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ODEC 8090 - Knowledge, Power and Law

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 12

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

The production, exchange and use of legal knowledge are subject to a political economy. These processes 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. Consequently, this political economy is not neutral; it constructs a specific subject of knowledge that acts within a particular space and time. Thus, this course has two objectives. Firstly, it seeks to describe and analyze the political economy model that dominates our legal and political imagination. As such, it aims at examining the conceptual structure of what I what I would like to call the free market of legal ideas model. Secondly, this course aims at describing and analyzing an alternative model of political economy that would best explain the real dynamics that regulate the generation, exchange, and use of legal knowledge. To achieve this objective, the course will examine the conceptual structures that form what I would like to call the colonial model of the production of legal knowledge. The political economy of legal knowledge is not only a set of abstract concepts, rules, and principles. This set of ideas and norms determines the way people perceive legal knowledge, and therefore the types of behavior considered appropriate within this social field. Consequently, these concepts, rules and principles carry the important effects of enabling, while simultaneously limiting the actions of legal actors. Which context for the production of legal knowledge may be considered rich or poor, what value should be granted to legal ideas produced, what direction does the exchange of legal knowledge take, what issues are considered valuable objects of study, how and where this knowledge may be made public, and who can make appropriate use of the knowledge, are questions conditioned by the political economy of legal knowledge that dominates our legal and political imagination at a given moment in time. 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; and why an important number of legal scholars from the Global South can now speak knowledgeably of cases like Roe vs. Wade but few can mention the ruling that decriminalized abortion in Canada, and much less the ruling that partially decriminalized abortion in Colombia.


BONILLA MALDONADO, Daniel Eduardo (Universidad de Los Andes, Profesor Asociado)

Pedagogical format

Socratic method

Required reading

See syllabus for complete list of readings