Liberal Constitutionalism in the Americas: Workshop

On 21 March 2012, we hosted the third in our series of research workshops, on Liberal Constitutionalism in the Americas: Theory and Practice, at Senate House, London. The research workshops bring together scholars working on similar themes in different parts of the Americas in order to shine a comparative light on questions related to the history of liberalism in the region.

These workshops are heavily discussion-based: after our initial workshop in October 2011, we decided to leave out spoken presentations altogether and devote the entire session to discussion, comments, questions and feedback on the written papers that paper contributors submit in advance of the workshop. This has allowed in depth, exploratory discussions for the group to focus on comparative analysis, and I hope that individual paper contributors have also found the detailed focus on their work helpful in redrafting the working papers for future publication.

The Liberal Constitutionalism workshop featured two panels, one on South America, and one the United States and the Atlantic World (see the programme (21 March) for full details), and our paper contributors were: Dr Natalia Sobrevilla Perea (University of Kent), Dr Gabriel Negretto (CIDE, Mexico), Dr Marta Irurozqui (CCHS-CSIC, Madrid), Mr Tom Cutterham (St Hugh’s College, Oxford), Dr Max Edling (Loughborough University), and Prof. Kenneth Maxwell (Retired). We were also very grateful for the participation of Dr Adrian Pearce (KCL) and Dr Erik Mathisen (University of Portsmouth) for their excellent and stimulating contributions as commentators on the two panels.

The discussion focused on many interesting areas, which were greatly enhanced by the comparative focus of the event: the extent of liberal hegemony in the early to mid-nineteenth century; the ability of non-elite actors to participate in and shape constitutional practices; the importance of constitution-making for government and state legitimation; continuity and change in political cultures through the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century; and the mobility and malleability of liberal constitutionalism throughout the Americas and the Atlantic World. Please see the full report (21 March) for further details, and join the discussion in the comments section!