Law & Space: Unity & the Multiplication of Law’s Places

by | 25 Jan 2011

A Workshop hosted by the Oxford Brookes Critical Approaches to Law Research Group – Friday 6th of May 2011

The ordering of space, a derivative of intellectual conceptualism, is an act of violence executed through aesthetic means. (Ronen Shamir, 2001)

carl andre - alcloudThis workshop brings together a number of different trajectories, disciplines and perspectives to explore the recent turn to geography and spatial theory in Law. Sherene Razack, author of Race, Space and the Law, along with a number of other leading and emerging scholars in the field, will speak on their work on critical legal geography.

The workshop will address the question of unity and multiplication of law’s places. Traditionally the legal has been associated with and often reliant upon a deep affinity to unity: community must be unified into the nation with its mythic autochthonous bond to the soil; territory must be controlled in a unified fashion. This control is then intimately bound to sovereignty, which must be whole and complete, or nothing at all.
Even in jurisprudence the formalists and positivists wanted a whole and complete body of law, united by the beautiful reason of science and closed from the uncertainty of other disciplines. Unity therefore becomes associated with the traditional closure of law. In contrast, space is, in Doreen Massey’s words, “dynamic, heterogeneous, simultaneity”.  The analysis opened by critical legal geography thus challenges law’s unity by focusing upon the multiplicity of legal places. Drawing on its lineage in critical, feminist and realist critiques of traditional legal paradigms, critical legal geographies have looked to challenge the disciplinarily closed sense of law. Accounting for the legal within the spatial opens the legal out into political and social questions, while simultaenously spatializing these other disciplines.

Aside from the academic concern, we have proposed this workshop on legal geographies and the question of unity as a timely opportunity to bring together scholars bringing the spatial turn to law in the UK.  We would like to explore the possibility of a network which fosters collaboration and discussion between those interested in this mode of questioning.


Sherene Razack (University of Toronto Department of Sociology and Equity Studies)

Andreas Philippopoulos Mihalopoulos (University of Westminster School of Law)

Sharron FitzGerald (University of Aberystwth Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences)

Tim Cresswell (Royal Holloway, University of London Department of Geography)

Antonia Layard (Cardiff University Law School)

Brenna Bhandar (University of Kent Law School)

Sarah Keenan (Oxford Brookes University Law School)

Rory Rowan (Royal Holloway, University of London Department of Geography)

Registration is free and there are a limited number of bursaries to cover travel for graduate students. To register or apply for a bursary, please email Sarah Keenan: s.keenan[at]


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