Constitutionalism in the Americas
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Constitutionalism in the Americas

Edited by Colin Crawford and Daniel Bonilla Maldonado

Constitutionalism in the Americas unites the work of leading scholars of constitutional law, comparative law and Latin American and U.S. constitutional law to provide a critical and provocative look at the state of constitutional law across the Americas today. The diverse chapters employ a variety of methodologies – empirical, historical, philosophical and textual analysis – in the effort to provide a comprehensive look at a generation of constitutional change across two continents.
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Chapter 2: The political economy of legal knowledge

Daniel Bonilla Maldonado


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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