Comparative Constitutional Theory
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Comparative Constitutional Theory

Edited by Gary Jacobsohn and Miguel Schor

The need for innovative thinking about alternative constitutional experiences is evident, and readers of Comparative Constitutional Theory will find in its pages a compendium of original, theory-driven essays. The authors use a variety of theoretical perspectives to explore the diversity of global constitutional experience in a post-1989 world prominently marked by momentous transitions from authoritarianism to democracy, by multiple constitutional revolutions and devolutions, by the increased penetration of international law into national jurisdictions, and by the enhancement of supra-national institutions of governance.
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Chapter 17: Anchoring and sailing: contrasting imperatives of constitutional revolution

Gary Jacobsohn

Abstract

Abstract: A constitutional revolution occurs when there is a paradigmatic displacement in the conceptual prism through which constitutionalism is experience in a given polity. Such a transformation will be accompanied by critical changes in constitutional identity, although not every mutation of identity will entail a shift of sufficient magnitude to be considered revolutionary. The static and dynamic dimensions of the revolution/identity relationship are the principal focus of this chapter. Thus, the possibility that constitutional change could culminate in a transformation of revolutionary consequence presents contrasting imperatives for political actors responsible for steering the constitutional ship of state. For illustrative cases the chapter looks to Germany (in connection with European integration) and India (in connection with reservations policy), two polities that have provided fertile ground for constitutional theorizing about identity and revolution. In India, constitutional identity’s dynamic potential has been used as a vital resource for facilitating dramatic changes in constitutional development, while in Germany the defensive properties of constitutional identity have functioned as a strategic counter to revolutionary ambitions.

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