Jeremy Kleidosty

Constitutionalism and Comparative Political Theory in Monotheistic Traditions

As a political theorist I am engaged in an effort to redefine the subfield of Comparative Political Theory in order to establish a set of shared research questions and methods that will make the field more rigorous, contextually sensitive, and honest in its normative aims. My specialization in Constitutionalism allows me to compare political norms, institutions, and texts across wide swaths of time and space with a focus on how philosophy and political theory influence their development, legitimacy, and effectiveness.

I am extremely interested in how members of different faith communities recognize others, and each other, in their social and state arrangements. The various appeals by political thinkers and actors to some sort of overriding natural law, divine law, or religious authority share several features between Christian and Muslim-majority societies. However, discovering differences in institutional development, cultural mores, and of what constitutes law, are also highly useful in understanding how so many people have come to the conclusion that Western/Christian societies are somehow bound for an inevitable clash with Islamic societies. I am focusing on Tunisian constitutionalism and its development from the 19th Century to the present, as well as engaging with the work of Ibn Khaldun alongside various European thinkers, such as Montequieu, whose work is particularly apt to consider alongside his.

My research highlights the cross-fertilization of these political ideas and norms from the Middle Ages onward, and demonstrates that comparative political theory offers tools to go beyond dialogue into creating new hybrid ideas that may better serve today’s increasingly interconnected and global communities, while still respecting local narratives and traditions.