In the conference, Where Now? Moving Beyond Traditional Legal Geographies, participating scholars sought to expand the present intellectual boundaries of the critical legal geography project through a collaborative investigation of new themes and questions. Now, a decade later, the 2012 event is considered a legacy conference.
Published May 11, 2022
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The Baldy Center event led, in part, to the 2014 publication of a book edited by Irus Braverman, Nicholas Blomley, David Delaney, and Alexandre Kedar —
The Expanding Spaces of Law: A Timely Legal Geography,
Stanford University Press (2014)
2011 Resarch Grant Proposa1
Faculty Organizer: Irus Braverman, Associate Professor of Law
Original Description: Since its emergence in the early 1990s, critical legal geography has developed into a vibrant, interdisciplinary, and international scholarly project. Some evidence for this can be seen in the large number of special issues of journals and the increasing frequency of panels at professional meetings that are devoted to the topic. Investigating a wide range of topics such as property regimes, the Empire and postcolony, migration and labor, race and sexuality, as well as nationalism and its claims to security, practitioners of critical legal geography have increased awareness of the reciprocal, co-constitutive relationship of the socio-spatial and the socio-legal. Their work reveals how the institutions, practices and imaginaries of the legal are inextricably implicated in the social production of spatialities; and, of equal importance, how the complexities and contingencies of space, in turn, illuminate otherwise obscure dimensions of the legal.
Linking law and space, and underwriting the modifier ‘critical’, is a fundamental interest in discerning the operations of power. Law is centrally implicated in the constitution, alteration, legitimation, critique and performance of myriad power relations. It is also the case that distinctively legal modalities of structuring social space are essential to these processes. It is commonly asserted that law is ‘for’ the establishment and maintenance of order, the promotion of freedom and realization of justice. But we know that which arrangements count as order, freedom and justice, are deeply contentious.
While much excellent work has been done in bringing the hows and whys of social spatialization to bear on legal analysis, the organizers of the proposed workshop suggest that there are vast, unexplored domains of the spatio-legal that require the invention of new interpretive resources, the incorporation of new vantage points, and, most importantly, new voices. The proposed workshop thus seeks to expand the present intellectual boundaries of the critical legal geography project through a collaborative investigation of new themes and questions. The substance of the workshop will draw on and contribute to innovative developments in socio-spatial theory and bring these insights and interpretive resources to the tasks of socio-legal scholarship.
While it is safe to say that the predominant understanding of ‘space’ within critical legal geography is one that privileges the configuration of spaces, the lines that define them, and the rules, relationships and ideologies that make these meaningful, there is much more to ‘space’ than this. For example, there are aspects of the space-power-law nexus that may productively be investigated by prioritizing themes of motion, mobility, and immobilization. Also, there may be dimensions of the spatio-legal that can be uncovered by critical exploration of visibility regimes, or the social organization of seeing and being seen, exposing and disclosing, and hiding. Insofar as such visibility regimes are historical constructions, contemporary transformations in the technologies of seeing (and of not being seen) may entail fundamental shifts in the lived realities of law. Moving the project of critical legal geography in these unconventional directions is sure to provide a fresh and unique perspective to the studies of law and society.
A second objective of our proposed workshop highlights another meaning of the term “hidden”: hidden as overlooked. Under this objective, we seek to expand the practice of critical legal geography itself so as to incorporate new voices, perspectives, and projects. The facilities of the Baldy Center are unique in their suitability for remedying this. The organizers of the workshop intend to invite the participation of scholars from under-represented areas of the socio-legal profession to join with established and emerging scholars to develop and disseminate new and productive ways of seeing the spatialities of law so as to better discern the workings of power.
The program will consist of individual publishable presentations from diverse scholars in a variety of disciplines and of collaborative round table discussions. The papers will be pre-circulated and then collected as chapters of a book to be edited by the organizers.