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Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)


Law and Politics in Authoritarian and Developing CountriesProf William Hurst
How does law operate outside of industrialized liberal democracies? What assumptions do most scholars bring to the table when analyzing legal systems beyond the field’s traditional rich Western democratic core that should be addressed or jettisoned? In particular, is a Rule of Law framework most appropriate for making sense of law and politics in most of the world? If not, what might be a better replacement? This paper begins by addressing the competing perspectives of what we might call a “classical” rule of law and the political exigency of sovereignty. We will then move to examine perspectives for analyzing legal politics and institutions comparatively, before delving into a variety of topics and debates rooted in scholarship on actual legal systems around the world. By the end of the term, all students should have a thorough grounding in the literature on comparative legal politics as it relates to authoritarian and developing countries, though there are, of course, numerous books and literally thousands of articles one could (and should) read beyond what we are able to cover here. Still, the intended specialist will have a solid basis to begin exploring the field in more depth, while others will leave with enough to at least be familiar with some of the most important themes and issues.

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