Thematic Issue Editorial Comment: Constitutional Struggles in Asia

Published date01 June 2022
AuthorDian AH Shah,Jonathan N Liljeblad,Andrew J Harding
Date01 June 2022
Special Issue (Part 1): Constitutional Struggles in Asia
Federal Law Review
2022, Vol. 50(2) 131136
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0067205X221088037‌lr
Thematic Issue Editorial Comment:
Constitutional Struggles in Asia
Dian AH Shah*, Andrew J Harding**
Jonathan N Liljeblad***
This thematic issue of the Federal Law Review engages with constitutional dimensions of com-
mentaries on the authoritarian turn in many Asian states. Such commentaries observe that despite
decades of work to promote democratic systems in Asia, multiple regimes have worked through the
institutions and processes of those systems to advance increasingly illiberal conditions.
The present
issue draws attention to constitutional aspects of the authoritarian turn, highlighting the role of
constitutional contestation within the systemic shifts occurring in Asia.
The articles assembled in this issue illustrate the permutations of constitutional struggles in a
range of Asian states, delineating how the respective constitution of each state serves as both a locus
and object of contestation between opposed political forces. While they address the contextual
specif‌ics of individual countries, the articles collectively facilitate a comparison of the various
manifestations of constitutional contestation across the Asia region. In doing so, they inform readers
about the features of constitutional discourses in Asia, not as a monolithic region but instead as a
varied terrain of nuanced contention.
The comparison follows the orientation of scholars such as Rosalind Dixon, Ran Hirschl and
Mark Tushnet, who, in an issue of the American Journal of Comparative Law, called for more
comparative analyses of constitutions, using holistic approaches with interdisciplinary methods that
invite a wider range of voices encompassing underrepresented places in the world.
Hirschl sought
to go beyond constitutional studies as the review of texts and doctrines, and to look instead for
constitutional studies which explore topics of culture, economics, institutional structures, power,
and strategyin a constitutional universe.
Dixon, however, cautioned that such goals require a
breadth and depth of knowledge about socio-political factors specif‌ic to a jurisdiction, which in turn
*Assistant Professor, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
**Visiting Research Professor, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
***Associate Professor, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT, Australia. The author may be contacted at:
1. Lee and Bertoa (n 1); Marston (n1).
2. Rosalind Dixon, Toward a Realistic Comparative Constitutional Studies?(2016) 64(1) American Journal of Com-
parative Law 193.; Ran Hirschl, The Comparative in Comparative Constitutional Law: A Response to Dixon and
Tushnet(2016) 64(1) American Journal of Comparative Law 209; Mark Tushnet, Saying and Doing in Comparative
Constitutional Studies(2016) 64(1) American Journal of Comparative Law 201; Ran Hirschl, Comparative Matters: The
Renaissance of Comparative Constitutional Law (Oxford University Press, 2014).
3. Hirschl (n 2) 152.

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