Introduction to ethnography for international lawyers

June 21, 2022

In recent years, the study of international law has evolved beyond pure doctrinal research and now encompasses a variety of empirical methods, often borrowing from other social sciences. One such method, perhaps the least explored, is ethnography. Through direct participant-observation of international institutions, scholars can better understand their inner dynamics and unravel the construction of legal outcomes in the global world.

In this video series, realized in collaboration with the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Prof. Tommaso Soave introduces international law academics to the promises and challenges of the ethnographic method. After briefly presenting the foundational concepts of ethnography, he discusses its potential contributions to international legal scholarship and the methodological issues that arise from participant-observation. The last video invites viewers to try their hand at ethnographic fieldwork by watching the video footage of a hearing at the International Court of Justice.