An International Course on ‘Living Realities of Legal Pluralism’
4-7 September, 2011, Cape Town, South Africa
In September 2011 the International Commission on Legal Pluralism, in cooperation with the Centre for Legal and Applied Research (CLEAR), the Research Chair in Customary Law and the Chair for Comparative Law in Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa, will organize a course in Cape Town, South Africa, about theories, knowledge and methodologies of legal pluralism. The purpose of the 3½-day course is to familiarize the participants with the current international debates and insights in socio-legal studies and legal pluralism and to offer them a comparative perspective that allows them to rethink their own research and practical work. At the centre of the discussion will be issues of rights protection, gender, natural resource management and land tenure, and dispute management, in the context of globalising economic, political and legal developments. These issues converge in the theme of living realities of legal pluralism.
Participation is limited to 25 persons, to allow for maximum discussion. A balanced participation is sought which includes a strong presence from South Africa, but also attracts scholars or practitioners from the region, other developing countries and a limited number from western countries. The participants are academics and/or practitioners, e.g. NGO activists or government officials, who deal with issues related to legal pluralism and social justice in their academic or practical work. During this intensive training the participants will be able to build a national and international network both with other participants and with the teaching staff. As in past courses (held amongst others in Wellington (New Zealand), Accra (Ghana), Williamsburg (USA), Moscow (Russia), Chiang Mai (Thailand), Fredericton (Canada), Jakarta (Indonesia) and Zurich (Switzerland)) the teaching team will consist of senior academics of various backgrounds drawn from the Commission of Legal Pluralism and of colleagues from the region, in this case from South Africa. The course is followed by the Commission’s biennial international conference. The conference covers the same topics and themes as the course. Students will be given the opportunity to present their work at the conference and directly engage with leading scholars and practitioners in their fields, allowing them to become part of a regional and international network.
Proposed topics for the course are:
1. Theoretical and methodological aspects of legal pluralism
This session provides an introduction to theoretical and methodological aspects of legal pluralism, one of the most interesting and controversial concepts in the anthropology and sociology of law and legal theory. The session will sensitize the
participants to the complexity of the coexistence of legal orders and the empirical and theoretical challenges it raises.
2. The living realities of legal pluralism in South Africa
Prominent South African researchers in the field of legal pluralism discuss the current realities of legal pluralism in South Africa, and the challenges this poses for lawmakers, judges, activists, and researchers.
3. Dispute management and social control
The session introduces the legal anthropology of disputing and social control in plural legal settings and draws attention to ongoing processes of disputing and social control in a global or transnational environment.
4. Natural resources management
In most countries, the access-rules to natural resources as well as the corresponding rights of disposal are subject of different normative sets, which might influence each other or which might stay in a permanent competition for social recognition and public legitimacy. This topic will include a mock stakeholder meeting
5. Legal empowerment, gender and human rights
In this session attention will be paid to legal empowerment, the gendered dimensions of law, its impact on women’s and men’s access to resources, including legal institutions, and the human rights aspects involved. It will be discussed how gender is socially and legally constructed and the consequences that this has for people’s access rights. This topic will include both an academic debate and a practitioners’ panel focusing on their experiences and possible practical solutions.
6. Field trip: (half-day)
Selection, Fee, and Funding
Prospective students should be either young scholars studying for a JD or PhD degree or having just finished one, or more senior scholars who are relatively new to the field of legal pluralism, or they should be practitioners whose work is directly related to topics discussed in the course. Students should be able to demonstrate an English language ability that allows them to read and actively discuss relevant academic literature. Students will be selected based on their motivation to join the course. Such selection will also be based on a balanced regional participation as outlined above.
The course fee is 200 USD. Other costs include accommodation, food and beverages, which will be arranged at prices as low as possible. The course organizers are currently working on securing some funding for the non-Western participants. It is hoped that in this way for certain students the costs can be covered by the organization. However as such funding is not yet certain and will not cover all students applicants are encouraged to also seek their own funding.
Application, Contact and More Information
Scholars and practitioners interested in and qualified to partake in this course are warmly welcomed to apply before March 10, 2011. The application should include a motivation letter, a resume, information about their level of English, and an estimation of their travel costs to Cape Town. Applications are to be sent to Janine Ubink: j.ubink at law.leidenuniv.nl.
For more information on the Conference and on the Commission on Legal Pluralism and its past courses and conferences visit: http://www.commission-on-legal-pluralism…. Participants need to register separately for the conference as well as submit an abstract for a paper presentation, both at www.pluralismconference2011.co.za.