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International Journal of Law and Management

Post-National Constitutionalism and the Problem of Translation

Neil Walker
European University Institute
Abstract :

This paper considers the problem of translation as it relates to the transferal of core normative concepts of constitutionalism from the state to postnational settings. The papers canvasses opposing and mutually reinforcing views in the EU context on the legitimacy of translational attempts, as well as the assumptions on which such views are based, and notes that neither stance fully engages with the problems of a general theory of translation. It is proposed that the prerequisites for an effective and valuable translation include a deep understanding of constitutional context, including the reality of the limits of constitutionalism, and a shift in focus away from the use of constitutional signifiers to the concepts signified by those terms and so also on elements common to the state and post-state context. Constitutional characteristics susceptible to translation should not simply be identified as elements of constitutional discourse, but as a dynamic balancing of competing imperatives, a tension which may act as a universal explanatory relevance across constitutional sites and provide a normative basis for translation . Three core values, or constitutive public goods, are identified: economic and material well-being, political unity, and collective freedom. Translation must take account of the tension between these virtues, and not simply focus on only one of the three clusters.

Keywords :
Problem of Translation

Date Deposited : 18 Mar 2016 14:14

Last Modified : 18 Mar 2016 14:14

Official URL:

Volume 2003, Number 3, - 2003 , ISSN 1552-6275

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