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: The Political
Secondary Theme: Policy
This panel examines legal regimes in order to consider their limits and blind spots, as well to probe the aftermath of their disintegration. Nationalist, populist, and integralist forms of politics have led to a purported crisis of liberalism, resulting in the proliferation of critiques of liberal values and institutions levelled by both the Right and the Left. At such a time, the legitimacy of law has become relentlessly eroded by post-truth politics as well as by the increasing appearance of forms of popular justice that seek to sidestep formal laws and legal process. Concomitantly, codified, formal law has become implicated and called upon within populist agendas and resistance movements alike. Positioning ourselves amidst these volatile and often contradictory transformations, we seek to interrogate the relentless making and unmaking of legal ways of knowing around the world so as to examine the epistemological and theoretical limits of law as authoritative truth claim.
We ask: How do legal regimes become productive of or implicated in moral orthodoxies? How do protectionist legal discourses open up spaces for abjection and injury? How does the law create the conditions for its own interrogation and disruption? How do liberal laws circulate and shepherd illiberal instincts by imbuing them with political virtue? What new political and moral-affective possibilities open up when legal regimes disband? And what residues of old truth claims remain? Amidst widespread anxieties about the erosion of welfare institutions and legal safeguards at a time of authoritarian, fascist, and populist resurgences, the papers on this panel invite us to attend to the ends of legal regimes as a means to imagine new political possibilities, resiliencies, and adaptations at this contemporary “post-law” moment. By examining human trafficking laws in India as well as hate crime legislation in India, the rapid but uneven transformation of medical marijuana regulations in the United States, “illegal” extraction practices in Western Sahara, and the tensions between state law and social obligation in Senegal, we seek to approach the epistemological, methodological, and political problems and possibilities in law’s unraveling.