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Constitutionalism and Rights

Instructor(s): Kaushik Sunder Rajan
Fall 2022

This course thinks through the question of constitutionalism and its relationship to rights, in historical and conceptual registers. Can constitutions be revolutionary instruments, and if so in what ways? How do constitutions enable or constrain imaginaries of justice or democracy? How do we understand the contemporary proliferation of “global Southern” constitutions in relation to histories of Euro-American constitutionalism? In what ways are constitutions legacies of colonialism, and in what ways are they the articulation of quintessentially postcolonial forms of contemporary politics? How do we think about constitutions as formal documents in relation to constitutionalism as a constantly emergent, open-ended and interpretive process? And finally, how do we think about the constitution, as often bounded within the nation-state, in relation both to transnational mobilities and legal imaginaries, and to something as aspirationally universalist as human rights? This course considers material concerned with, and thought out of, the United States, France, India and South Africa, in order to develop comparative entry-points into some of these questions.

ANTH 55545 | CCCT 55545