to respond, in order to confront directly the political challenge that Gathii, as a participant in the scholarly current of “critical” approaches to international law, poses to my more traditional brand of legal scholarship. Above all, I want to contest the relationship that Gathii posits between disciplinary methodology and political substance.