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Federalism and the dynamics of subnational legal mobilization

By Alba Ruibal, Researcher at the National Scientific and Technological Research Council (CONICET), Argentina

Caption: "Mirtha Sisnero, main plaintiff in gender discrimination case in Salta, Argentina". 

The literature on law and social movements in Latin America has generally focused on the relationship between social actors with national high courts. This emphasis is partly due to the importance of the recent creation or empowerment of constitutional courts across the region, after democratization and judicial reform processes. However, understanding the dynamics of subnational legal mobilization in these settings is fundamental, given that, especially in federal regimes, socio-legal processes at the local level are crucial for the effective implementation and enforcement of rights.

My article Federalism and Subnational Legal Mobilization: Feminist Litigation Strategies in Salta, Argentina examines the factors that can influence subnational legal mobilization processes. …

Why rural land registration is not protecting land rights of women and vulnerable social groups

By Mekonnen Firew Ayano Postdoctoral fellow at the Center for African Studies, Harvard University


Photo in the office of a local official at Adami Tulu Jido Kombolcha,Bureau of Rural Land and Environmental Protection, Ethiopia, Dec. 2014.
My paper, Rural Land Registration in Ethiopia: Myths and Realities, considers the social consequences of rural land registration in Ethiopia, a countrywide program funded by Western development agencies in a recent wave of land registration initiatives spanning across Africa and developing countries elsewhere. In the past, policymakers in many African countries viewed traditional tenures as anachronistic obstacles to economic development and social progress and enacted centralized reforms to standardize local land tenure arrangements. The new registration initiatives are premised on what I call “pluralist formalization”, that is, a commitment to regularize local land tenuresby recognizing customary interests, in order to promote land markets and stren…

The Racial Disparity in Police Violence

By: Rory Kramer and Brianna Remster
Villanova University


Accusations of racial bias in police use of force have long been a touchstone for civil unrest in the United States. In the 1960s, cities across the country saw massive protests and violence, including Watts, Detroit, and Philadelphia. In the 1980s, Miami residents rioted after police were acquitted in the death of Arthur McDuffie, presaging the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Police violence also triggered riots in the early 21stcentury in Cincinnati and, most recently, police violence energized a national movement under the #BlackLivesMatter moniker in response to the deaths of young Black victims such as Michael Brown in Ferguson, Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, and Laquan McDonald in Chicago. Under the competing banner of #BlueLivesMatter, advocates suggest that Black people are more likely to be doing something wrong during police encounters than White people, thus precipitating police use of force. Despite thes…

The Christian Conservative Moves to Transform Law Through Legal Education

By Joshua C. Wilson, University of Denver
Amanda Hollis-Brusky, Pomona College



Picture:Wilson, Joshua C. 2018. Photograph. Liberty Law, Lynchburg, VA

 As “gatekeepers to the profession,” institutions of legal education are positioned to provide various forms of essential capital for movements interested in transforming law. They attract, socialize, and credential lawyers (human capital); establish or provide inroads to networks for group advancement (social capital); and create, spread, and legitimate ideas within the legal, political, and wider public's (intellectual and cultural capital).

In our article,"Higher Law: Can Christian Conservatives Transform Law Through Legal Education?", we analyze how three leading Christian conservative law schools and one training program organize themselves to produce the kinds of capital (human, intellectual, social, cultural) needed to effectively change the law.

Scholarship corroborates the proposition that law schools and legal…

Relieving the Tension: Lay Immigration Lawyering and the Management of Legal Violence

By Jamie Longazel 
John Jay College, City University of New York


Picture: Dominguez/Kut, R. (2018, June 30). Thousands gather at the steps of the Texas Capitol to rally against the recent immigration crackdown along the U.S./Mexico border. [Digital image]. Retrieved from http://www.kut.org/post/thousands-protest-trumps-zero-tolerance-immigration-policy-austin
News about the Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy understandably sent us into collective shock. But it’s important to note that a lot of what happened was not all that new. This particular set of atrocities took place against a legal backdrop where the U.S. has routinely denied basic rights to many immigrants and refugees. Unlike in criminal cases, for example, immigrants are not guaranteed access to counsel. One recent study found that only 37% of immigrants had legal representation in deportation proceedings.

My article, “Relieving the Tension: Lay Immigration Lawyering and the Management of Legal Violence” exam…

Postdoctoral Opportunity

The Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University seeks two postdoctoral fellows in law and society. We seek applicants whose research takes an intersectional approach to law and society, reflecting how gender, race, class, disability, sexuality, ethnic, community, immigration status, and national identities shape law and, in turn, how law shapes those identities. We will consider applicants beginning in the Spring of 2019, Summer of 2019 or Fall of 2019 for a single semester, a calendar year, or for the 2019-2020 academic year for up to two years of support per person. We prefer a two-year appointment, but are open to shorter terms. The fellows will receive mentoring from senior faculty, participate in our interdisciplinary community focused on intersectionality, and mentor undergraduate student research assistants. We expect fellow to participate in brown bag seminars, receptions, and other programming, mentor one or more undergraduate research assistants, and help to organize a wo…

Gender Bias in Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings

By Christina L. Boyd Department of Political Science, University of Georgia Paul M. Collins, Jr. Legal Studies Program and Department of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and
LoriA. Ringhand School of Law, University of Georgia

Biased and discriminatory behavior toward gender, racial, and ethnic minorities continues to affect many sectors of American society. The 2016 U.S. presidential election provides just the most recent high profile example of this phenomenon. Vigorous debate erupted throughout the campaign about the ways in which gender shaped public perceptions of both candidates, and the extent to which Hilary Clinton was harmed or helped by being the first woman nominated for president by a major political party.

Underlying this public debate is a rich academic literature exploring how gender and race affect the way we select and assess our leaders, including politicians, judges, and lawyers. In “The Role of Nominee Gender and Race at U.S. Supreme Court C…

The Importance of Diversifying Scholarship and Cross-National Cooperation in Sociolegal Studies

By Susan Sterett
Co-Editor, Law and Society Review

When I stream music online, some algorithm figures out my preferences from the musician I pick, and I hear lots of related music. Music aficionados explain that music streaming services might surprise a listener, in a slick way, or they might not. Now that so many people use streaming services, the average music listener (say, me) is less likely to discover music via someone more musically aware, or by buying student discount tickets to a show. Aiming for advertisers shapes how music streaming services target individuals. If I am not a music aficionado and listen to a range of music more limited than what I could like, the music streaming services might throw something at me I never would have run into otherwise. For many musicians who aren’t superstars and who need the average, not especially knowledgeable listener, a collection of music conceived as an album works less well than it did before streaming and iTunes. Music stream…

Accountability, Courts, Misogyny

By Julie Novkov University at Albany, SUNY



Whether or not Republicans acknowledge it, the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court will create a legitimacy problem for the Court. As comparative scholar Fionnuala Ní Aoláin explains, “allegations of sexual misconduct by senior judges and judicial nominees have been rare globally,” and when they have been raised in Costa Rica, India, and Namibia, the judges involved were removed through the operation of “a combination of criminal process, judicial investigation, and administrative/police investigations.” The US Supreme Court’s role both within the United States and as an internationally visible institution demands a high standard of judicial accountability and fair process. Lifetime appointment and the belief in the court as very powerful bring a national spotlight to hearings, making terrible processes all the worse. Even as more women have joined the United States judiciary, Senators and nominees still can choose to use …

How Are Women Faring in Islamic Courts? Anthropological and Historical Perspectives from Malaysia

By Michael G. Peletz
Department of Anthropology, Emory University


We live in a time when headlines about Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq dominate many Westerners’ understandings of Muslims, Islam, and Islamic law (sharia) in particular. We typically hear very little if anything about “ordinary Muslims”, who are neither political nor religious elites and are not in the forefront of political or religious movements. Our understandings of Muslims and the lived realities of sharia are further limited by two additional factors. First, most discussions of Islam and sharia that unfold in Western media and other venues of Western culture focus on the Middle East and North Africa, largely ignoring South and Southeast Asia, home to more than half the world’s Muslims. And second, many of these discussions fail to critically engage -- indeed, some of them actively reproduce -- centuries-old Western stereotypes suggesting that, throughout …

Call for Participation - C4: The Conference on Contemporary Celebrity Culture

I came to the study of celebrity because I was fascinated by the cultural obsession with celebrity pregnancy that I observed among women in the United States, and had a growing concern that such an obsession was facilitating the surveillance, commodification, and regulation of pregnancies for regular, every day people.   Since the publication of my book Pregnant with the Starslikeminded law and society scholars have seemed to come out of the wood work – admitting, sometimes a bit bashfully, that they, too, are interested in celebrity culture.  And why not? Or, why bashfully?  Celebrity is a particularly important phenomenon for law and society researchers to grapple with.

Happily, in the past three years, I’ve engaged in conversation with scholars interested in the phenomenon of celebrity as it relates to our contemporary political moment, and the construction of reality stars as viable sources of truth and authenticity; I’ve spoken with friends and colleagues who care very much about …