Civic Republican Constitution Building in Tuvalu

Drawing on the author’s own experience as a constitutional advisor in the South Pacific island of Tuvalu, this paper examines an important but overlooked element of the civic-republican constitutionalism: its concern for civic virtue. The first part of the paper advances a theoretical argument to show that in the civic republican understanding, a constitution does not merely regulate institutions of government, but is also an instrument of ethical community building. The second part relates this to constitution-building practice, showing how Tuvalu’s recent constitutional review tried to declare and protect civic virtues by: (1) the establishment of a national religion; (2) the constitutional recognition of a Charter of Values and Responsibilities with scope to limit rights; and (3) a requirement of ‘active participation in community life’ as a precondition for being eligible to vote. These are all antithetical to liberal constitutional values, but not to civic republican ones.

A Theory of the EU Judiciary in an Age of Constitutional Change and Populism

The paper focuses on the role and functions of the EU judiciary in the self-preservation and self-perpetuation of the EU legal order. The EU judiciary’s pivotal task has traditionally been that of approving or rejecting change – acting either as a driver of transformation or as a constraint. However, it is possible to devise, at least in the case of the EU, a form of change that eludes the above-mentioned binary code. Moreover, what function does the EU judiciary have – if any – in shaping the legal culture of a transnational space? The paper examines some key case studies from the past and the present, showing the extent to which and the constraints under which it is possible to analyse the ‘change’ performed by the EU judiciary in the development of the EU by focusing simultaneously on the EU judiciary’s ‘preserving’ and ‘creative’ nature.

The Aesthetics of Politics

The paper takes as its starting point the idea that society and the political order are aesthetically organized, and that politics takes place on an aesthetic level. Aesthetics here refers to emotional and cognitive sensibility and to the imaginative sphere. The paper interprets political exclusion in current legal-political contexts as an aesthetic question. Following Rancière, struggle against marginalization means resistance to the prevailing aesthetic ‘distribution of the sensible’ determining parts, positions and shares in society. The subversive effect of politics is its contestation of the aesthetic ordering of legitimate modes of political action, depoliticization of identities of political actors, and privatization of political spaces. Furthermore, politics can utilize diverse artistic, aesthetically effective theatrical and performative strategies. It can consist, for example, of non-verbal embodied action, poetic speech, or take the form of political storytelling.

Seats of Power: Ethnographies of Constituted Space

Kim Lane Scheppele defines constitutional ethnography as ‘the study of the central legal elements of polities using methods that are capable of recovering the lived detail of the politico-legal landscape’. The aim of the paper is to develop this provisional definition further into a more focused approach analysing the ways in which power is experienced as the ‘lived detail’ of a constituted space. Individuals namely experience the constitutional arrangements under which they live as spatial contours within which they negotiate their relationships to power and domination. What do these spatial contours, understood now as the containers of our lived experiences, tell us about the constitutional arrangements themselves? How can the ‘lived detail’ of constituted space be studied? Particular attention will be paid to the potential of three ethnographic perspectives: auto-ethnography, sensory ethnography, and visual ethnography.