Introduction: 'The C Word'
Ran Hirschl, Comparative Matters: The Renaissance of Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press, October 2014)
23 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2015
Date Written: June 24, 2015
Comparative study has emerged as the new frontier of constitutional law scholarship as well as an important aspect of constitutional adjudication. Increasingly, jurists, scholars, and constitution drafters worldwide are accepting that ‘we are all comparativists now’. And yet, despite this tremendous renaissance, the ‘comparative’ dimension of the enterprise, as a method and a project, remains under-theorized and blurry. In this book, I address this gap by charting the intellectual history and analytical underpinnings of comparative constitutional inquiry, probing the various types, aims, and methodologies of engagement with the constitutive laws of others through the ages, and exploring how and why comparative constitutional inquiry has been and ought to be pursued by academics and jurists worldwide. Through an extensive exploration of comparative constitutional endeavors past and present, near and far, I show how attitudes towards engagement with the constitutive laws of others reflect tensions between particularism and universalism as well as competing visions of who “we” are as a political community. Drawing on social theory, religion, political science and public law, I argue for an interdisciplinary approach to comparative constitutionalism that is methodologically and substantively preferable to merely doctrinal accounts. The future of comparative constitutional studies lies in relaxing the sharp divide between constitutional law and the social sciences.
Keywords: Comparative law, public law, comparative constitutional law, intellectual history, methodology and epistemology
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