CfP: Understanding Neoliberal Legality, Oxford University, 21 June 2013

by | 7 May 2013

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Whilst neoliberal institutional and economic reforms have attracted substantial scholarly attention in recent decades, the role of law in the neoliberal story has been relatively neglected.  Yet law, broadly understood, features in various prominent aspects of the content, form, and mode of the neoliberal project and of efforts to resist it. This day-long workshop at the University of Oxford will draw together established and emerging scholars researching various aspects of the role of law in the construction and contestation of neoliberalism.The questions and dilemmas to be interrogated in the workshop’s discussions include the following:

•  In what ways has neoliberal restructuring shaped and been shaped by established legislative, judicial, and penal processes?
•  How is law engaged by the neoliberal state in its relations with dissent?
•  To what extent have the sites at which social change can be pursued been altered by neoliberal policy and ideology, or remained the same?
•  What are the possibilities and challenges facing political groups or movements that choose to engage the law in neoliberal times?  What about those that choose to break the law?
•  How has the neoliberal period clarified or complicated our understanding of the nature of law and of liberal legality?

The range of scholarship addressing aspects of these important questions at the nexus of neoliberalism and legality spans a panoply of theoretical and empirical analysis of the ways in which law is broken, upheld, and subverted by, for, and against the neoliberal project in the UK and abroad. Potential paper topics reflecting this diversity include, but are not limited to, the following themes:

• theorisations of social movement strategy with respect to law
• criminalisation of dissent
• critiques and possibilities of human rights activism
• current left governments as lawmakers
• theoretical interventions on the nature of (neoliberal) law
• new constitutionalism
• disciplinary logics of late capitalism
• intensifying impacts of power and privilege on access to legal channels
• law and order agenda
• criminalisation of poverty
• state of exception
• current trends in police repression
• media representations of protest
• migration and ‘illegal’ personhood

Interested participants should send their name, institutional affiliation, and an abstract of a maximum of 250 words to by 20 May, 2013. The workshop intends to initiate ongoing dialogue and collaboration, and it is hoped that selected proceedings from the workshop will be published as a special issue or edited volume. Regrettably, we cannot cover the cost of travel or accommodation for participants, but we will provide a lunch and coffee break during the workshop.


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