Call for Papers – for Law and Geography session at the 2014 RGS Annual Conference, London 26-29 August 2014


Session title: Legal Geography: Moving Forward with Methods & Materialities

“Our relationships, social bonds, would be airy as clouds were there only contracts between subjects… the object… stabilizes our relationships… makes our history slow.” (Michel Serres, 1995: 87)

This legal geography stream proceeds from the assumption (which appears to be widely accepted, though critiques are always welcome) that space, society and law are at a nexus, that they are co-constituted. Legal geography has, in other words, been ‘born’. Given this assumption, the stream aims to consider how the cross-discipline is being applied and extended, presenting papers that identify new and ongoing lines of spatio-legal inquiry, research and theory.

In particular we are interested in the following questions:

· Engaging with the RGS IBG 2014 Conference theme, how does legal geography engage with practices and theories of co-production? How are places and spaces legally and socio-spatially co-produced?

· What is the role here for imagination? Can spatio-legal imaginations underpin decision-making, even if they are often out of view? How do ‘imaginative geographies’ mesh with legal provisions and practices? How does ‘space talk’ work in legal decision-making?

· What are the relationships between legal understandings of representation and geographical theories of non-representation? How do legal orderings depend on affective attitudes (Weber) or embodiment? How can non-representative understandings operate in legal processes, which have their own formulations of ‘representation’?

· How is the spatio-legal implicated in processes of managing objects – of ‘how matter is made to matter’ (Barad 2003)? How does it frame and marshal the arrangement of things in space? How is the spatio-materiality of law experienced by human (and other) subjects? How is law translated (Latour, 2005) into flows of matter and the resulting assemblages of materials that form buildings, streets and the urban landscape?

· How do legal discourse and practices contribute to the making and controlling of spaces at multiple scales? What are the relationships between scale and jurisdiction or between territory, jurisdiction and sovereignty?

· How do legal discourses or practices operate to create ‘geographies of (in)justice’? How can legal processes of place-making be critiqued through the lenses of critical geography and progressive urbanism or rurality?

· Are gender, heteronormativity or race embedded in legal geographical processes? How do relationships of power take legal geographical form?

· What are the dangers of conflating law and geography? What methodological problems will be encountered? What claims to knowledge and validity can such hybrid analysis of law and geography claim?

In each of the above we welcome analyses that consider prospective, contemporary and/or historical experiences of legal geography, bringing hybrid law/geography tools and techniques to bear on past, present or future events or understandings.

We hope these questions stimulate debate but they are not intended to be exclusionary in any way. Any paper that engages, critiques or dismisses legal geography would be very welcome.

Please send a proposed abstract of 200-300 words, together with a title to the paper to Luke Bennett (Sheffield Hallam University, or Antonia Layard (University of Bristol, from 1st January 2014, by 20th February, 2014.


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About lukebennett13
Reader & Course Leader, BSc Hons Real Estate, Sheffield Hallam University, UK. I TEACH: built environment law to construction, surveying, real estate and environmental management students. I RESEARCH: metal theft; urban exploration & recreational trespass; occupiers' perceptions of liability for their premises. I THINK: about the links between ideas, materialities and practices in the built environment. I WAS: an environmental lawyer working in commercial practice for 17 years before I joined academia in 2007. I EXPLAIN: the aims of my blogsite site here: LINKS: Twitter: @lukebennett13; Archive: EPITAPH: “He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances.” James Joyce, Dubliners

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