Saturday, January 2, 2016

Kroncke, The Futlity of Law and Development

Via Jotwell, we have word of a new release from Oxford University Press: The Futility of Law and Development: China and the Dangers of Exporting American Law (2015), by Jedidiah Kroncke (FGV Direito SP). Here's the description from the Press:
For all the attention paid to the Founder Fathers in contemporary American debates, it has almost been wholly forgotten how deeply they embraced an ambitious and intellectually profound valuation of foreign legal experience. Jedidiah Kroncke uses the Founders' serious engagement with, and often admiration for, Chinese law in the Revolutionary era to begin his history of how America lost this Founding commitment to legal cosmopolitanism and developed a contemporary legal culture both parochial in its resistance to engaging foreign legal experience and universalist in its messianic desire to export American law abroad. Kroncke reveals how the under-appreciated, but central role of Sino-American relations in this decline over two centuries, significantly reshaped in the early 20th century as American lawyer-missionaries helped inspire the first modern projects of American humanitarian internationalism through legal development. Often forgotten today after the rise of the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, the Sino-American relationship in the early 20th century was a key crucible for articulating this vision as Americans first imagined waves of Americanization abroad in the wake of China's 1911 Republican revolution.

Drawing in historical threads from religious, legal and foreign policy work, the book demonstrates how American comparative law ultimately became a marginalized practice in this process. The marginalization belies its central place in earlier eras of American political and legal reform. In doing so, the book reveals how the cosmopolitan dynamism so prevalent at the Founding is a lost virtue that today comprises a serious challenge to American legal culture and its capacity for legal innovation in the face of an increasingly competitive and multi-polar 21st century. Once again, America's relationship with China presents a critical opportunity to recapture this lost virtue and stimulate the searching cosmopolitanism that helped forge the original foundations of American democracy.
And a few blurbs:
"Kroncke recovers a wide-ranging legal cosmopolitanism as the least appreciated, if not outright ignored, of our Founders' shared commitments. Using transnational sources wholly unappreciated to date, he artfully reveals through the Sino-American relationship how this virtue was lost through interwoven transformations in American legal, religious, and diplomatic history. A work whose lessons need by heeded by all those concerned with preserving American law's historical vibrancy in the contemporary era, or with how we conceive of America's role in the international world." -- William E. Nelson

"Americans keep hoping that projects to export our law will be the key to spurring economic growth and liberal rights in developing countries. The projects keep failing, yet the hope always revives. Kroncke's brilliant exploration of two centuries of American lawyers' engagement with China helps to explain why: the missionary-lawyers are the direct secularized heirs of lawyer-missionaries, just as confident in the universal validity of their models and impervious to the true lessons of their experiences. He recovers a time when a more cosmopolitan America was willing to learn from other societies, even while aspiring to be an exemplar of republican democracy." -- Robert Gordon
The JOTWELL review, by Aziz Rana (Cornell Law School), is available here.

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