Post-Soviet as post-colonial
What is the relationship between post-colonial theory and constitutionalism? What role does the construction of history play in this interaction? This seminar discussed these questions in the context of William Partlett and Herbert Küpper’s new book, The Post-Soviet as Post-Colonial: A New Paradigm for Understanding Constitutional Dynamics in the Former Soviet Empire. It addressed three main questions.
First, what is the relationship between post-coloniality and the fifteen post-Soviet states? Why have these post-Soviet states been ignored in post-colonial theory? What does this region teach us about post-colonial theory generally? For instance, what role does historical memory play in the post-coloniality of the region?
Second, how has post-coloniality shaped constitutionalism in the former Soviet states? What role has it played in informing constitutional interpretation and change? For instance, does post-coloniality always aid or hinder democratic constitution-building or will it depend on the context?
Third, what does the post-Soviet region teach us about post-colonial theory and comparative constitutional studies? What similarities and differences do we see between post-colonial constitutionalism in the former Soviet republics and other former colonial spaces? For instance, what role does constructions of history play in post-colonialism?
About the panel
Maria Mälksoo is Senior Researcher at the Centre for Military Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. She received her PhD in International Studies from the University of Cambridge (2008) and has previously worked at the University of Kent, Brussels School of International Studies and the University of Tartu, Estonia. She is the author of The Politics of Becoming European: A Study of Polish and Baltic Post-Cold War Security Imaginaries (Routledge, 2010) and a co-author of Remembering Katyn (Polity, 2012). Her most recent articles have appeared in the European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies and the Journal of International Relations and Development. She is currently editing the Handbook on the Politics of Memory (Edward Elgar) and leading the Danish team in the Volkswagen Foundation-supported project ‘The Challenge of Populist Memory Politics of Europe: Towards Effective Responses to Militant Legislation on the Past’ (MEMOCRACY) (2021-2024).
Armen Mazmanyan is the Director of the Apella Institute for Policy Analysis and Dialogue, an independent research center based in Yerevan, Armenia. He has obtained his PhD in Law from the European University Institute in 2009. He has several articles and chapters on comparative constitutional law and politics published by peer reviewed journals. Dr. Mazmanyan taught comparative and international law in the American University of Armenia between 2003 and 2012 and held research positions in different universities in Europe and the US, most recently in the Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, University of Sydney/Electoral Integrity Project, Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, and Columbia University Law School. He frequently advises international organizations and NGOs on legal reforms and democratic institutions in countries in transition to democracy and has served on core teams of OSCE/ODIHR election observation missions in a number of countries, including Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Kazkahstan. He is currently a member of the International Steering Committee of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC).
Dinesha Samararatne is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Public & International Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her recent research work has been in relation to public participation in constitution-making, constitutional resilience, women and constitutional law, fourth branch institutions and the relevance of the global south in comparative constitutional law. Dinesha has published in the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Asian Journal of Comparative Law, Journal of Law and Society, Indian Law Review, Asian Journal of Law and Society, the Modern Law Review and the Journal of Asian Studies. Dinesha is a Senior Research Associate, Laureate Program in Comparative Constitutional Law, a member of the Editorial Board of the Indian Law Review and has served as a Co-Editor of the IACL Blog (2019-2021). At the Melbourne Law School, she has been Postdoctoral Fellow (2019-2020) and Kathleen Fitzpatrick Visiting Fellow (April – May 2018).
William Partlett is an Associate Professor at Melbourne Law School. Professor Partlett holds a JD from Stanford Law School as well as a DPhil in Soviet History and MPhil in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Oxford (where he was a Clarendon Scholar). He also holds a bachelors degree in International Affairs and Public Policy from Princeton University and speaks Russian. His research takes a historical and comparative approach to questions of public law.