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David Singh Grewal

David Singh Grewal is Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law, where he teaches in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy doctoral program. He is one of the co-founders of the LPE Blog. His teaching and research interests include legal and political theory; intellectual history, particularly the history of economic thought; global economic governance and international trade law; intellectual property law and biotechnology; and law and economics. 

His work on topics relating to “law and political economy” dates back to undergraduate, law school, and graduate school interests in the place of economics and economic reasoning in political and legal argumentation, past and present. In the law reviews, he has pursued these interests through a study of the role of “neoliberalism” in contemporary law (in an essay co-authored with Jedediah Purdy); a long review of Thomas Piketty’s groundbreaking book, Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century, which sought to put Piketty’s findings on inequality in a broader legal-theoretic context; and a history of the forgetting and “rediscovery” of economic inequality in legal and political theory (also with Jedediah Purdy). Along with three other co-founders of the LPE Blog, Grewal has also contributed to a framing piece on the “law and political economy” movement in contemporary legal scholarship, “Building a Law-and-Political-Economy Framework.” 

Central to the problem of neoliberalism is its constitutive other, democracy, which is often invoked without much by way of further specification of what it might mean. Again with Purdy, Grewal has analyzed the problem of democracy in modern liberal republics through a review of Richard Tuck’s seminal historical study, The Sleeping Sovereign. See their blog post on this topic: “No Democracy.” 

Grewal has also pursued “law and political economy” themes in more applied work on international economic law and the political economy of technology. His work in international economic law builds on the general account of globalization that he offered in his 2008 book, Network Power: The Social Dynamics of Globalization. Along with co-author Cory Adkins, he has published a piece on changing views of international trade in the American constitutional order and a criticism of an expansion of investor-state dispute settlement through an analysis of an overreaching Canadian arbitral decision. In more popular writing, he has studied changes to world trade law under the Trump Administration, criticized the expansion of investment protections in international law, questioned the use of “fast-track” procedures to expedite free trade deals, and, with LPE co-founder, Amy Kapczynski, defended India’s generic drug production as a legitimate and important part of the world trade order. More recently, he has offered a critical analysis of changes to the post-war liberal international order under the pressure of neoliberalism.

Grewal’s interest in law and technology stems in part from his work as a member of the Board of Directors of the BioBricks Foundation, a group dedicated to biotechnology in the public interest, including through the open dissemination of knowledge and practices in synthetic biology. He has written about this topic in a study of the legal and economic dynamics of “peer production” in biotechnology and beyond.

Outside the law reviews, his work on the history of economic and political thought has concerned the “political theology” of laissez-faire economics, the constitution of capitalism, and the place of market ordering in the history of philosophy, reflecting interests that will culminate in his forthcoming book, The Invention of the Economy: A History of Economic Thought.