In his article entitled ‘Nomos and Narratives’ (1983), Robert Cover argued that the ‘jursipathic’ is always partnered with the ‘jurisgenetic’ in the process of building constitutional orders. Although Cover used the US Supreme Court decisions concerning the status of the Amish in the US polity in order to show how constitutional adjudications had become jurispathic by leaving the Amish norms outside the purview of the federal constitutional order, his distinction is insightful and has wider applicability. This is not only because in most constitutional nomoi, that is, orders, one can often find a close intertwining of two opposing tendencies, namely, one empowering citizens, the other empowering states, and an ensuing tangle of contradictions. It is also due to the fact that following the 2008 economic crisis, the world has changed. Austerity in Europe and the US has impacted on the constitutional landscape, Mr Snowden and Mr Manning were seen as deserving the punishment reserved for traitors and spies, not whistleblowers, ‘unconstitutional constitutions’ have emerged (e.g., Hungary) and ‘jurisgenetic’ forces in North Africa quickly became jurispathic (Egypt, Tunisia).
The aims of the proposed conference are to examine in detail the changed and changing constitutionalisms in context, investigate how the jurisgenetic and the jurispathic shift in and out of balance and to assess the implications of the above for all types of politics, that is, authoritarian, decentralised and empowering, distributive, regulative and constituent, as well as for statehood in the second decade of the new millennium.
It will also bring together scholars who have worked on jurisgenetic constitutionalism, as an alternative to a jurispathic constitutional order, in an attempt to conceptualise the various forms of jursigenetic constitutionalism and the extent of their complementarity of divergence. One conference session will be devoted to exploring a new form called ‘public service constitutionalism’ which could steer a more inclusive and empowering democratic politics.