Call for papers

Legal Diversity and Regional Encounters: Plural Understandings of Law in Localised Contexts

The Faculty of Law in cooperation with Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki is pleased to announce the annual conference under the Development of Russian Law research project, which will take place in Helsinki on October 19-20, 2021. This conference continues the series of workshops, seminars, and conferences originating in legal scholarship on Russian law, organized by the Faculty of Law since 2008. Our confirmed keynote speakers are: Dr. Nadia E. Brown (Purdue University) and Professor Brenda Cossman (University of Toronto).

Current debates surrounding legal pluralism focus on a variety of legal issues. The nexus of international, transnational, regional, domestic, or local levels of legal regulation questions the clearly defined spaces of law. The conception of domestic law or international law as a single realm has long been challenged in legal and transdisciplinary scholarship due to multiple and constantly incoming and outcoming influences. Law becomes a mixture of many things; it becomes a fluid institution that counter-intuitively changes as it is being practiced and rarely remains set in stone.

Legal diversity refers to the idea that in any one space of law there is more than one regulation or even more than just one legal system. The conference will explore legal pluralism by discussing factors that lead to legal diversity and plural sites of norm-production. It follows in the lengthy tradition of law/society relation and reconceptualization and examines several aspects of legal diversity focusing on the relationship between the empirical facts of pluralism and its conceptual foundations. Furthermore, we plan to define how international comparative experiences are relevant to legal-societal analysis and discuss in detail the multiple possible connections among different sites of law-making, practice, and experience.

A point of departure for this conference is its previous focus on Russia and the Russian law. As we intend to broaden the scope of the conference, we look at geographical location as one possible way to approach diversity. How does space define law? How does international community “view” certain spaces? What are the venues of legal diversity when we concentrate our attention on a geographical location? How does the very notion of space is also re-defined by diverse practices of law? In these endeavours we open the debates about legal pluralism beyond the geopolitical space of Russia and invite scholars who work in other regions across the Globe from South and Eastern Europe to the Americas, from South-East Asia to Africa.

Legal systems are constantly interacting with one another, and in so doing, re-defining each other. Various schools of thought on legal diversity have studied such interactions under the banner of legal anthropology, systems theory, global legal pluralism, and others. Their commonality is the identification of legal practice as a procedure shaped through interactions among multiple legal orders. In the current moment of increased populist tendencies and re-emergent nationalisms, it is even more important to revisit the question of legal diversity. One last dimension that came to be important during the pandemic of 2020-2021 is how legal diversity deals with emergency situations and what kind of impacts it has on further legal development.

We encourage submissions of individual papers and full panels on the following themes and beyond:

  • legal diversity as representing a multitude of differences that exists at the micro and macro levels to make social, cultural and legal models heterogeneous;

  • pandemic, legal diversity and emergency law;

  • political and legal geographies;

  • postcolonial/colonial spaces;

  • topics that focus on and encompass different characteristics such as race, age, creed, national origin, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and so on;

  • plurality of legal ontologies and resulting traditions/cultures;

  • comparative legal practice, legal transplants or legal ‘borrowing’ and hybrids;

  • comparative studies of law in diverse societies;

  • plural legal systems in same localities;

  • studies of resistance to international human rights norms;

  • mobilisation against equality;

  • local traditions vs legal norms;

  • queering law / queering legal studies;

  • legal pluralism and marriage equality;

  • asylum process and legal diversity;

  • race, ethnicity and law.

We welcome legal researchers from across disciplines to join our discussions on current issues in legal studies. We especially encourage junior scholars and graduate students to apply.

The working language of the conference is English, including all presentations and discussions.