Research Paper Number



Mai Taha

Document Type


Publication Date



colonialism; Decolonization; imperialism; International law; League of Nations; Legal History; Mark Mazower; self-determination; United Nations


Mark Mazower’s latest book, No Enchanted Palace: The End of Empire and the Ideological Origins of the United Nations intelligently weaves in the League of Nations as the primary informant of the United Nations to deconstruct any claims of discontinuities between the two institutions. In doing so, Mazower offers an eloquent polemic against the literature's tendency to idolize the United Nations’ founding as a symbolic and material break from empire. Exploring the dark sides of its intellectual origins and early years, however, Mazower points to the decolonization movement to argue for the potential of the United Nations as a site of emancipatory struggle – his book concludes with a reinvestment in its promise of a more inclusive and just world order. The issue left to the reader, and which I hope to address in this review essay, is the legitimacy of Mazower’s claim that the United Nations has indeed escaped its imperial heritage.