Decolonial Comparative Law
Ralf Michaels (MPI Director) and Lena Salaymeh (British Academy Global Professor, University of Oxford) established a long-term collaborative research project on decolonial comparative law.
Decolonial comparative law both identifies how the matrix of modernity/coloniality structures prevalent understandings of law and offers decolonial alternatives. (Coloniality means not merely colonialism, but rather a totalizing and universalizing mode of thought that underlies modernity.)
Conventional comparative law rests on epistemic assumptions that emerge from the modernity/coloniality matrix and this has implications for a number of core presumptions or practices in comparative law: using the nation-state as a category of analysis, privileging secular law over religious law, viewing modern law as superior to precolonial and anticolonial legal traditions. Decoloniality seeks to overcome the center-periphery structure, a key aspect of the modernity/coloniality matrix, through the concept of pluriversality, meaning the legitimacy of multiple traditions and social orderings.
Rather than organizing comparative law around the objective of unifying or “modernizing” law, we advocate using comparative law to decolonize legal thinking and to create conditions for legal pluriversality. A decolonial analysis reveals the coloniality within decolonial comparative law and thereby helps move beyond it.
Virtual workshop 6-7 October 2020
The Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law (Hamburg) and the University of the Witwatersrand School of Law are organising an virtual workshop on decolonial comparative law on 6-7 October 2020 (see schedule below).
Papers will not be formally presented; instead, papers will be pre-circulated to (and should be read by) all participants and engaged listeners. During the hour dedicated to each paper, the discussant will present a summary and critical engagement for 15 minutes; the remainder of the hour will be dedicated to questions and discussion. Workshop papers will be distributed to participants, discussants, and engaged listeners in early September 2020.
Engaged listeners are asked to read all the papers and to attend or participate in every session. To register as an engaged listener, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 September 2020.
Workshop schedule 6 October 2020
“How post-neoliberal movements might design decolonial constitutions? A decolonial approach to comparative constitutional law from Latin America”
Discussant: Tshepo Madlingozi
“My land, your land or Mother Earth? - Plurinational state and decoloniality of Mother Earth: judicial approaches to the constitutional incorporation of Western and non-Western conceptions of ‘land rights’ ‘territory’ and ‘environmental protection’”
Discussant: Jorge Esquirol
“How the indigenous case of Xukuru before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights can inspire decolonial comparative studies on property rights”
Discussant: José Manuel Barreto Soler
“Reinscribing indigenous experiences in constitutions: a comparative study”
Discussant: Lena Salaymeh
Workshop schedule 7 October 2020
Comparative decolonial law and territorialism in latin america
Discussant: Christopher Gevers
“Decolonial theory: A critical analysis on how legal transplant manifests coloniality (a comparative study between Southern Africa and Southern Asian states)”
Discussant: Babatunde Fagbayibo
“Modern comparative law and the construction of the legal barbarian”
Discussant: Ralf Michaels
“Comparative law as a defining method of decolonized legal research in Africa”
Discussant: Emile Zitzke
Co-organizers: Tshepo Madlingozi & Emile Zitzke (University of Witwatersrand) and Ralf Michaels & Lena Salaymeh (Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Private International Law)