Monday, May 19, 2008

Conference: Theorising the Global Legal Order

This Wednesday and Thursday, May 21-22, the Swansea University School of Law will host a conference on "Theorising the Global Legal Order," in Swansea. The program is here; paper abstracts are here. Why attend?

Academic literature within law and elsewhere is replete with works addressing various aspects of globalisation, and within this literature there are copious attempts of taking one theoretical perspective or another on the subject matter treated. Nevertheless, there is a recognised paucity of theoretical underpinning for the development of law as an academic discipline into the broader territory that current global trends now present, and this lack is recognised even among those whose own work is at the forefront of theoretical inquiry in the area. Part of the explanation for this state of affairs is that in confronting the novel extensions to the concerns of academic law, new perspectives have been borrowed from other disciplines rather than working through the consequences for a distinctively legal approach (no matter how much resonance with other disciplines such an approach might ultimately enjoy). Another contributory factor is that the explosion of new types of legal phenomena in the global arena has multiplied issues to address faster than any developing theory can keep up with them. And a related factor is that where theory has succeeded in developing to a significant extent it has tended to be confined to dealing with a particular aspect of the subject matter or to expounding a particular theoretical perspective, without fully addressing the implications for or from other aspects, nor fully engaging with other perspectives.

The rationale for the conference lies in seeking to bring together a number of disparate and often inchoate concerns about theorising law in the global context – concerns that may focus on constitutionalist frameworks or on culturalist forces, that may be inspired by traditional insights of the peculiarly institutional nature of law or be captivated by the potential for law to be transformed by extra-legal impulses – and by providing a venue for debate, engagement, and exploration of ideas, to broaden the understanding of academic lawyers of the issues and openings for further work in what amounts to a critical area of legal research and scholarship.