Greg Urban Arthur Hobson Quinn Professor of Anthropology
Comparative constitutional discourse
The goal of this project is to discover the force or forces that have impelled the
spread of modern national constitutions over the past two hundred plus years. I
am investigating this phenomenon through a comparative study of the wording in
the present and past constitutions of the 192 countries currently recognized by
the United Nations. Three papers leading up to this project have already been
published in 2008: "The Circulation of Secularism," "Freedom and Culture," and
"Citizenship as a Mode of Belonging by Choice." Two papers that are direct
outgrowths of the project have already been drafted and presented in different
venues but not yet submitted: "A Sentence That Shaped the Modern World" and
"The Recognition of Indigenous Identity." I envision a book publication emerging
from the project. At the same time, I have begun to ethnographically explore the
attitudes people have towards their constitutions. The goal of this latter
ethnographic work is an interactive website to which citizens can contribute.

Additional links will be added to this page as they become available.

Greg Urban, Department of Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, 325 University Museum, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104  |  Phone: 215.898.0895  |  Email: