Time Talk in Constitutional Preambles
Associate Professor Nomi Claire Lazar
Date: Jan 24, 2019 (Thursday)
Time: 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Venue: A723, 7/F, Cheng Yu Tung Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU
Abstract： Why are constitutional preambles so full of time-talk? In recent years, preambles have grown longer, more contentious, and more influential in constitutional interpretation, and a persistent feature of this newly expansive rhetoric is references to arcs of temporality that go beyond the mere mention of historical events. Drawing on my new book Out of Joint: Power, Crisis, and the Rhetoric of Time (Yale, 2019) this talk shows how this ‘temporal-rhetorical framing’ serves as a legitimation tactic. To secure support for deep change, I argue, political leaders must tell the people what this change means for the future. But how can we know the future? By situating the event of a new constitution at a specific point in a familiar temporal arc, leaders imply what comes next. These frames carry an implicit promise to secure or subvert an expected future, shaping belief in what is possible—and what is inevitable.
About the Speaker： Nomi Claire Lazar is Associate Professor of Politics and Associate Dean of Faculty at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. She is the author of a variety of books and articles in the areas of political thought, legal theory and public policy. Raised in a politically conscious family in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, Assoc Prof Lazar has had a lifelong interest in strategy and political ethics, and in the ways in which institutions and rules interact with individual choices. Assoc Prof Lazar holds a PhD in political science from Yale University, an MA in Legal and Political Theory from the School of Public Policy, University College, London, and a BA (Hons) in Philosophy from Trinity College, University of Toronto. Prior to her PhD, she worked on youth justice reform in the Criminal Law Policy section of the Department of Justice, Canada. She has also worked for and consulted with governments in the areas of conservation and regulatory policy.
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