Conceptualizing the Field of Comparative Constitutional Law

It is impossible to teach comparative constitutional law without confronting basic questions about the field itself: what should we be attempting to study, and how we should study it? Pedagogy forces us to choose among competing conceptions or models of the field. However, these models are rarely articulated, much less evaluated. Reflection on practice suggests the existence of at least five competing models, which might be called instrumentalism, tourism, immersion, abstraction, and representation. All five models merit a place at the table: the diversity of the field, of the audience, and of constitutionalism itself calls for a high degree of pedagogical as well as methodological pluralism. The representation model in particular is rarely encountered in practice but deserves wider adoption, as it is inherently well suited to filling the blind spots left by other approaches.