Dissertation Abstracts

An Ethnography of the Libyan Constituent Power

Author: van Lier, Felix-Anselm J, felix-anselm.vanlier@law.ox.ac.uk
Department: Law
University: Oxford, United Kingdom
Supervisor: Prof Denis Galligan; Dr Fernanda Pirie
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Constitution , Libya , Constituent Power
Areas of Research: Law , Political Sociology , Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management


This interdisciplinary research project seeks to shed fresh light on the notion of the constituent power, namely “the power to frame a constitution”. It will do so from an empirical perspective by investigating the complex power dynamics involved in the drafting process of the Libyan constitution, combining legal scholarship with sociological and anthropological research methods.

This project will examine the structure of a “constitutional network” which is composed of ties and relationships between various actors, who seek to influence the drafting of the Libyan constitution. Both interviews with actors involved in the constitution-making process and participant observation of conferences, meetings, debates and workshops will explain the motivations and goals of the actors in the constitution-making process as well as their relation with other actors of the ‘constitutional network’. The analysis of formal and informal procedures and mechanisms, collaborations, friendships, resource flows, or informational flows, and the social or organisational connections of actors within the “constitutional network” will illuminate the messy and contingent processes of negotiation and mutual adjustment through which a constitution is formed.

This project aims to capture the multiple layers of the constitutional processes including the under-explored transnational elements that position the Libyan constituent power between the global and the local, the international and national, the legal and the political. The ethnographic approach to constitution-making seeks to draw a subtle picture of who has the power to make the constitution and lead to a new, namely transnational understanding of the concept of the constituent power.

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