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1st International CLEST Workshop: Constitutionalism, Democracy, Education

Wrocław, 24-26 May 2019

The crisis of the liberal constitutionalism that may be currently observed goes beyond the emergence of illiberal democracies or new waves of populism; it pertains to the very idea of liberal constitutionalism itself which is being contested. The consensus in the legal and political theory reached in the 1960’ has recognized the necessity to limit the government by making its legitimacy dependent upon the compliance of its operation with individual fundamental rights. What has become the institutional guarantor of such a vision of constitutionalism are constitutional and international judicial institutions, which over the time have become more and more powerful. This, however, has taken place at the expense of the citizen participation and at the same time, it has consolidated the hegemonic position of the liberal constitutionalism, especially within the realm of legal education. Over the past few years, growing populist and illiberal movements have started to claim that the perspective of the community shall be taken into account along with the perspective of the individual. These movements appeals to the idea of democracy seen as the most adequate way of determining the will of the community. Growing tensions between these two perspectives provide an opportunity to rethink the basis of the contemporary constitutionalism and its relation to the idea of democracy.

The workshop shall create an opportunity to tackle the current crisis from three different dimensions: social theory of constitutionalism, laws concerning the collective memory, and legal education. We are interested in the social critique of the basis of the liberal constitutionalism, that is, the reflection on the conditions that eventually have led to the domination of this version of constitutionalism and the processes that have recently started to threaten it. Institutional domination of one version of constitutionalism has been effectively disqualifying possible alternatives in this regard. What has been suppressed from the theory and educational practices comes back as a political reaction. Currently, the logic of political action transforms the scientific dispute into the conflict over constitutional identity, of which the collective memory and the vision of the nation contained therein, is an important ingredient.  This allows to re-ask a question about the democratic potential of legal education. Lack of reaction to the crisis of constitutionalism from the legal community once more brings our attention to the vision of lawyer-citizen promoted by the academia. We are particularly interested in the relation between education and democracy.

Since its inception in 2015, Centre for Legal Education and Social Theory (CLEST) has systematically reflected upon social functioning of the law. In our activities we underline systemic interconnections between the constitutionalism, identity, collective memory and legal education. The aim of the 1st International CLEST Workshop is to gather researchers associated with the Centre and guest to provide them with an opportunity to present research projects that they are currently involved in.

The fee for an active participation in the conference amounts to EUR 60. Should you be interested in the participation in the workshop, please submit a short abstract (300-500 words) to: wojciech.zomerski@uwr.edu.pl no later than by 28 April 2019. Please bear in mind that given the limited number of presentations the process of selection will be highly selective.