Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Class
Secondary Theme: Identity and Equity
Our panel is focused on the role of language and class in shaping the resistance, resilience, and adaptation of actors within legal systems. We are particularly interested in exploring the ways in which class and linguistic practices shape legal identities. The papers presented cover such topics as conflicts between expatriate and local communities over the role of English in Hong Kong LGBTI activism, migrant and working-class litigants' linguistic and economic barriers to family reunification in U.S. dependency hearings, Dalit struggles to find the right language to bring cases of violence to courts in India, working-class Japanese families navigating the linguistic and legal aspects of the compensation scheme following the Fukushima disaster, and the classed and linguistic standards of “objectivity” in American drug courts. The panel seeks to illuminate how class and language use can dictate how individuals are recognized and move through legal systems (Conley and O’Barr 1990; Merry 1990; Phillips 1998). From a more macroscopic perspective, we ask which classes and/or linguistic groups enact law? How do these limited voices use law to reify, disrupt, or reshape inequalities that result from class and language differences? How do race and ethnicity intersect, run parallel to, or contradict class and language use in legal settings? Finally, who are the gatekeepers of law and how do their own classed and linguistic identities restrict or open access to others?