Nation-Building in the Penumbra: Notes from a Liminal State

22 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2017

See all articles by Monica E. Eppinger

Monica E. Eppinger

Saint Louis University - School of Law; Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Date Written: 2009


The emergence of post-Socialist legal orders is reshaping some of the familiar terrain of comparative legal studies. This Article, invited as part of an effort to think about the topic of "What the Rest think of the West," reconsiders the vast legal re-codification projects that stand at the center of "nation-building" projects in formerly Socialist states. Such projects, and the rupture from which they emerge, challenge essentialist or static notions of identity and assumptions of where the West is or where the Rest begin. Anthropological concepts of "liminality" and "deixis" assist in understanding Ukrainian legal experts' thinking on legal reforms conducted under the banner of Europeanization. An ambivalent recognition of the potential for Western hegemony is counterpoised with an awareness of the power for the margins to change Europe at its center. "Europe," in legal practice, is reconceived as a performance space for the present and a conceptual marker of an open future. The study of Ukrainian legal projects in a Europeanization mode may lend broader insight into the role of law in other projects of nation-building; strengths and fragilities of Europe itself; and the work that temporality performs for legal actors negotiating freighted political-economic and geopolitical frameworks.

Keywords: comparative law, legal reform, nation-building, law and development, land privatization, Europe, European Union, Ukraine, hegemony, power, temporality

Suggested Citation

Eppinger, Monica E., Nation-Building in the Penumbra: Notes from a Liminal State (2009). Hastings International and Comparative Law Review, Vol. 32, No. 2, 2009, Available at SSRN:

Monica E. Eppinger (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University - School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States

Department of Sociology and Anthropology ( email )

220 North Grand Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63103
United States

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