Culture in Law and Development: Nurturing Positive Change
Prof Lan Cao
Abstract: Law and development has had many incarnations, but “rule of law” is a core component. The standard law and development template includes predictable prescriptions such as drafting laws, constructing institutions, and promoting legal education. These are important steps towards the development of a market economy and the establishment of a state that is appropriately subject to the constraints of law. However, this emphasis on the institutional, legalistic and technocratic dimensions of law and development has created a systemic blind spot to culture. Yet, law and development is deeply embedded in cultural norms. This book adopts a holistic view of development and argues that cultural norms that impede the human capabilities of the poor, women and other marginal groups should be changed. Some anti-development norms fall within a human rights framework, such as female genital mutilation, footbinding and caste. Others, such as denying girls access to basic education, straddle both human rights and law and development traditions. Others might fit more within a market-oriented view of law and development. The book urges law and development scholars and practitioners to reject the acultural tradition of related fields such as public and private international law, international relations and even international human rights law and embark instead on a respectful but robust engagement with culture. Using concrete examples and country-specific case studies, the book defends culture change normatively and critically demonstrates how culture change has been accomplished.
Dr Olivera Simić is the Betty Hutton Williams Professor of International Economic Law at Chapman Law School in Orange, California. She is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Yale Law School and worked as a litigation and corporate attorney at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York City for many years until she joined legal academia as a law professor. She has taught at Brooklyn Law School, Duke Law School, Michigan Law School, and William & Mary Law School. Her scholarly and teaching interests include public international law, international human rights, international trade, international business and law and development. She is the author of Culture in Law and Development: Nurturing Positive Change (Oxford University Press 2016) as well as many law review articles on international law and economic development. She is also the author of two critically acclaimed novels Monkey Bridge (1997) and The Lotus and the Storm (2014), both published by Viking. Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times wrote of Monkey Bridge, "Cao has not only made an impressive debut, but joined authors such as Salman Rushdie and Bharati Mukherjee in mapping the state of exile and its elusive geographies of loss and hope.” She was born in Saigon, Vietnam and came to the United States in 1975 after the end of the war in Vietnam.