Biography

Adriana Sinclair’s research explores the ways in which international relations and international law – and our understandings of them – intertwine. Her first book explored how IR theory understands international law and why we need a far more critical understanding of how international law operates (link to Sinclair 2010). Her recent work on the agency and ontology of international law seeks to further clarify what international law really is and what kind of power it possesses (link to Sinclair 2020). Finally, in her work with Alexander Brown, she has used her knowledge of the nexus of international relations and international law to shine a light on how and why the international norm against hate speech emerged. Unusually, the international realm and the activism of the UN was a significant driver of change, challenging the usual assumption that normative development happens within states and then radiates out to the international level (link to Brown and Sinclair 2019).

 

In ‘Why we should see international law as a structure: unpicking international law’s ontology and agency’ Sinclair argues that our most common understandings of international law are reluctant to see international law as doing anything more than enabling the operation of other actors, forces or structures. Rather, we should see international law as a structure because it possesses both the surface structure of rules, principles, processes, personnel and material elements of the international legal system and a deep structure of values that sits deep within our subconscious. When we do so, we can see how international law locates actors within a social hierarchy and how it behaves in similar ways to recognised structures like capitalism and racism.

Forthcoming in International Relations (2020)

 

Publications

Sinclair, A. (forthcoming 2020) ‘Why we should see international law as a structure: unpicking international law’s ontology and agency’ International Relations.

Brown, A. and A. Sinclair (2019) The Politics of Hate Speech Laws (Abingdon: Routledge).

Sinclair, A. (2010) International Relations Theory and International Law: A Critical Approach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)

Career

International Relations Theory and International Law: A Critical Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2010) A Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2011 - Winner "Very few books manage to simultaneously make a serious intellectual contribution to knowledge in a discipline and be accessible enough to serve as an introductory-level book, but this volume by Sinclair (Univ. of East Anglia, UK) does both well. Sinclair returns constructivism to its roots (i.e., Nicholas Onuf and Friedrich Kratochwil) in theorizing rules, rule, and the intersubjectivity of law, and then applies that approach to current critical legal theorizing about international law. The result is a marriage of international relations and international law theorizing that strengthens both. The empirical part of the book then uses three cases (Brown v. Board of Education in the US, rape law reform in the UK, and post-9/11 torture jurisprudence) to demonstrate the utility of such a lens for understanding international law. The critical rethinking of these "common sense" cases in this book is easy to read but transformative. The book concludes by theorizing law as social (and the social as law) in an important, innovative, and accessible way. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduate students and above."-- L. E. Sjoberg, University of Florida

Academic Background

B.A. Hons Politics with French; University of Warwick (2000)

M.Sc.Econ International Politics; University of Wales, Aberystwyth (2001)

Ph.D. International Politics; University of Wales, Aberystwyth (2005)

 

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