Spatial statism

Ayelet Shachar and Ran Hirschl


In this project, Ran Hirschl and Ayelet Shachar examine the tremendous versatility and creativity of states as they extend their spatial and juridical tentacles in the new global environment. In an array of key policy areas that share strong territorial or spatial elements, they explore in considerable detail how state-centered public law defines, and where required redefines, space and territory in order to tame potential threats—local or global, vertical and horizontal—to the state’s territorial sovereignty. In a world in which the globalization narrative is associated with unrestrained flows of capital, ideas, and technologies, we track and identify a counter-narrative—spatial statism—of reconfigured regulation of the mobility of people, the immobility of cities, the emplacement of natural wealth and resources, the withering expression of religious diversity in the public sphere, and the unheralded return of “us versus them” distinctions based on “true” belonging and place-based attachments to a particular patria, revealing through these illustrative examples the importance of a framework of analysis that takes heed of the spatial dimensions of public law. Taken in conjunction, these illustrations suggest that the disregard for, and dismissal of, the state as a potent actor in the public law arena is premature. Although state sovereignty may be metamorphosing, it is evidently not vanishing.  

Representative publication:

Hirschl R. & Shachar A. 2019. “Spatial Statism” International Journal of Public Law 17(2), 387-438. https://doi.org/10.1093/icon/moz052

Themed event:

Public Law and Spatial Governance: New Frontiers,” International conference co-organized by the Ethics, Law and Politics Department and the Alexander von Humboldt Chair in Comparative Constitutionalism

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