Constitutionalism in the Arab World: Questions on Discourse Ideology, and Epistemology
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Because “Law” is, in essence, a social construction, it cannot be examined separately from the social conditions that produced it. This dissertation looks at the importance of “discourse” as a social condition that produces and shapes “Constitutional legal frameworks” in the Arab World, and contributes to its failure in establishing responsibility and holding agents accountable in an effective and sustainable manner. Looking at examples of modern Arab political reform debates, I examine how a globalized discourse on Modern Constitutionalism plays a significant role in producing and shaping foundational socio-political arrangements in contemporary Arab societies on hegemonic basis, which lacks contextual relevance, conceptual coherence, and basic sociopolitical calculation. By observing the “language” of these public debates, one can see that realizing “rational governance” as an inspirational objective is equated with the realization of the notion of “Modern Constitutionalism.” Consequently, “political reform” as a discourse, is also reduced and centered on the notion of “Constitutional Reform.” I argue that such a linguistic submission to the reductive discourse of Modern Constitutionalism entails restricting the “rational agency” of public debate participants to an unduly universalized system of thinking about rational governance. Hence, the underlying questions with which this dissertation is concerned are: how much rational agency do participants in Arab political reform discourse have to “think organically” in their particular context, beyond the discursive hegemony of the globalized “Modern Constitutionalism” framework? Moreover, is it possible to develop an Arab-centric conceptual approach to the socio-political foundational arrangements of Modern Arab societies that reflects their distinct socio-political structures, their contexts and their particular challenges transparently, and contemplates them more coherently in the public debate?
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