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The chapter chronicles the emergence of religious minorities in late colonial constitutional politics. Efforts to actualize the missionary dream of winning souls took the form of self-determination advocacy in the late colonial years with Protestant advocates constructing the religious minorities as the group seeking self-determination. Although the religious minorities emerged to resist colonial rule, paradoxically, making that identity affirmed the Muslim-non-Muslim classification central to colonial governance. By telling a story of the oppression of Christians and diverse indigenous faiths based on their status as non-Muslims, Protestant advocates constructed an identity centered on its antithesis to Islam. That binary failed to capture the complex forms of exclusion that colonial governance of religion entailed. Although it purported to be inclusive of all non-Muslim concerns, self-determination advocacy overwhelmingly privileged the Protestant experience. Moreover, the religious minorities' identity excluded Muslim populations marginalized in the colonial state. The ultimate consequence was that the religious minorities project opened new doors to inequality.
This chapter examines the legacy of the colonial governance of religion. Those struggles have inherited the nation's complex colonial history as an essentialist debate between a Muslim camp advancing a Sharia renaissance agenda and opposed to secularism and a Christian camp opposing the Sharia project and championing the secularist separation of the state from religion. That memory of the colonial experience is borne of both sides' criticism of colonial rule; however, neither the drivers of the Sharia renaissance agenda nor their Christian critics are liberated from the history of imperial rule. Both seek the governance of religion in the manner of the colonial state they despise. As with actors in the colonial state, the postcolonial camps also deploy the notions of secularist separation and religious liberty in fluid ways, belying their arguments about their unconditional fidelity to either idea. The chapter, therefore, argues that imperial secular governmentality, which has survived into the postcolonial state, is far from the untroubled mode of domination it is often criticized as being. It is instead a domain of contestation.
The unwritten constitution of the United States includes the Aristotelian and Gödelian Constitutions, the various constitutions in and outside of the courts, and the features of distinctive constitutional regimes. This chapter details these unwritten constitutions and highlights the empirical dimensions of constitutionalism in general and of American constitutionalism in particular, emphasizing how the empirical and normative dimensions of constitutionalism cannot be separated. Constitutionalism is an intricate blend of law and politics, not a means of separating law from politics. Written and unwritten constitutional politics intertwine with written and unwritten constitutional law in ways ignored by both legal and political science versions of the law/politics distinction. This chapter also explores some dynamics in contemporary constitutional politics in the United States and shows that changes in unwritten constitutional politics have not yet been captured by written or unwritten constitutional law. Bringing the structure of constitutional politics back into the structure of constitutionalism promises better constitutional analysis and, perhaps, better constitutional practice.
Modern Thai constitutionalism, though often meaningful and rich in form and substance, has experienced great volatility since its inception in 1932. At the same time, behind the twenty constitutions that have emerged since then, some recurring ideal-typical figurations that have dominated certain periods of constitutional politics in Thailand can be observed. These historically derived ideal-typical notions of constitutional politics mostly represent inherently hegemonic conceptions. They are defined for instance by how they conceive western and autochthonous elements of constitutionalism, majoritarian electoral politics and the monarchy, the rule of law and authoritarian governance by men. This chapter explores some of the most significant historical experiences and ensuing figurations of Thai constitutionalism that together form a rich reservoir of different, sometimes diverging notions to understand and practice constitutional governance in Thailand.
The nature of American constitutional politics was forever changed during the Progressive Era. In the nineteenth century, the process of constitutional interpretation was a vague and decentralized enterprise balanced between the courts and the public square. The meaning of the Constitution was decided as much at the polls or on the battlefield as in court opinions. This balance started to give way at the turn of the century as federal courts began asserting greater authority in the definition of constitutional bounds. “Bench over Ballot” illustrates how the assertion of judicial supremacy in the Progressive Era precipitated a fight that upended the traditional dynamic of American politics. Populist-progressives championed the people's ultimate right to correct judicial decisions while traditionalist-conservatives stood for judicial supremacy to ensure a “government of laws.” The outcome of the political battle in 1912 was a consensus between Wilsonian progressives and Taftian conservatives in favor of judicial supremacy that banished the notion of popular supremacy and transformed the nature of constitutional politics from a popular, decentralized process to a vicious battle over the personal composition of the bench—a phenomenon deeply familiar over a century later.
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