The Political Economy of Legal Knowledge
SÉMINAIRE DES DOCTORANTS DE DROIT
PERIPHERIES OF LAW
Daniel Bonilla is an Associate Professor at Universidad de los Andes. He will be presenting his latest work The Political Economy of Legal Knowledge which was published as a chapter of the book “Constitutionalism in the Americas” (Elgar Publishing, 2018).
The production, exchange, and use of legal knowledge are subject to a political economy. These processes neither happen in a vacuum, nor are they developed in a venturesome manner. They are governed by a series of rules and principles that determine the conditions allowing the creation, commerce and consumption of legal theories, doctrines, and practices. These rules and principles specify where and who can create legal knowledge, how this knowledge is legitimized, which channels are appropriate for its dissemination, who may use it adequately, and how it may be used effectively. The political economy of legal knowledge contributes to the creation of our legal and political imagination, and therefore conditions the way we construct, perceive, and describe legal knowledge. As a consequence, this political economy is not neutral; it constructs a specific subject of knowledge that acts within a particular space and time. More precisely, this political economy presupposes a subject, a space, and a time that determine the way we understand the processes that allow for the emergence, trading, and consumption of legal knowledge. Understanding, analyzing and evaluating this political economy will thus allow us to grasp some practical questions that affect our political communities on a daily basis. This will allow us to understand issues such as why legal transplants are typically exported by Global North countries and imported by Global South countries; why the grammar of modern constitutionalism is primarily created and managed by a small group of European and North American political theorists; why the constitutional products of the Global South appear on the margins of the global market of legal ideas; why an important number of legal scholars from the Global South can now speak knowledgeably of cases like Roe v. Wade but few can mention the ruling that decriminalized abortion in Canada, and much less the ruling that partially decriminalized abortion in Colombia.
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