Call for Papers

Translation, Transformation and Transgression

Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 November 2023

Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Conducting research in law within a diverse local framework, comparatively across jurisdictions, at the international level, or by crossing disciplinary boundaries is a productive pursuit as well as a precarious undertaking. All these scholarly engagements involve translation, transformation and transgression.

To translate means to carry or bring something across. Translation entails a movement between languages, laws, cultures, ideas and practices. To translate means to pay attention to the original, as well as the institutional context in which it is situated, and the discourses organised around it. A translation is also an object that sustains the life of the original, carrying it across time and space.

Traversing various jurisdictions, legal cultures and disciplines requires us to pay attention to the change in the form, or transformation, of law, its authority, practices and the relation it forges with its subjects. At the same time, it calls for self-reflexivity; we need to attend to how the ways in which we conduct our legal scholarship and practices are transformed.

Transgression is commonly perceived as a form of trespass—a crossing that is legally unacceptable. It assumes a dichotomy, a threshold that separates the legally acceptable from the unacceptable. Actively engaging with transgression, either cooperatively by submitting to the unacceptable, or combatively by challenging the unacceptable, invites us to re-imagine our relationship with law.

Thinking broadly with translation, transformation and transgression broadly, we invite submissions on issues, including (but not limited to): 

  • Lost in translation?: What happens when law does not have a vocabulary to address a problem, for example, in AI regulation and biotechnology? How do we translate social issues into a legal question and what forms of legal relations are established? What does it mean for the law to adopt an eco-centric vocabulary?
  • Approaching law “on the move”: How do interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to law transform our engagement with law? How to translate one material form of law to another, for example, through the digitisation of law? How do we “transgress” colonial laws by addressing colonial legal languages, authorities and practices in post-colonial societies? How do we “transgress” neo-liberal laws in contemporary society? How do these transgressions then transform legal relations and responsibilities?