Kent PhD scholars launch critical international law podcast

Kent Law School PhD scholars Ahmed Memon and Eric Loefflad have launched a critical international law podcast on Soundcloud called Fool’s Utopia.

Fool’s Utopia, now the official podcast for the Law School’s Centre for Critical International Law (CeCIL), aims to offer more nuanced, layered and multi-dimensional perspectives on international law.

Ahmed said the idea arose from a shared love of a political podcast show called Chapo Trap House: ‘Eric shared an episode of the show about Syria intervention and international law on his Facebook feed. That started a conversation about how we thought the show, while being witty, funny and informative, had misrepresented international law as we understand it.’

After sharing their idea with CeCIL Director Dr Luis Eslava, Ahmed and Eric were encouraged to approach CSR FM (Canterbury’s student radio). As well as giving them studio space to record their weekly podcasts in the Student Media Centre on Kent’s Canterbury campus, CSR FM air the episodes every Monday at 10pm.

Ahmed said: ‘Our first two episodes (Is International Law for Babies and Subjects of the Machine) have been on colonial origins of international law, who defines what it is and why that matters, on subjects of international law. We will be covering in the future in greater detail Marxism and international law, decolonial approaches in international law, historical moments, history writing in international law.’

The third episode of the podcast, CeCIL and the Rhodes Professor, features an interview with Professor Richard Drayton, who delivered the CeCIL Annual Lecture at Kent in November. Ahmed and Eric plan to interview more invited guests throughout the coming year.

Eric said the podcast name, Fool’s Utopia, came about after a prolonged discussion on how to strike the difficult balance between being accessible to a broad audience while embodying the idea of critical international law: ‘In addressing this quandary I sought the counsel of my friend, colleague, and multiple CeCIL visitor Ioannis Kalpouzos of City University London. One idea he came up with was ‘Full Utopia’, which I really liked. I then ran this past Ahmed who, due to my particular Northeastern Pennsylvania accent, heard ‘Fool’s Utopia’ and we decided we liked that even better. The term ‘Utopia’, has a strong meaning for international lawyers in that so much of the field is dedicated to the pursuit of universal justice beyond the reach of any individual nation-state. However, much of the work done at CeCIL approaches this optimism with a more critical lens that focuses on things such as hypocrisy, past injustices, and the need to account for the experiences of the marginalised. As such, the podcast title could not be more appropriate in that it is our take that if you are not self-reflective in dreaming of, and attempting to implement, a ‘Utopia’, then ‘Fool’ could be an all too fitting designation.’