The Democratic Deficit: Comparative Experiences and Challenges


Past Event

The Democratic Deficit: Comparative Experiences and Challenges

March 25, 2022
11:30 AM - 12:45 PM
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Zoom Webinar


This session will explore the situations in which law offers less democratic warrant than some might feel it could–or should–hold. Through an examination of trade law, US constitutional law, and comparative constitutionalism, this conversation will trace the origins of the perception of the “democratic deficit” and consider how to assess that perception in practice today.

This event is a part of Columbia Academy on Law in Global Affairs (CALGA), a series of online open-access events, in which Columbia Law School faculty present their research and debate current issues with colleagues from around the globe.

CALGA is cosponsored by Columbia Law School, the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative LawThe Committee on Global Thought, and Columbia | Global Centers.

About the Speakers 

A prolific scholar, Jedediah S. Purdy joined the Columbia Law School faculty in 2019 after 15 years at Duke Law School. He teaches and writes about environmental, property, and constitutional law as well as legal and political theory.

Purdy’s most recent book, This Land Is Our Land: The Struggle for a New Commonwealth, explores how the land has historically united and divided Americans, shows how environmental politics has always been closely connected with issues of distribution and justice, and describes humanity as an “infrastructure species. In his previous book, After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene, he traced the long history of environmental law as a central feature of American political and cultural life. His other books include For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today, The Meaning of Property: Freedom, Community and the Legal Imaginationand A Tolerable Anarchy: Rebels, Reactionaries, and the Making of American Freedom. His legal scholarship has appeared in the Yale Law JournalHarvard Law ReviewUniversity of Chicago Law ReviewDuke Law JournalCornell Law ReviewNomos, and Ecology Law Quarterly, among others. He has published essays on topics ranging from Elena Ferrante’s novels and socialism to natural disasters and the New Green Deal in The Atlantic MonthlyThe New York TimesThe New Yorker, Die Zeit, and Democracy Journal.

Purdy clerked for Judge Pierre N. Leval of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York City. A member of the New York State Bar, he is a contributing editor of The American Prospect and serves on the editorial board of Dissent.

Madhav Khosla

Madhav Khosla works across a range of themes in public law and political theory. Much of his writing and research focuses on comparative constitutional law, especially in South Asia and India. His work has been cited by courts in India and Pakistan.

Khosla earned a Ph.D. in political theory at Harvard University, where he was awarded the Edward M. Chase Prize for “the best dissertation on a subject relating to the promotion of world peace.”

His books include India’s Founding Moment: The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy (Harvard University Press 2020), which was an Economist Best Book of 2020 and co-winner of the Order of the Coif Book Award 2021, The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution (ed. with Sujit Choudhry and Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Oxford University Press 2016), and Unstable Constitutionalism: Law and Politics in South Asia (ed. with Mark Tushnet, Cambridge University Press 2015). In addition, Khosla’s writings have been published in academic journals such as the American Journal of Comparative Law and the International Journal of Constitutional Law, as well as popular forums like The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times, and Time.

Prior to joining the Columbia Law faculty on January 1, 2022, Khosla was the Ambedkar Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Columbia University, an associate professor of political science at India’s Ashoka University, and a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.

Photo © Gauri Gill.

David Singh Grewal is Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law. His teaching and research interests include legal and political theory; intellectual history, particularly the history of economic thought; global economic governance and international trade law; intellectual property law and biotechnology; and law and economics. His first book, Network Power: The Social Dynamics of Globalization, was published by Yale University Press in 2008. His second book, The Invention of the Economy, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. He has published on legal topics in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, and several other law reviews, and on a variety of questions in political theory and intellectual history in several peer-reviewed journals. His public writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the BioBricks Foundation and a co-founder of the Law and Political Economy(opens in a new tab) blog. He was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows, and holds B.A. (Economics) and Ph.D. (Political Science) degrees from Harvard and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Contact Information

Nick Pozek