Law, Comparison, and Epistemic Governance: There Is Critique and Critique – A Review of Günter Frankenberg, Comparative Law As Critique (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2016) 281pp

Glanert, Simone and Legrand, Pierre (2017) Law, Comparison, and Epistemic Governance: There Is Critique and Critique – A Review of Günter Frankenberg, Comparative Law As Critique (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2016) 281pp. Review of: Comparative Law As Critique (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2016) 281pp) by Frankenberg, Günter. German Law Journal, 18 (3). pp. 701-720. ISSN 20711-8322. (Full text available)

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Abstract

How many scholarly fields have experienced the sad fate of comparative law and continued in the grip of a demonstrably indigent epistemology for decades on end? After the early postmodernity witnessed their protracted subjection to Les Grands systèmes’s jejune analytical frameworks, breezy generalizations and meagre interpretive yield — a predicament which, implausibly, endures in countries as diverse as Brazil, France and Russia — law’s comparatists began taking their epistemic orders from Hamburg and the Hamburgher diaspora. For fifty years or so, they have been gorged on a diet of Rechtsdogmatik, scientism, objectivity, neutrality, truth and assorted shibboleths. As if these epistemic delusions were not problematic enough, the earlier, obsolete model was eventually revived though it was tweaked to focus on traditions instead of systems. While critics were occasionally moved to chastise ruderous Hanseatic knowledge-claims — some expressing their concern in conspicuous venues, others harnessing prestigious institutional affiliations — comparative law’s orthodoxy, somewhat extraordinarily, has hitherto been able to operate unencumbered by any epistemic challenge whose monographic exposition would have proved compellingly primordial and compendious. It is the great merit of Günter Frankenberg’s Comparative Law As Critique, in crucial respects an account at once capital and extensive, that it interrupts, finally, the longstanding deployment of comparative law’s mainstream epistemic imposture. Frankenberg’s refutation is thus well worth rehearsing, and the first part of this review wishes loyally to apply itself to this important re-presentative task not least by affording the author much opportunity to express himself in his own voice. Yet, Frankenberg’s considerable critical integrity notwithstanding, this essay holds that his epistemic transgression remains too diffident. Specifically, four key issues at least warranted more subversive epistemic commitments than Frankenberg allowed. In the wake of Comparative Law As Critique, the second part of this commentary therefore addresses these contentions with a view to making a case both for comparative law as strong critique and for the paradigmatic epistemic turn that has been persistently deferred within the field.

Item Type: Review
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Simone Glanert
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2016 10:42 UTC
Last Modified: 30 May 2017 15:51 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/57726 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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