Edited by Colin Crawford and Daniel Bonilla Maldonado
Chapter 2: The political economy of legal knowledge
This chapter argues that the production, exchange, and use of legal knowledge are subject to a political economy. These processes, Bonilla explains, are governed by a series of rules and principles that determine the conditions of possibility for the creation of, commerce in, and consumption of legal theory, doctrine and practices. For Bonilla, this political economy is not neutral. It constructs a specific subject of knowledge that acts within a particular space and time. This chapter therefore has a double objective. On the one hand, it seeks to describe and analyze the political economy model that dominates the contemporary legal imagination. In this sense, it seeks to examine the conceptual structure of what Bonilla calls the free market of legal ideas model. This is the model that typically serves to explain the prevalence of U.S. constitutionalism in Latin America. On the other hand, it seeks to describe and analyze an alternative, peripheral political economy model that would best explain the real dynamics that regulate the creation, trade, and use of legal knowledge. To reach this objective, Bonilla sheds light on the conceptual structures that form what he calls the colonial model of legal knowledge production. In practice, this is the model that regulates key components of the relationships between Latin American and U.S. constitutionalism.
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