Project Components


PAL began with an effort to study the mechanics of autocratic legalism in Brazil, India, and South Africa through in-depth studies on these three countries.

This stage, called PAL BISA 1, is unfolding into multiple outputs.

  • A book on Brazil is well along and will be published in Portuguese and English this year, edited by Oscar Vieira, Fabio de Sa e Silva, Raquel Pimenta, and Marta Machado.
  • An interview symposium focusing on India will be published by the Jindal Global Law Review, coordinated by Deepa Das Acevedo.
  • Separate country studies will be presented at the Lisbon Conference and published in 2022 by VRÜ-World Comparative Law.


Building on the prior PAL country studies, the Topical Laboratory will break new ground in research on autocratic legalism by looking comparatively at the three countries. T

here is very little thematic, comparative work on autocratic legalism and PAL is pioneering in developing methods for such studies.

We will organize three country teams to chart and compare autocratic moves and resistances in each of the countries, looking at five areas:

  • Gender/sexuality;
  • Religion, custom and culture;
  • Corruption;
  • Constitutional law and courts; and
  • Power centralization/decentralization.

The teams will start research in early 2022.


As the PAL team started looking at developments in the original countries and elsewhere, they realized that transnational actors could play important roles.

States, international courts and organizations, and NGOs are supporting resistance to authoritarianism around the world, but we know little about how this is being done and with what effect. PAL is creating a network to fill the gap.

Called TRECA, the nascent network is coordinated by Bojan Bugaric, Natasha Linstaedt, and David Trubek.