Working the boundaries of law
Coordinators: Morag McDermont (University of Bristol)
Our experience in Oñati
This colloquium brought together academics from socio-legal studies and the broader social sciences to explore conceptual approaches to, and evolving understanding of, practices, subjectivities and relationships at the boundaries of law. It emerged from an ERC funded research programme – New Sites of Legal Consciousness – led by Professor Morag McDermont (University of Bristol, UK) that has raised issues about the changing boundaries of legal authority and legal consciousness. The project has focused on scenes of advice-giving in which translations are enacted between the law and everyday problems of employment, debt, homelessness and more. This research has raised critical questions about how the boundaries of law are constructed, negotiated and traversed in practice. Participants came from Australia, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US. Discussions took place around four themes: • Legal Imaginaries: How do we incorporate imaginings of law into frameworks for understanding? How do our own imaginaries frame the ways we research ‘law’? • Boundaries and borderlands: What sorts of work inhabit the borderlands of law? What work do borders do, and what is the work of bordering? How are boundaries crossed, worked and translated? What translations happen in borderlands? How are boundaries being transformed? How do people work on contradictions of law? • Relational labour: Negotiations, emotions and relations at the margins of law; What sort of translations take place in relations? How do we take into account the relational dimensions of law? How does law ‘takes place’ in relational settings? • Practices and strategies at the margins: What do the practices and counter practices taking place at the margins of the legal system tell us about the nature of law? What critical pedagogies are in action? How do those at the social and economic margins organise and mobilise? How are ‘legal needs’ manifested? Papers from the colloquium will be published in a special issue of Onati Socio-Legal Series in 2017. For more details of the New Sites of Legal Consciousness research see www.bristol.ac.uk/law/research/centres-themes/aanslc/.