Ten Theses on LPE of Foreign Policy

Ganesh Sitaraman – 

In many areas of law and policy, political economy thinking has not yet become mainstream. People often separate politics from economics to a degree that is unrealistic, and they undervalue how economic power can be used for political ends. American foreign policy today, I think, suffers from these problems. Over at the American Prospect, I’ve offered ten theses on the relationship between political economy and foreign policy. They are stylized for effect, and thus leave out some nuance, but my hope is to start a conversation on what the consequences are of placing political economy at the center of foreign policy thinking.

Ganesh Sitaraman is a Chancellor Faculty Fellow, Professor of Law, and Director of the Program in Law and Government at Vanderbilt Law School.


Announcing the New Law and Political Economy Project

A collaboration of law faculty across several law schools announces a new initiative, the Law and Political Economy (LPE) Project. The Project will bring together a network of legal scholars, practitioners, and students developing innovative methods to challenge the dominance of market fundamentalism within legal scholarship and practice today. It is currently centered at Yale Law School, and partners with a wide range of other institutions.

The Project seeks to offer an alternative vision for law and legal scholarship that starts from the premise that politics and the economy cannot be separated and that both are undergirded in essential respects by law.

Yale Law School professor and project co-director Amy Kapczynski noted the motivation for the project: “We live in a time of increasing inequality, eroding democratic institutions, and accelerating ecological destruction. Law has fueled these crises and will be central to reckoning with them.”

Conventional legal scholarship fails to address these problems and, by relying too much on free-market models, may even reinforce the perception that they are beyond redress. Columbia Law Professor and project co-director Jedediah Purdy explained, “A new wave of legal scholarship needs to move beyond conventional divisions between ‘public’ and ‘private’ law, and between ‘economic’ and ‘social’ issues. The legal subfield of ‘law and economics’ has tended to focus on questions of wealth maximization and efficiency without regard to distribution, while public law questions concerning constitutional rights and democratic self-rule are too often treated as separate from questions of economic inequality and concentrations of private power.”

Building on the energy of the emerging law and political economy movement, the LPE Project aims to reconnect conversations about the economy to questions of dignity, belonging, and power. The Project aims to transform legal scholarship and pedagogy by centering issues of economic power, racial and gender subordination, and meaningful democratic inclusion. It aims to move beyond postwar models of the liberal welfare state in order to develop new policy solutions, intellectual approaches, and political strategies adequate to the crises of our time.

In pursuit of these goals, the LPE Project will support scholars working across an array of doctrinal areas and disciplines through the development of conferences, working groups, and scholarly networks. The Project will contribute to legal pedagogy by developing seminars, lectures, and course materials that foreground political economy, and integrate issues of racial capitalism and social and ecological reproduction. In addition, the Project will continue to develop the LPE Blog as a space to catalyze scholarship, test ideas, and foster debate.

The Project will also reach beyond the academy to connect scholars with activists, practitioners, and policy specialists. LPE Project Executive Director Corinne Blalock said that this approach “will ensure both that LPE work helps to shape policy-making and that social mobilizations and institutional debates inform LPE work in an ongoing way.”

The Law and Political Economy Project is funded by a grant from the Hewlett Foundation as part of its Beyond Neoliberalism Initiative. It is led by four faculty directors: Yale Law School Professor of Law Amy Kapczynski, Yale Law School Professor of Law David Singh Grewal, Columbia Law School Professor of Law Jedediah Purdy, and President of Demos and Associate Professor at Brooklyn Law School K. Sabeel Rahman.

The LPE Blog, launched in 2017, can be viewed at lpeblog.org.

Inquiries concerning the LPE Project can be directed to:

Corinne Blalock, Executive Director

Amy Kapczynski, Faculty Director

David Singh Grewal, Faculty Director

Jedediah Purdy, Faculty Director

Sabeel Rahman, Faculty Director

Imperium, Dominium, Terra

This post is part of our symposium on Quinn Slobodian’s Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of NeoliberalismRead the rest of the symposium here. 

Quinn Slobodian –

9780674979529About a year before Globalists was published, I presented in Mattias Kumm’s colloquium on Global Constitutionalism at the WZB Social Science Center. It seemed like an ordinary talk until the end when the first question came from someone who introduced himself as an international lawyer from Spain. “What are the normative implications of your talk?” he asked. I was stunned. It took me a moment to figure out why.

I’d never been asked that question before.

Historians ask about sources, they ask you to push your story forward or back—or forward and back—or wonder about unheard voices and unseen actors, or dynamics of power, or subtleties of translation and evolving meaning, about temporality and meta-narratives and space and agency and disciplinary placement and categories of analysis, but very rarely—if ever—do they ask about normative implications.

A couple of years and miles from Berlin, I’ve come to expect and even demand the question.  There are, after all, always normative implications to our work. Why not talk about them openly?

The LPE blog has been generous enough to gather pieces from seven legal scholars about my book. Few shy from the question of their Spanish colleague.

All are critics of the settlement I call alternately neoliberal globalism or ordoglobalism that coalesced in its present form in the 1990s around institutions like international investment law, European competition law, and international treaty organizations like the WTO and NAFTA.

The blog authors’ interventions cluster around questions of description and prescription. I will argue that the former supply the grounds for the latter.

What we see tells us what to do. I will conclude by suggesting what we are still missing.

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1LPE Round-up

Earlier this fall, the LPE blog launched 1LPE, which aimed to provide a critical countervailing perspective on the doctrinal areas traditionally constituting the 1L curriculum. Take a look at what we’ve published – and get ready for more posts after the break!

Criminal Law




Constitutional Law

Job Announcement: Executive Director of the Law and Political Economy Project

We are thrilled to announce our search for the inaugural Executive Director of the Law and Political Economy Project. Details below, and please share widely. Download the announcement here. We also welcome applications for the part-time blog editor position, posted here.

The Law and Political Economy (LPE) project at Yale Law School seeks a full-time Executive Director (ED). The ideal ED will play both a scholarly and organizational role.

The LPE project is a network of scholars, practitioners, and students working to develop innovative methods at the intersections of legal, political, and economic ordering, with special attention to democracy, economic inequality and power, and racialized and gendered inequality. We seek to make our work relevant to judging, advocacy, policy, and politics as well as scholarship more traditionally understood, and see our initiative as, in part, a response to the fraught political moment and an attempt to understand and address the longer-running problems that have contributed to it. This grant-funded initiative is housed at Yale Law School, and will coordinate closely with other key hubs of legal scholarship and advocacy, including Columbia Law School, Demos, and others.

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