The Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory is an annual interdisciplinary workshop hosted by graduate researchers at Melbourne Law School. The Forum brings together research students and early career researchers from a range of academic disciplines to engage with social, political, theoretical, and methodological issues raised by law and legal theory.
The 12th Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory will take place on 9 and 10 December 2019 at Melbourne Law School. This year’s theme is ‘Law on a Tightrope’. The call for papers can be found here.
We welcome papers from all areas of law, and from scholars in all disciplines whose work engages questions of method, law or theory. We hope to have a limited number of bursaries are available for interstate and international participants. Please send abstracts of up to 500 and 700 words and biographies of up to 200 words to Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory by Friday 16 August 2019.
Law on a Tightrope
The image of the tightrope walker brings to mind states of tension and stasis – and the potential for rupture, precarity and collapse. Tensions strain and test current conditions. Tension can mean friction, even a slow kind of violence. But tension can be productive, like the stability of tension cables holding up a bridge. Stasis suggests a period of inactivity or equilibrium and at the same time connotes the creative pause, a generative space between forms of engagement. Conversely, rupture denotes breach and discontinuity from what once was—or simply fissuring cracks within law’s image of a coherent self, inviting radical disruptions. We might think of the prefix “post” as the sign of rupture – think postmodern, postcolonial, post-development, post-human – but are these discourses really ruptures or do they maintain a tense connection to what they purportedly move beyond?
This forum aims to bring together scholars to think critically and jurisprudentially about the tensions, stasis, and ruptures that characterise our own time, from unfolding ecological system collapse to the disruption(s) caused by rapid technological advancements to geopolitical upheavals. Together we will explore the relationship of law to the objects and situations that cause, are brought forth, or are otherwise affected by such tensions and ruptures. The forum will also interrogate tensions and ruptures in other times and between times – between pre-modernity and modernity, between indigenous time(s) and Western time(s).
Yet before we get to questions of how law works to manage, mitigate, produce or amplify tension, stasis, rupture and their effects, we should attend to the figure on the tightrope. What is this law that perches so precariously on the wire? Methodologically, how does it change our substantive inquiries to suspend the law mid-air, to think of law as tense, static and always prone to falling? Jurisprudentially, how do we conceive of law on a tightrope and whose view of the law(s) do we privilege or exclude when we do? The tightrope looks different when contemplated from different angles and different points of view. Where do we, and the critical theories of law we engage with, position ourselves in this dialogue, and to what effect?
We invite and challenge participants to think about law, legal theory, method and critique while holding in mind the image of the tightrope. We invite submissions on themes including but not limited to:
- Climate change, environment, and ecological discontinuity
- Empire, (post) colonial realities, indigenous law(s) and geopolitical tensions
- Artificial intelligence, blockchain and other emerging technologies
- Economic ordering and financial inequality
- Disciplinary tensions and transdisciplinary desires
- Gender (un)ordering: Queer and Feminist perspectives
- Resistance and struggle.
We envision a series of presentations and panel discussions in a supportive, collegial environment but also warmly encourage participants who wish to present their work in visual, aural, multimedia or other creative formats.
We hope to have a limited number of travel bursaries for interstate and international presenting participants who are unable to claim sufficient funding from their home institution. Please indicate in your application if you would like to be considered for funding support. Alternatively, the forum organisers are happy to provide a letter of support for participants seeking financial assistance from their home institutions.
Melbourne Law School acknowledges the Wurundjeri Peoples of the Kulin Nations as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the law school stands. We pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.
Key note speakers for the 12th Melbourne Doctoral Forum
on Legal Theory
Professor Mark McMillan, RMIT University
Professor McMillan is a Wiradjuri man from Trangie, NSW. He is Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Education and Engagement at RMIT and Chair of RMIT’s Academic Board. Professor McMillan’s research interests are in the areas of human rights and, in particular, the expression and fulfilment of those rights for Indigenous Australians. He has been Chief Investigator on a number of ARC Grants in relation to Indigenous Australians and the law and was NAIDOC Scholar of the Year in 2013.
Associate Professor Ann Genovese, Melbourne Law School
As an Australian historian, and a jurisprudent, Associate Professor Genovese researches the relationship between Law and History as disciplines and practices; the nature of legal archives and the responsibilities of custodians and writers towards them; and the sources, forms and techniques necessary to show how Australian people have lived their lives with law. Associate Professor Genovese has collaborated with leading scholars from law, history, feminist theory and indigenous studies, as well as with members of the judiciary and profession.
Associate Professor Shaun McVeigh, Melbourne Law School
Associate Professor McVeigh has a long time association with critical legal studies in Australia and the UK. His research interests are in the fields of jurisprudence, health care, and legal ethics. His current research projects centre around three themes associated with refreshing a jurisprudence of jurisdiction: the development of accounts of a ‘lawful’ South; the importance of a civil prudence to thinking about the conduct of law (and lawyers); and the continuing need to take account of the colonial legal inheritance of Australia and Britain.
Registration for attending the Forum is now open and closes on 31 October 2019. We will have limited space available for non-presenting participants and priority will be given to postgraduate research students. If you would like to register please email: Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory by 31 October 2019.
The 2019 Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory will be held at Melbourne Law School, located in the suburb of Carlton directly north of the City of Melbourne's Central Business District.
Referred to as the cultural capital of Australia, Melbourne is emblemised by its iconic trams, distinctive blue cobblestone laneways and impressive array of cafes that underscore the city's artistic atmosphere. It is with great pleasure we welcome you to our city for the 2019 Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theor.y.
Traveling from the airport
Visitors new to Melbourne should note that there is no train connecting the city to the airport.
There are two bus services called SkyBus and StarBusShuttle that cost around 18 AUD one way from the airport to Melbourne's CBD at Southern Cross Station. Services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Tickets can be purchased at the airport or online (SkyBus or StarBusShuttle).
Alternatively, a private taxi will typically cost between 50 and 70 AUD and an Uber will usually cost between 40 and 60 AUD.
Visitors from outside Australia should note that the conference will take place at the start of Melbourne summer. During the month of December, the average maximum temperature in Melbourne is 24°C and the average minimum is 14°C. Further information about average weather conditions and reliable weather forecasts are available from Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.
December is an ideal time to visit Melbourne and its surrounding beaches. For those participants who wish to stay longer, there is plenty to do around Victoria, from taking in the spectacular views of the Great Ocean Road to seeing penguins and koalas on Philip Island to doing the Billibellary's Walk on the University of Melbourne's Parkville campus. For tourist information about Victoria, see: https://www.visitvictoria.com