Kennedy, Duncan

On December 7, 2011, Sciences Po granted the award doctorate honoris causa to Duncan Kennedy, professor at the Harvard Law School, whose application was supported by the Law School.

After earning a degree in economics at the University of Harvard, Duncan Kennedy pursued legal studies at Yale University and earned his diploma in 1970. The following year he became a law clerk at the Supreme Court, and in 1971 he joined the Harvard Law School, where in 1996 he obtained the prestigious post Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence.

Since the early 1970s and his first often polemic writings, Duncan Kennedy has exercised a profound influence on the evolution of American juridical thought and its teaching methods.

He was first recognized as a founder of the Critical Legal Studies movement, whose principle objective was to contest the claim of political neutrality and consistency of law.

After more than forty years of often passionate debates about his ideas, he is recognized as the author of texts now considered classics in world legal literature on the history of legal thought (with works on the crossed interests of both sides of the Atlantic), the economic analysis of law (but one analysis resolutely heterodox), the links between law and literary theory, gender studies (he was the first to publish works on queer law), legal reasoning, the protection of rights by judges, and finally legal globalization (he was first to propose the general theory).

A prolific and innovative writer, often inspired by French philosophers, Duncan Kennedy is also an educator who has influenced generations of students from around the world and an intellectual who has in recent years shaped public interventions and the foreign policy of the United States.

His laudation was delivered by Christophe Jamin, The Sciences Po Law School director.

Publications : 

Among his notable works are :

  • Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierachy (1973) ;
  • The Rise and Fall of Classical Legal Thought (1975) ;
  • Sexy Dressing etc. (1993) ;
  • A Critique of Adjudication (1997) ;
  • Legal Reasoning, Collected Essays (2008).
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