Institution: Juris Diversitas, with the Southern African Society of Legal Historians
Date: 15-17 April 2019
Venue: North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa 


Theme: Law, roots and space

A couple of lawyers’ old friends: ‘Sources’ and ‘Jurisdictions’. In their parlance, these notions are often associated to modern, ‘positive’ law.

The idea of ‘legal formants’ has been introduced to complete the picture, flexibilising it, making it more accurate, nuanced, realistic; an idea associated to comparative, socio-legal, anthropologic studies.

With ‘Roots’ and ‘space’ geographers, historians, political scientists get involved. These are certainly less frequent notions in legal circles: we may still wish to make friends with them, to enrich our perception of legal phenomena.

‘Roots’ is often associated to history of law and related discourses – if legal formants may complete a picture, legal roots do complete the movie, so to speak.

‘Space’: an open notion, perhaps a non-notion in modern legal discourse, generic enough to include every spatial dimension of legal phenomena: dissemination of movie theatres and other forms of diffusion of the various show-biz products could be the appropriate metaphor here, including space law and virtual property.

A legal discourse that goes beyond the checkboards, or the series of juxtaposed swimming pools – Tetris-style – containing water from their respective individual sources, produced by modern, Westphalian conceptions of the law. It goes, instead, to normative forces producing their effects without a precise geographic boundary: like radio stations, magnetic or gravitational fields. Or like intricate sets of rivers, lakes, canals, ponds, infiltrated wetlands, oceans, weather, all contributing to a locally diversified but still unitary eco-system and bio-sphere of water, landscape, vegetation, fauna.

A discourse on normative forces and the fuzziness of their historic and geographic reach.

The Southern African Legal Historians would welcome papers focusing on the Roots of Law, which may pertain to the development of law in any particular time (from the distant past to the near future) relating to roots, law and space or the impact of law on society, transformation and justice, relating, but not limited, to African legal traditions; European legal traditions; Anglo-American legal traditions; religious influences and Eastern legal influences.

Conference announcement 

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