Decolonial Comparative Law

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 conventional 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.

This virtual workshop will take place via Zoom. You will receive login details one day before the event. It is not permissible to record any part of the workshop. By participating in this online workshop, you confirm that you have read and agree to be bound by Zoom’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, available here and here.

Program (PDF)

Note on the event times: What is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)?

Workshop schedule 6 October 2020

GMT +2     
GMT -3
Topic
13:45-14:00
08:45-09:00
Introductions
14:00-15:00
09:00-10:00
Roger Merino:
“How post-neoliberal movements might design decolonial constitutions? A decolonial approach to comparative constitutional law from Latin America”

Discussant: Tshepo Madlingozi
15:00-15:15
10:00-10:15   
Break
15:15-16:15
10:15-11:15
María Itatí Dolhare:
“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
16:15-16:30
11:15-11:30   
Break
16:30-17:30
11:30-12:30   
Flavianne Bitencourt Nóbrega and Camilla Montanha de Lima:
“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
17:30-17:45
12:30-12:45   
Break
17:45-18:45
12:45-13:45
Annette Lansink:
“Reinscribing indigenous experiences in constitutions: a comparative study”

Discussant: Lena Salaymeh


Workshop schedule 7 October 2020

GMT +2     
GMT -3
Topic
14:00-15:00
09:00-10:00   
María Julia Ochoa Jiménez:
Comparative decolonial law and territorialism in latin america

Discussant: Christopher Gevers
15:00-15:15
10:00-10:15
Break
15:15-16:15
10:00-10:15   
Masake Pilisano:
“Decolonial theory: A critical analysis on how legal transplant manifests coloniality (a comparative study between Southern Africa and Southern Asian states)”

Discussant: Babatunde Fagbayibo
16:15-16:30
11:15-11:30
Break
16:30-17:30
11:30-12:30   
Daniel Bonilla:
“Modern comparative law and the construction of the legal barbarian”

Discussant: Ralf Michaels
17:30-17:45
12:30-12:45   
Break
17:45-18:45
12:45-13:45   
Dunia P. Zongwe:
“Comparative law as a defining method of decolonized legal research in Africa”

Discussant: Emile Zitzke
18:45-19:15
13:45-14:15
Conclusion and next steps

Co-organizers: Tshepo Madlingozi & Emile Zitzke (University of Witwatersrand) and Ralf Michaels & Lena Salaymeh (Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Private International Law)

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