Frontiers of 'legality' under neoliberalism: ethnographic explorations across shifting temporal and spatial scales

Filippo Zerilli (University of Cagliari)
Madeleine Reeves
Arts Classhall H
Start time:
26 August, 2010 at 11:30
Session slots:


According to conceptions of law and politics dominant in legal scholarship the notion of legality refers simultaneously to: a source of authority that makes the exercise of power legitimate (e.g. constitutionalism and the rule of law); a sovereign geopolitical entity (the state); a number of experts producing legal knowledge (legislators, judges, lawyers, bureaucrats etc.); a set of formal legal institutions where legal processes develop according to their specific temporalities (courts, tribunals, administrative offices etc.). This workshop invites to expand such conventional understanding of legality beyond the usual space and time frames asking how 'legality' is culturally constructed and socially produced under the current global transformation of law and politics (a.k.a. neoliberalism). Accordingly, we welcome papers that ethnographically explore how 'legalities' (including non-legality and illegality) take shape, co-exist, overlap, conflict and often accommodate one to another, both within and beyond the boundaries of the state. Also, along with the traditional producers of legal knowledge mentioned above, we invite paper-givers to engage with discourses, practices and techniques of 'legality' produced by subjects working outside formal legal institutions (e.g. religious groups, professional associations, criminal organizations, transnational and civil society organizations, social movements, NGO's etc.). Among important issues this workshop intends to address are: How do state, supra-state and non-state - individual and collective - actors (co-)participate in the production of legal, non-legal, and illegal orderings? How do conceptions and practices of 'legality' articulate with multiple sources of authority and morality within shifting spatial and temporal frameworks typical of transnational capitalism?