Journal article

From Foreign Text to Local Meaning: The Politics of Religious Exclusion in Transnational Constitutional Borrowing

Matthew J Nelson, Aslı Bâli, David Mednicoff, Hanna Lerner

Law & Social Inquiry | Cambridge University Press (CUP) | Published : 2020


Abstract Constitutional drafters often look to foreign constitutional models, ideas, and texts for inspiration; many are explicit about their foreign borrowing. However, when implemented domestically, the meaning of borrowed elements often changes. Political scientists and scholars of comparative constitutional law have analyzed the transnational movement of constitutional ideas and norms, but the political processes through which the meaning of foreign provisions might be refashioned remain understudied. Sociolegal scholars have examined the “transplantation” and “translation” of laws and legal institutions, but they rarely scrutinize this process in the context of constitutions. Drawing..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Funding Acknowledgements

This article emerged from conversations during our fellowship at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZIF) in Bielefeld, Germany, where we participated in a research group on constitutionalism, rights, and religion. We are grateful to Mirjam Kunkler and Shylashri Shankar, who together with Hanna Lerner organized the group, and to other fellows and seminar/workshop participants. Special thanks to Nathan Brown, Ran Hirschl, Gary Jacobsohn, Tom Ginsburg, Amihai Radzyner, and Iris Agmon for helpful comments on earlier drafts, and to participants at other workshops where we presented versions of this article, including Amon Reichman, Adam Shinar, Gila Stopler, Mark Tushnet, Rivka Weill, Antje Wiener, Mila Versteeg, Said Arjomand, Jean Cohen, and Iza Hussin. This article is dedicated to the memory of Alfred Stepan.