Laws Locations: The Textures of Legality in Developing and Transitional Societies

April 23-25, 2010, UW Law School

The Conference titled "Laws Locations: The Textures of Legality in Developing and Transitional Societies" will be held at the University of Wisconsin Law School in conjunction with the annual symposium of the Wisconsin International Law Journal. It is part of the Research Circle on Role of Law in Developing and Transition Countries.

The conference is held in honor of Professor David Trubek, Voss Bascom Emeritus Professor of Law and Senior Fellow, Center for World Affairs and the Global Economy (WAGE).

Conference Theme

Scholars have been turning their attention to the role law plays in developing and transitional countries with greater frequency in recent years.  The new scholarship builds on strengths of earlier traditions of research in this area, but also breaks in important ways from past approaches. Perhaps the most significant shift is the move away from generalizing and generic accounts of the 'rule of law' towards contextualized analyses of how law actually works in specific times and places. The most exciting scholarship emerging in this field today insists on thick, historically rooted description as the essential basis for understanding the role of law in these countries.  This conference examines how the move toward richly contextualized accounts of the role of law is challenging conventional understandings, and forging new knowledge about how law actually works in developing and transitional countries.

The main panels will emphasize three different aspects of the new scholarship.  The first focuses on how people actually encounter the law in their daily lives.  It will draw on the concepts developed by prior Law and Society scholarship – such as legal consciousness, the disputing pyramid, repeat-players, and the legal engagement of social movements – and further develop them in new settings.  The second panel examines how people in developing and transitional countries move between and engage with plural legal orders, including international and transnational regimes. The emerging scholarship is characterized by recognition of the multiple uses of overlapping legal regimes and institutions, as well as of the competing normativities within the law (such as economics, human rights, indigenous, universal, etc.).  The third panel examines how, despite fast-paced political transitions and innovative legal transplants, legal life in these countries is also shaped by historical legacies.  This panel can include work on transitional forms of justice; constitution-building and state reconstruction; mimicry; legal cultures; and path dependency.

The conference will take place at the University of Wisconsin Law School from April 23-25, 2010. The first day of the conference will focus on the three aspects of legal life identified above, while the second and third days will broaden this focus to include panels on specific subjects related to these themes. The final panel will be asked to consider how these new approaches might represent or contribute to the emergence of a coherent field in the study of law in developing and transitional countries.

Guest Speaker:
Professor Richard Abel, Michael J Connell Professor of Law, University of California Los Angeles Law School will deliver "Personal Reminiscences of David Trubek."

Conference Program

Presentation Abstracts


Registration is free but requested to facilitate planning. Please register by April 15, 2010 by contacting MaiVue Xiong. 

Day 1 approved for 6.0 hours of CLE credit for Wisconsin Attorneys

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