Reconstruction, return or revolution? The phenomenon of critical legal thought in European post-communist countries

Stream Organisers: Adam Sulikowski (University of Wroclaw and Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law at the University of Opole) and Bartosz Greczner (Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law at the University of Opole)

Legal scholarship in Central and Eastern European countries is an interesting object of study in its own right. During the period of Actually Existing Socialism, a critique of law based on orthodox Marxism was officially endorsed in the legal discourse. However, only bourgeois law could be the object of such critique; socialist law could only be uncritically praised and any forms of critique of the existing legal system, or more generally, a critique of law in the spirit of post-Marxism, were banned as forms of dangerous reaction. The doctrine of official Marxism was strongly dogmatic. Its methodological principles were established by an interpretation of the resolutions of the Communist Party committee. However, certain forms of legal critique were similar to the Western forms.

The situation changed in the early 1990s. Legal scholars unthinkingly accepted the affirmative methodology of mainstream Western jurisprudence. Legal critique suddenly disappeared. Former “crits” abandoned their weapons. A critical approach appeared again as an import from the West – as a post-Marxist “French theory” that accepts Marx only as a basis for Foucault, Deleuze, Lacan and Co. Most of the new Central and Eastern European crits are young scholars who cannot be associated with the former period. Their critique is rather a reaction to the neoliberal capitalist environment and its problems than a reference to the local Marxist tradition.

The proposed stream can be a good arena to discuss the phenomenon of critical legal thought on the eastern side of the former Iron Curtain from different points of view. It can also be an opportunity to present the work of crits from the region, who are not well known in the West.

Please send paper abstracts of 300 words to Adam Sulikowski (sulikowski@prawo.uni.wroc.pl) or Bartosz Greczner (bartosz.g@prawo.uni.wroc.pl) before the 15 June 2013 deadline.

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