Making We the People

Making We the People : Democratic Constitutional Founding in Postwar Japan and South Korea

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What does it mean to say that it is 'We the People' who 'ordain and establish' a constitution? Who are those sovereign people, and how can they do so? Interweaving history and theory, constitutional scholar Chaihark Hahm and political theorist Sung Ho Kim attempt to answer these perennial questions by revisiting the constitutional politics of postwar Japan and Korea. Together, these experiences demonstrate the infeasibility of the conventional assumption that there is a clearly bounded sovereign 'people' prior to constitution-making that stands apart from both outside influence and troubled historical legacies. The authors argue that 'We the People' only emerges through a deeply transformative politics of constitutional founding and, as such, a democratic constitution and its putative author are mutually constitutive. Highly original and genuinely multidisciplinary, this book will be of interest to democratic theorists and scholars of comparative constitutionalism as well as observers of ongoing constitutional debates in Japan and more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1139088483
  • 9781139088480

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. The unbearable lightness of the people; 2. War and peace; 3. The ghost of empire past; 4. A room of one's own; more

Review quote

'Hahm and Kim's extraordinary intellectual achievement provides rare illumination of the crucial and deeply misunderstood concept of popular sovereignty. Their learned, elegant, and searching analysis should be an enduring part of the conversation that must be conducted if we are to make sense of our common constitutional predicament.' Gary J. Jacobsohn, H. Malcolm Macdonald Professor of Constitutional and Comparative Law, University of Texas, Austin 'The simultaneous writing of constitutions in twentieth-century Japan and Korea, two countries under heavy American influence, makes an obvious candidate for comparative study yet no such work has been undertaken until now. In Making We the People, Hahm and Kim have dug deeply into both histories and their global context, offering a nuanced and thoughtful account.' Andrew Gordon, Lee and Juliet Folger Fund Professor of History, Harvard University 'Hahm and Kim persuasively argue that we can only discover who 'We the People' named in a constitution are by adopting a broader spatial and temporal lens ... that considers external influences, creative uses of the past, and shifting definitions of peoplehood. Making We the People thus contributes significantly to comparative constitutional studies, East Asian studies, and scholarship on nation building and democratic theory.' Celeste L. Arrington, Pacific Affairsshow more