About the Fellow Group

Over the last half century, there has been a global convergence upon ideals of constitutional supremacy, and a corresponding proliferation of courts and tribunals assigned with extensive constitutional and judicial review powers. Consequently, the constitutional arena has become a central forum for dealing with core moral dilemmas, key policy-making challenges and contentious political questions. This global trend is arguably one of the most significant developments in 21st century government. Meanwhile, in younger polities, challenges related to the drafting of constitutions and establishing the authority and legitimacy of an independent judiciary occupy the political arena. In an increasing number of settings worldwide, the constitutional order itself faces considerable challenges by religion, ethnic rifts, economic crises, security threats and resurgent populism.

The Max Planck Fellow Group in Comparative Constitutionalism was headed by Prof. Dr. Ran Hirschl from 2018 to 2021. It was established to explore the interrelations between the constitutional arena (texts, institutions, jurisprudence) and the political sphere within which it operates, in particular as it pertains to the governance of collective identity, religion, urbanization, and economic inequality across time and place. In so doing, we aim to advance an interdisciplinary approach, methodological and substantive, to the study of comparative constitutionalism, and to foster dialogue between legal scholars and social scientists studying a similar set of phenomena from different disciplinary angles. 


City, State: Comparative Constitutionalism and the Megacity
by Ran Hirschl (Oxford University Press, 2020, 272 pp.)
More than half of the world's population lives in cities; by 2050, it will be more than three quarters. Projections suggest that megacities of 50 million or even 100 million inhabitants will emerge by the end of the century, mostly in the Global South. This shift marks a major and unprecedented transformation of the organization of society, both spatially and geopolitically. Our constitutional institutions and imagination, however, have failed to keep pace with this new reality. Cities have remained virtually absent from constitutional law and constitutional thought, not to mention from comparative constitutional studies more generally. As the world is urbanizing at an extraordinary rate, this book argues, new thinking about constitutionalism and urbanization is desperately needed. In six chapters, the book considers the reasons for the "constitutional blind spot" concerning the metropolis, probes the constitutional relationship between states and (mega)cities worldwide, examines patterns of constitutional change and stalemate in city status, and aims to carve a new place for the city in constitutional thought, constitutional law and constitutional practice. more
Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitors Lecture
NUS Law hosted the 17th Kwa Geok Choo Distinguished Visitors Lecture with Professor Ran Hirschl, from the University of Toronto, who delivered a public lecture titled, "Urban Agglomeration, Megacities, Constitutional Silence" on 9 September 2019. The lecture was followed by a question and answer session chaired by Associate Professor Jaclyn Neo ’03 (NUS Law). more
Presentation of the Alexander von Humboldt Professorships by Federal Minister Wanka in Berlin on 16 May

Presentation of the Alexander von Humboldt Professorships by Federal Minister Wanka in Berlin on 16 May

The Federal Minister of Education and Research Professor Johanna Wanka, award winner Professor Ran Hirschl, the President of the Georg-August-Universität Professor Ulrike Beisiegel and the President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Professor Helmut Schwarz (from left to right).
Alexander von Humboldt Professorship 2017

Ran Hirschl

Alexander von Humboldt Professorship 2017
Best Paper Award
Alexander Hudson received the first prize in the PDD Section's Best Paper for his work "Potemkin Village Meetings: Public Participation in Constitution Making" at the PSA conference in Nottingham in 2019. more
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