Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Source Publication

Critical Legal Perspectives on Global Governance. Oxford, UK: Hart Publishing, 2014.


This essay is an extended reflection on the avenues of influence of a single article, one that is arguably the most cited contribution to scholarship on law and development of the last 40 years. In that article, published in the Wisconsin Law Review in 1974, David Trubek and Marc Galanter confidently identified and cogently parsed a ‘crisis’ in law and development studies in the United States. ‘Scholars in Self-Estrangement: Some Reflections on the Crisis in Law and Development Studies in the United States’ (hereinafter SISE), was undoubtedly a key intervention in the debate over US funding of law reform projects abroad of its time. Yet, as the research conducted for this essay has documented, it continues to be routinely cited by law and development scholars as well as many academics in other fields. In some ways, this tenacity is difficult to fathom—SISE was a piece that was produced at a particular moment of crisis in the field in the US and addresses itself specifically to that moment. It is a piece of writing that is admirably clear about its modest ambitions and the relatively narrow scope of the audience that it explicitly sought to address. The authors note that the paper originated in a report that had been produced for the Research Advisory Committee of the International Legal Centre. Further, they describe the crisis as affecting the ‘relatively small group of academics’ who are engaged in a ‘specialized area of US academic study concerned with the relationship between legal systems and the ‘development’— social, economic and political changes—occurring in third world countries’. And yet, the paper’s influence has extended well beyond the circumstances, political era and geographic location in which it was produced.


This is a draft paper, not the final published version, and should not be cited. Cite the final published version, which can be found on the Bloomsbury site.

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