Nick Cheesman

Jun 30, 2016

Opposing the Rule of Law

How Myanmar's Courts Make Law and Order

Cambridge University Press 2015

purchase at Working against the tendency to conflate the analytic categories "rule of law," and "law and order," Nick Cheesman's Opposing the Rule of Law: How Myanmar's Courts Make Law and Order (Cambridge University Press, 2015) makes a significant two-fold contribution, one as "the first serious attempt for half a century to situate Myanmar's courts in its politics;" and the other, that rather than reproduce the binaried, linear thinking inherent to terms like "rule by law," Cheesman exposes and repairs a significant conceptual weakness in rule of law scholarship through the analytic lens of law and order. Martin Krygier writes, "Opposing the Rule of Law combines three elements rarely seen in one place: fine-grained, indeed masterly, unravelling of Myanmar criminal laws social and political history, character and significance; an original and sophisticated account of the rule of law and its enemies in Myanmar, generally, and in principle; and uncommonly fine prose. It is a tour de force, instructive--indeed illuminating--and a pleasure to read." Eve Darian-Smith highlights the study's rich empirical research and assesses the book as "an extraordinary achievement." Engaging with Opposing the Rule of Law'scareful and nuanced analysis reveals that this praise, from leading scholars of rule of law, social theory, legal anthropology, and socio-legal studies, is well deserved.
Jothie Rajah is Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation, Chicago. She writes on rule of law discourses and can be reached at

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