Modern Law and Otherness
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Modern Law and Otherness

The Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion in Comparative Legal Thought

Veronica Corcodel

Over the last two decades or so, the field of comparative law has been increasingly interested in issues of globalisation and Eurocentrism. This book inscribes itself within the debates that have arisen on these issues and aims to provide a greater understanding of the ways in which the “non-West” is constructed in Euro-American comparative law. Approaching knowledge production from an interdisciplinary and critical perspective, the book puts emphasis on the governance implications of the field.
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Chapter 4: Pre-war twentieth-century comparative law: ambivalent social apologies for modernization

Veronica Corcodel


This chapter focuses on some of the most important early twentieth-century comparatists. These scholars criticize many features of the liberal legal order defended by Henry Maine, but do not altogether break away from them. Putting forward a ‘social’ conception of law, which is defended as the most advanced stage of evolution, they also endorse certain nineteenth-century ideas. It is argued that the ‘social’ stage is both relativized as Western and posited as universal. This facilitates a construction of the ‘non-West’ as backward and compelled to fit into the Western model to be recognized as modern or civilized. The chapter contends that such an exclusionary representation coexists with promises of inclusion emerging from critiques of ideas of universality and of Western expansion. The critical potential of these promises, however, is limited by unchallenged notions of civilization and modernity.

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