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In the spring of 1999, I published a little book with a big title: The Cultural Study of Law, Reconstructing Legal Scholarship. The ambition of the book was to clear a space within law schools for a study of law that was not directed at the issue of legal reform. I urged a theoretical approach free of the insistent question: "What should the law be?" The reasons for my plea were not new. The rule of law, I argued, is not just a set of rules to be applied to an otherwise independent social order. Rather, law is, in part, constitutive of the self-understanding of individuals and communities. In particular, Americans often identify themselves as citizens within a polity characterized by the rule of law. This is not the only way in which Americans imagine themselves, but it is a powerful way for many people.

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