Ran Hirschl: Constitutions and the Metropolis

Date: 15. June 2022

Time: 16.00

Venue: Auditorium Egget at Studentsenteret

The 21st century has been hailed the ‘century of the city’. The figures behind this label are mind boggling. From the early 20th century to present day, the world’s urban population has increased more than thirtyfold, from 150 million to over 4.5 billion. The ever-expanding urbanization trend is set to continue. The forecasts for 2030 or 2050—let alone for 2100—range from the disturbing to the near-dystopian. Projections suggest that megacities of 50 million or even 100 million inhabitants will emerge by the end of the century, mostly in the Global South. This shift marks an unprecedented transformation of the organization of society, both spatially and geopolitically. Yet our constitutional institutions and constitutional imagination have failed to keep pace with this new reality. Cities have remained, by and large, absent from canonical constitutional law and constitutional thought. In this lecture, based on his recent book City, State: Constitutionalism and the Megacity (Oxford University Press, 2020)—winner of the 2021 Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research—Professor Hirschl will discuss the main reasons for this conceptual oversight and explore some of the recent attempts to enhance the constitutional status of cities worldwide.

The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion with Ran Hirschl, Håvard Haarstad (UiB), Gökhan Sen (CMI/LawTransform), and Iver Østadvik (Rafto Foundation).

Ran Hirschl is Professor of Government and the Earl E. Sheffield Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) – the highest academic accolade in that country. He has published several award-winning books, the latest being City, State: Constitutionalism and the Megacity. Professor Hirschl has also written numerous articles and book chapters on the intersection of constitutional law with comparative politics and society. He has won academic excellence awards in five different countries and received several competitive research grants. He is the recipient of a University of Toronto teaching award and the APSA & Pi Sigma Alpha certificate for outstanding teaching in political science. Hirschl is also co-editor of Cambridge University Press book series on comparative constitutional law and policy.  He served as co-president of the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S); held distinguished visiting professorships at Harvard, NYU, the University of Göttingen, and at the National University of Singapore, and delivered many keynote addresses and endowed lectures.

Photo: University of Texas at Austin

This event is part of the Bergen as a Human Rights City series. This seminar series is a collaboration between LawTransform, the Rafto Foundation, the Church City Mission (Kirkens Bymisjon), CMI, the University of Bergen and Bergen Global and is funded by Fritt Ord.