International law does not exist in a vacuum. It is a product of particular historical and ideological circumstances, and it creates effects in the world only through interaction with its societal and political context. This course will situate international law in this context. It will focus on examples of concrete international legal norms and institutions to help us understand how they have come about, what structures, actors, and ideas lie behind them, what impact they have in the world, and who benefits and who loses from them. The course seeks to familiarize us with literature about international law in related disciplines - history, politics, sociology, anthropology - and it will introduce different theoretical perspectives, ranging from approaches grounded in rational choice and constructivist international relations to critical legal studies, Marxism, postcolonialism and feminism. The course is designed to provide an overview over different ways of reading and studying international law and to enable students to develop their own approach to the field.