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Constitutional dictatorships, from colonialism to COVID-19

Meierhenrich, Jens (2021) Constitutional dictatorships, from colonialism to COVID-19. Annual Review of Law and Social Science, 17. 411 - 439. ISSN 1550-3585

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Identification Number: 10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-040721-102430


In this article, I use the concept of constitutional dictatorship as a heuristic, as a way of thinking more explicitly about constitutional violence than is customary in comparative constitutional law. Constitutional dictatorship is an epic concept. It is capable of illuminating-and retelling-epic histories of constitutional law, of alerting us to commonalities in constitutional practices of domination-and thus of violence-that would otherwise remain shrouded in legal orientalism. The analysis aspires to make constitutional law strange again. To this end, I trace nomoi and narratives of constitutional dictatorship from colonialism to the coronavirus pandemic. Arguing against emergency scripts, I relate the idea of "emergency" to the everyday and both to coloniality. Mine is a rudimentary conceptual history-a Begriffsgeschichte-of constitutional dictatorship. I think of the empirical vignettes about crisis government in the colony/postcolony on which my comparative historical analysis is based as prolegomena to a critical theory of constitutional dictatorship.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Annual Reviews Inc.
Divisions: International Relations
Centre for International Studies
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2022 14:27
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2024 16:24

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