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Copyright (c) 1999 The American Society of Comparative Law, Inc.
The American Journal of Comparative Law

ARTICLE: John Henry Merryman and Comparative Legal Studies:
A Dialogue

Winter, 1999

47 Am. J. Comp. L. 3




Who are our comparatists? Since the instrument of the compari son is the comparatist himself, it seems important that information about the comparatist should be accessible to those interested in evalu ating his results. In fact, I argue that a meaningful apprehension of any significant comparative discourse must involve an assessment of the gaze of the comparatist on the law and the law-world which he purports to re-present and, therefore, an appreciation of the referential framework which sustains that gaze. It follows that there is a merit in making explicit the basic assumptions that underlie a comparatist's choice in formulating his questions and identifying the evidence he regards as relevant to answer them.

Anyone having taken an interest in comparative legal studies in the course of the last decades will be aware of Professor John Mer ryman's signal contribution to the field. I feel privileged that Professor Merryman, who is Nelson Bowman Sweitzer and Marie B. Sweitzer Professor of Law, Emeritus, and Affiliated Professor in the Depart ment of Art at Stanford University, kindly agreed to reflect upon the assumptions underlying his activity as a comparatist and to share his insights into the theory and practice of comparative legal studies.

The conversation that is reported here took place at the Stanford Law School from January 19-23, 1997. For nearly an entire week, Professor Merryman generously took time away from a busy schedule to answer my questions. I am in his debt for agreeing to participate in this project and ...
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