Six Bursaries Available: The Public Life of Private Law (ESRC) Seminar Series

by | 10 Oct 2012

Six bursaries are available to assist PhD students and recent PhD graduates in any discipline to attend all four seminars in the UK’s ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) seminar  series The Public Life of Private Law, which will run 2013 – 2014. The first seminar takes place at the University of Kent on 18 January 2013.

The series examines the relations between private legal obligation and political struggle. Private law has an ever more demanding public life. If it ever had any material reality, the traditional view that saw public law as underpinning the just distribution of power between citizens and the state, and private law as primarily concerned with regulating individual apolitical projects, is no longer viable. Private law is increasingly visible in the management of political conflict, whether that is the use of ‘persons unknown injunctions’ to prevent protest, tort and land law litigation for human rights abuses or the privatization of religious divorce. It frequently determines the legal and political spaces in which disputes are staged, and sets the thresholds for entry into those spaces. By transposing political disagreement into its own discourse of risk, responsibility, duty, agreement, harm, restitution and compensation, it opens some possibilities for political action and constrains others. All this occurs according to the peculiar sanctions, remedies and flows of power which private law entails. The series seeks to investigate new uses of private law, which may generate novel ‘strategies of rupture’ or jarring or violent experiences of being ‘bound to law’; of political and legal dislocation.

The seminar series is free to attend. We are offering six bursaries of up to £400 each to subsidise PhD students’ travel and accommodation costs. This support is available to students who are able to attend each of the four seminars.  You may be eligible for one of the six bursaries if you are:

  • A current or recently-completed PhD student in any discipline, and not yet in a salaried full-time academic post.
  • Working in any discipline on a project which is relevant to the themes of this seminar series.
  • Able to attend each of the 4 seminars in the series during 2013 and 2014.
  • Willing to participate in the work of the series by (i) acting as a discussant at least one of the seminars (ii) producing occasional blogs and other content for this website as required.

If you wish to apply for one of the bursaries, please email Mairead Enright m.enright[at] explaining (in 500 words max.)  how your PhD research intersects with the aims of the workshop. Please attach a CV, including a list of publications. The deadline for applications is 14 December 2012 at 5pm.

Further details, including a description of all four seminars, is available at The Public Life of Private Law website:


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