Dissertation Title: States and Group Rights: Legal Pluralism and the Decentralization of Judicial Power
Committee: Rogers Smith, Tulia Falleti, Ian Lustick
Description: Why and when do states decentralize judicial power to ethnic and religious minority groups? In theory, we expect that states should seek to monopolize their coercive power and thus oppose potentially sovereignty-challenging devolutions of authority. Nevertheless, most states do devolve judicial power to minority groups, and my research project seeks to explain both why and how they do so. I create a conceptual typology to map six distinct types of judicial decentralization, and I examine one case of each, including Tanzania, Malawi, Egypt, Lebanon, the United Kingdom, and France. Based on within and cross-case comparison drawn from nineteen months of fieldwork in these six countries, I argue that the prior level of institutionalization of local judicial practices and the iterative process of political coalition building explain each type of judicial decentralization. My research engages with debates on the rule of law, the role of religion and traditional power in democratic states, state-society relations, and the study of comparative public law beyond formal constitutionalism.