The essay examines some of the changes in my own thinking about the politics of engaging in international law since the original publication of the article that opened the fi rst issue of EJIL in 1990. The essay points to the change of focus from indeterminacy (to which I am as committed as ever) of legal arguments to the structural biases of international institutions. It then discusses the politics of defi nition, that is to say, the strategic practice of defi ning international situations and problems in new expert languages so as to gain control over them. It attacks the increasing ‘ managerialism ’ in the fi eld and ends with a few refl ections about the signifi cance of the moment of the establishment of the Journal 20 years ago.
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