Culture in Law and Development: Nurturing Positive Change

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Product Details
Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.4 X 1.4 inches | 1.98 pounds
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About the Author
Lan Cao is the Betty Hutton Williams Professor of International Economic Law at Chapman University. She joined the Dale E. Fowler School of Law in 2013. Previously, she was on the faculty at William & Mary Law School for more than a decade. She has also served on the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law. Her extensive publishing history includes articles in the California Law Review, the Michigan Law Review, and the Virginia Journal of International Law. She has also published a well-reviewed novel related to themes in the proposed book: Monkey Bridge (1997) and The Lotus and the Storm (2014)

"Culture matters enormously in shaping the outcome of development and rule of law-building programs. The challenge is appreciating not only the strength of deeply rooted cultural practices but also the empowering possibilities for change. Professor Lan Cao tackles these issues forthrightly, emphasizing that the potential for progressive change exists in dynamic ways in different cultures and should be nurtured conscientiously in partnership with domestic reformers, particularly when equality and human dignity are at stake. Advancing a robust notion of development, Cao argues that cultural norms that "marginalize the poor or subordinate women" - contrary to Â"universal values" of "human freedom and human capability" - should be changed. This can and should be done respectfully together with local reformers who know their culture best and are working for progressive change from within." -- Jane Stromseth, Georgetown University Law Center, American Journal of International Law

"Culture in Law and Development is a pioneering book that systematically shows how culture has been neglected - at significant cost - in a range of separate but interrelated fields, from public international law to international human rights to international relations to law and development. Although almost everyone acknowledges that 'culture is important, ' few scholars are willing to engage the thorny issues raised by culture - for example, what should we do when local cultures are antithetical to international development norms? In this fascinating and provocative book, Professor Lan Cao takes on this challenge, arguing that culture can be changed, should be changed, and has been changed before."
Amy Chua, John M. Duff, Jr. Professor of Law, Yale Law School

"This path-breaking book examines the necessity of engaging forthrightly with cultural questions if rule of law building efforts are to be sustainable and effective. With insight and sensitivity, [the author] explores both the challenges and opportunities of addressing culture directly. How, for example, can tensions between international standards and local practices be addressed? How can opportunities for creative engagement and empowerment of marginalized voices be nurtured? Highlighting the often fluid nature of cultural traditions and debates, [the author] offers innovative approaches that will be of broad interest to rule of law practitioners, scholars, policy makers, and advocates on the ground." -Jane Stromseth, Professor of Law, Georgetown University

"Lan Cao's book emphasizes that informal institutions and social practice matter as much as rules and law, and she offers invaluable guidance to policymakers seeking to assist post-conflict societies and jumpstart economic development. She persuasively argues that this cannot be done without taking account of culture and trauma -engaging a society with sympathy and internal understanding, while conceding how hard it is for an outsider to facilitate change. The current chaos in the world instructs that there is no end to history - and that a sense of poetry may be necessary to intervene effectively in mitigating the hardship of the poor." -Ruth Wedgwood, Edward Burling Professor of International Law and Diplomacy, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Washington, D.C., and former U.S. member, United Nations Human Rights Committee