075 Constitutional Projects in Times of Crisis

Tuesday, June 25, 2013: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM
1.14 (PC Hoofthuis)
Nations try to address vital challenges to their survival as a people by changing their constitutional framework, or at least by reinterpreting the meaning of their constitution. Indeed, existential crises challenge the very identity of the people whose boundaries were drawn by the past constitutional framers. When past boundaries are questioned, and the survivability of the people under one constitutional framework appears uncertain, some segments of the present people(s) might secede and form new communities, some might be excluded against their will, or foreign people(s) might be invited to join "the people" and form new and larger people(s). This panel investigates how constitutional framers and interpreters have responded to vital crises by interrogating the identity of the people(s) whose boundaries they were asked to re-define and protect. The panelists interrogate how constitutional makers/interpreters have dealt with the tasks of defining the people(s) on whose behalf they dared to speak. More specifically, they  question how constitutional makers/interpreters have defined the conditions under which segments of the existing political community would either exit or be excluded, as well as the conditions under which new peoples would be added to the community in the near future. The panel will survey various cases in which the identity of the people(s) protected under one constitution was turned into a problematic object: the 1949 Basic Law that served as a constitution-like framework for a divided German people; the European Political Community treaty, drafted in the early 1950s to respond to the crisis brought by the necessity to integrate a re-armed West Germany into the Western European community; the constitution of the French Fifth Republic, and the various reinterpretations that occured after the economic crisis of the late 1970s.
Olav Velthuis
Alessandra Arcuri
Writing minorities out : The French Constitution’s Republican Turn
Eleonore Lepinard, Université de Montréal
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