CfP: 16th Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory: Translation, Transformation and Transgression

by | 30 Aug 2023

What is this time if not one of endless crossing from one language, time, and place to another? As the next generation of researchers, we are encouraged to transform and transgress disciplines, knowledges, and practices to identify problems and possible solutions; but also to be careful how we do so. The 16th Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory (DLFT-16) invites reflection on the activities on crossing (trans-) and law—the work of translation, transformation and transgression in all their forms, emphasising the importance of approaching these tasks with the utmost care. The Forum will be hosted at the Melbourne Law School on the 20 and 21 November 2023.

The DLFT-16 is the 16th reiteration of an annual interdisciplinary workshop hosted by graduate researchers to bring together graduate researchers and early career scholars from a range of disciplines to think critically, methodologically and theoretically about law and legal theory. We aim to create a cordial and safe space for doctoral scholars to share their research and warmly welcome your participation. 

Call for Papers 

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, 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? 


The DFLT-16 will be held in person at the Melbourne Law School. We envision a series of paper presentations and comments organised into multiple panels in a supportive, collegial environment. But we also warmly encourage participants who wish to present their work in visual, aural, multimedia or other creative formats. 

Expression of Interest

Please submit abstracts of 300 words together with biographies of up to 100 words via this form by Tuesday 22 August 2023. 

Applicants will receive a response by mid-September. Confirmed participants are to submit their papers (between 3000­–5000 words) by Monday 23 October 2023. 

We also welcome non-presenting participants to join the DLFT-16 as observers, to ask questions and support the presenters. To express your interest in attending as a non-presenting participant, please complete this form by Monday 23 October 2023. 

The Forum has limited funds to support associated costs to attend the forum. For participants travelling from outside of Melbourne, the Forum may be able to assist a few with travel and accommodation costs on a need basis. Please indicate in your application if you would like to be considered for funding support. 

If there are any financial difficulties that prevent you from participating in the DLFT-16 in person, we could make arrangements for you to attend online. Please email us to discuss this further.  

Contact Us

If you have any questions, please read out to us via email at: Follow us on Twitter @doctoral_forum or visit our website for updates. 

DFLT-16 Organisers: 

Earn Asanasak, Jing Qian, Michael Bader and Tina Yao

1 Comment

  1. i am interested in particpating in this but only received the notification today and it says expressions of interest should be made by 22 August 2023.
    What can I do?


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