SLSA Conference Themes 2011

Socio-legal Approaches to International Economic Law: Text, Subtext, Context
Convenor: Amanda Perry-Kessaris, School of Law, SOAS, University of London 

International economic activities—trade, investment, finance, development assistance - have positive, negative, variable and unknown impacts upon other forms of social interaction. They are also conducted and regulated by an ever widening tangle of public, private and third sector actors.  What distinctive contributions can socio-legal approaches (empirical, normative, analytical) make to our understanding of the text, subtext and context of international economic law? The convenor of this theme welcomes proposals for papers engaging directly with this question and hopes to facilitate the emergence of single and co-authored publications from it.

Criminalising Commerce?
Convenors: Christine Parker, Law School, University of Melbourne ( and
Fiona Haines, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne (

The theme concerns the use of criminal and regulatory law to attempt to regulate business conduct. It critically examines the impetuses and justifications for criminalisation of business conduct and the consequences of criminalisation vis-a-vis other modalities of business regulation.

The convenors of the theme will present some of their own research on cartel criminalisation and are actively soliciting other papers on cartel criminalisation and the use of criminalisation in other areas of business regulation, as well as research papers on compliance and deterrence in business regulation more generally.

Systems, Complexity and Autopoiesis: Critical Perspectives and Applications
Convenor: Tom Webb, The Law School, Lancaster University (

Complexity theory has, for several decades, occupied scholarly interest in both the hard and social sciences. In recent years there has been a stirring of interest in legal academic circles, but proponents remain isolated from one another.  Conversely, there remains a steady volume of interest in autopoietic theory and the law and more generally across all disciplines of the social sciences.  On rare occasions complexity has combined with autopoiesis, but few attempts have been made to rival autopoiesis as the leading systems theory of the social sciences.  Outlets to foster an interest and inter-theory debate under the systems theory umbrella internationally, and particularly within the United Kingdom, are rather uncommon.  This stream hopes to generate a critical and lively conversation between and within both theories, with a view to furthering those theories both individually, and collectively.

It is hoped that through the production of such an inter-theory conversation it will be possible to make clearer useful connections and distinctions between these related theories, expose applications for their respective frameworks, and demonstrate novel approaches to their understanding.  It is also hoped that the stream will lead to a sustained network of scholars beyond the conference.  The goal being to create and sustain a network consisting of not only lawyers, but also social scientists, and perhaps some members of the hard science community, leading to future discussion, research and publications.

Whilst the core aim of the stream is to encourage inter-theory discussion, papers making use of either complexity or autopoietic theory in isolation with a view to advancing scholarship are welcomed.  Papers concerning systems approaches not captured under the heads of autopoiesis or complexity theory will likewise be accommodated.  Similarly, papers speaking against the utility of either theory (or systems theories generally) to law or related matters, are also invited.  It is hoped that, due to the varied systems perspectives of the audience, all papers will stimulate – as a by-product – inter-theory debate.

Auditors, Advocates, and Experts - Monitoring, Negotiating, and (Re) Creating Rights
Convenor: Heath Cabot, Hellenic Studies, Princeton University (

In scholarship concerned with the ethnographic study of law, there has been an increasing interest in how institutions devoted to advocacy, research, and oversight both reinforce and contest legal frameworks. This panel explores how institutions and practitioners, who are not formally positioned as legal actors, engage with, and shape, rights-based categories and the legal frameworks in which they are embedded. We consider how such non-legal actors (both "expert" and explicitly "non expert") affect both the practical application of rights as well as their formal articulation, whether through monitoring and audit, activism, research, techno-scientific interventions, or individual casework and advocacy. How can we characterize the role of non-legal actors in monitoring, negotiating, and creating rights? Which techniques and strategies do practitioners employ and what rationales and discourses do they invoke in their engagements with rights categories and frameworks? What other domains of knowledge and experience (technical, ethical, cultural, and affective) become salient through these labors and practices? Papers examine a diverse array of institutions – NGOs and research organizations, as well as institutions at international, national, and supranational levels of governance. As such, authors explore not only how non-legal institutional and individual actors can be framed in their relationship to explicitly legal institutions, but also the imagined and expected impact of practitioners on the negotiation and creation of rights regimes.

Modalities of Law, Violence and State Practice in South Asia
Convenors: Pratiksha Baxi, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University (, Anupama Roy, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University (, Ujjwal Kumar Singh, Department of Political Science, University of Delhi  (

This panel brings together papers which detail how violence is imbricated in state practices of rule and the modalities by which these practices are recreated, reproduced, and reconstituted through violence. The panelists will describe how violence is implicated in state formation and legitimation practices of the state, and simultaneously how violence is constitutive of caste, sexuality, community and kinship in everyday and extraordinary contexts in South Asia. In other words, the panelists will explore ways in which violence is constitutive of state and non-state law, as two fields of law and society which are mutually constitutive. We propose to examine aspects of foundational and reiterative violence at different registers to illustrate the excess of representational practices of violence in the domain of the everyday and the extraordinary in contemporary South Asia. More specifically, the papers follow the figure of the raped woman, the terror suspect, the naxalite, the labourer and the tortured subject to list the modalities of violence in neo-liberal contexts in South Asia.

Challenging Ownership: Meanings Space, Time and Identity
Convenors: Penny English, Anglia Law School, Anglia Ruskin University (, Sarah Blandy, School of Law, University of Leeds ( and Helen Carr, Kent Law School, University of Kent (

This theme embraces conflicts over ownership as well as challenges to the meaning of the concept of 'ownership' as well the relationship between law and spatial boundaries.

Papers are welcomed which address any context in which the law seeks to define, regulate, limit or conceptualise the ownership of tangible or intangible property.

In particular this might encompass:

  • the emergence of new forms of land ownership or regulation;
  • the extent of rights to intangible, indigenous and cultural property;
  • the boundaries between public and private ownership e.g. in the context of environmental and heritage protection;
  • the relationship of property to individual or collective identity (social, local or national); or
  • the temporal dimension of property.

 Contributions which cross traditional subject boundaries are particularly welcome.