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Comparative MattersThe Renaissance of Comparative Constitutional Law$
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Ran Hirschl

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198714514

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714514.001.0001

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How Universal is Comparative Constitutional Law?

How Universal is Comparative Constitutional Law?

Chapter:
(p.192) 5 How Universal is Comparative Constitutional Law?
Source:
Comparative Matters
Author(s):

Ran Hirschl

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714514.003.0006

This chapter addresses issues central to comparative constitutional law’s epistemological and methodological domain. First, the possibility of comparisons of constitutional law and institutions across time and space, notably between “universalists,” who emphasize common elements of legal (and constitutional) systems across time and place, and “particularists” who emphasize the unique nature of any given legal (and constitutional) system. “Third way” alternatives such as constitutional pluralism are also examined. Second, the “global south” critique in comparative constitutional law, or how truly “comparative,” universal, or generalizable are the lessons of a body of knowledge that draws almost exclusively on a small—not necessarily representative—set of frequently studied jurisdictions and court rulings to advance what is portrayed as generic and universally applicable prescriptions. The global south critique poses major challenges to contemporary comparative constitutional inquiry but has its own analytical challenges. Examples include South Africa, India, and the European Court of Human Rights.

Keywords:   global south, particularism, universalism, comparative constitutional law, constitutional pluralism, South Africa, European Court of Human Rights, India

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