Contested Legalities: Translocal Encounters with Transnational Law

Melbourne Law School
online via Zoom
8 - 9 July 2021

The Translocal Law Research Group coordinated a workshop on ‘Contested Legalities: Translocal Encounters with Transnational Law’ held online, 8-9 July 2021.

The aim of the workshop was to deepen our understanding and scholarship on what we term translocal legalities – emergent meanings, norms, and forms of authority constituted through grounded encounters with transnational legal claims, norms, and technologies of governance. By coining this new term, the workshop participants sought to shift the gaze of transnational legal scholarship away from a top-down mapping of the structures of global law, to pay more attention, in situated ways, to the forms of legality that are produced as legal norms from different scales and contexts and how they circulate, interact and encounter one another as well as with local actors and legal practices.

Our intuition is that by transfixing our eyes on the encounters between different legal actors within grounded locations, it is possible to reveal how law is constituted not solely within traditional legal organizations and institutions, but through the everyday practices, discourses, and subjectivities of those mediating local, national, international and transnational norms.

The workshop was structured around the three questions:

  • How do contest over transnational law give rise to new social, political and legal subjectivities?
  • What are the forms of knowledge, material conditions and infrastructures that produce transnational and translocal law?
  • How do translocal encounters with transnational law unsettle the dominant legal categories, hierarchies and distinctions?

The workshop brought together researchers from different continents with interdisciplinary backgrounds in law, sociology, political science and anthropology.

Participants were encouraged to engage with the workshop in one of two ways:

  • By sharing a work-in-progress exploring translocal legalities. The workshop was structured to allow detailed discussion of each participant’s work-in-progress. The author was given an opportunity to briefly introduce their work, to explain the basic nature of their intervention and identify what type of feedback would most valuable. Each participant was paired with a peer discussant who will then provide some comments on the work-in-progress, before opening up to the group as a whole for further feedback.

  • By participating in shorter sessions on New Projects, briefly presenting on research pertaining to translocal legalities that is still in early stages of development. Presentations were brief (approx. 5 minutes) and all presenters received feedback from other workshop participants.

The workshop was organised by Emma Nyhan (Research Fellow, Melbourne Law School), together with Matt Canfield (Assistant Professor, Leiden Law School), Julia Dehm (Lecturer, La Trobe Law School), Giulia Fabini (Research Fellow, University of Bologna, Department of Legal Studies), Marisa Fassi (Research Director, Justicia Córdoba and Lecturer, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba) and Mariana Prandini Assis (Researcher and Human Rights Lawyer, Coletivo Margarida Alves de Assessoria Popular) and other members of the Translocal Law Research Group.

The Translocal Law Research Group was initiated at the 2015 Transnational Law Summer Institute, King’s College-London. Comprised of a group of early-career scholars, this collaborative research project seeks to interrogate the emergent socio-legal field of Transnational Law through the lens of social struggles in local contexts. It draws on a team of international researchers from different continents with interdisciplinary backgrounds in law, sociology, political science and anthropology.