This essay is a contribution to a symposium at the January 2005 annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Conflict of Laws. More than ten years ago, German theorist Gunther Teubner called for the creation of an "intersystemic conflicts law," derived not just from collisions between the distinct nation-states of private international law, but from what he described as "conflicts between autonomous social subsystems." Since then, the web of intersystemic lawmaking Teubner described has only grown more complex. The collision of these multiple legal and quasi-legal normative systems requires, as Teubner suggested, a broader approach to conflict of laws, one that includes scholars from other disciplines as well as legal scholars focusing on areas beyond conflicts. Moreover, we need to think of conflict of laws not just as a series of legal puzzles, such as whether jurisdiction is appropriate under x circumstances, or how a particular choice-of-law problem should be resolved, or under what conditions a court should recognize the normative judgment of another community. Conflicts is potentially a broader topic than that, engaging interdisciplinary scholars concerned with citizenship, community affiliation, and the social construction of place, and interacting with legal scholars studying so-called "public" international law, trade law, and non-state law-making and norm-creation.
For the past several years, I have been exploring what it might mean to adopt this sort of broad conflicts perspective. In this brief essay, I seek to summarize my thoughts so far and point the way towards future scholarship.
51 Wayne L. Rev. 1105 (2005)