International & Comparative Law eJournal: September 19

This week’s issue of SSRN’s Law & Society: International & Comparative Law eJournal includes:

“Uncharismatic Revolutionary Constitutionalism” by Stephen Gardbaum. 

A reasonably familiar type of constitutionalist revolution is the one engineered and led by a charismatic hero and movement-party whose political legitimacy has been earned through long years of struggle and sacrifice on behalf of the people against the old regime. Think Gandhi, Nehru and the Indian National Congress; Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress; Lech Walesa and Solidarity. This type is brilliantly analyzed and its developmental stages identified through a series of in-depth case studies in Bruce Ackerman’s recent book, Revolutionary Constitutions: Charismatic Leaders and the Rule of Law.

This chapter considers a second, less heralded but no less common, type of revolutionary constitutionalism: the spontaneous, leaderless or movement-less one. Prominent examples of such successful “uncharismatic” revolutions over the past century include the Mexican (1910-1920), the Philippine (1986), the Romanian (1989), and the Tunisian (2011). It argues that this second type of revolutionary constitutionalism typically faces a quite different legitimacy crisis than the first, and at a much earlier time: during the revolutionary turmoil rather than via a succession crisis a generation later. It also suggests the potential alternative sources of such necessary legitimacy. Finally, it compares the role of the judiciary in charismatic and non-charismatic regimes. By adding an additional layer to the topic of revolutionary constitutionalism, the chapter seeks to further our understanding of the revolutionary mode as a whole and its interconnections with the other pathways to constitutionalism.


“Reflections on the Christchurch Massacre: Incorporating a Critique of Islamophobia and TWAIL” by Cyra Akila Choudhury. 

On March 15, 2019 in Christchurch, New Zealand, a white supremacist entered a mosque full of worshippers and gunned down over 50 people. In the wake of that massacre, Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, called for a global war against racism. This essay contextualizes that call and centralizes the ongoing struggle against racism, imperialism and white supremacy by peoples of the Global South for the last 500 years. The essay further examines the use of national security as means of regulating people of color and the complicity of the postcolonial state in advancing the discourse and practices of national security regimes. It suggests that the analysis that the study of Islamophobia offers should be incorporated into the Third World Approaches to International Law framework to better illuminate the current violence in majority Muslim states and against Muslim minorities.

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