Chapter 6: Lessons for new Legal Realism from Africa and Latin America
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There is no self-described New Legal Realist movement within Latin American and African academies. Yet legal scholarship from these regions abounds with examples of work that performs the two most essential components of New Legal Realism: 1) it steps beyond law’s self-description as neutral and self-contained so as to examine its relationship to social and political phenomena; and 2) it employs the questions, theories, and methods of the social sciences to do so. This chapter provides a bird’s-eye view of some of this NLR-friendly scholarship from Latin America and Africa in recent decades, with an eye to how it could move and inform today’s NLR scholars. Using transformative constitutionalism as an example of a concept developed in the global south, it argues that scholars based in the global north should take seriously the theories and questions emerging from these two regions, and allow them to reshape their own thinking.

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