Enculturing Law: New Agendas for Legal Pedagogy
Conference Organised in collaboration with
Alternative Law Forum
National Law School of India University, Bangalore
11-13 August 2005
(Supported by IDPAD, New Delhi)
9:00 AM-9:30 AM: Inaugural
9:30 AM-11:00 AM. Keynote Session: Contemporary Challenges for Scholarship in Law Society and Culture
Upendra Baxi (University of Warwick) - 'The Dominant, Residual, and the Emergent Cultures of Law: Some Voices From the Past'
B.S.Chimni (National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkota) - 'The Future of the New Law Schools: Some Critical Reflections'
Eleanor Wong (National University of Singapore) - 'Pedagogical challenges for en-culturing the law classroom: Reflections on the legal writing program at NUS'
11:00 AM-11:30 AM. - Tea Break
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM- Discussion after comments from session respondent: Prof. Babu Matthew (Currently Country Director, Action Aid India, New Delhi)
12:30-1:30 p.m - Lunch Break
1.30 PM - 2.30 PM Session 2: Critical and Interdisciplinary Traditions in Anglo-American Legal Scholarship
Roger Cotterrell (Queen Mary and Westfield College, London) - 'Culture, Comparison, Community - Social Studies of Law Today'
W T Murphy (London School of Economics) - 'Cultures of Criticism: Reflections on contemporary legal education'
2:30 PM-3:15 PM - Discussion after comments from session respondent: Sudhir Krishnaswamy (NLS, Bangalore)
3:15 PM- 3:30 PM - Tea Break
3.30 PM - 4.30 PM Session 3: Challenges for the Comparative Study of Legal Cultures
Partick Glen (McGill University, Montreal) - 'Legal Systems, Legal Traditions and Legal Education'
Volkmar Gessner (International Institute for the Sociology of Law, Onati) - 'Legalization and the Varieties of Capitalism'
4:30 PM - 5:30 PM - Discussion after comments from session respondent: Arun Thiruvendagam (Doctoral Candidate, New York University), and special respondent on the day's proceedings: Prof. Peter Van Der Veer (Co-Chair, IDPAD, The Netherlands).
10 AM - 11.30 AM: Session 1: Reworking Legal Methods I: The Women's Question in Post-Colonial Societies: Challenges for a Comparative and Cultural Study of Law
Hyunah Yang, Seoul National University, Seoul - 'Reading the Recent Changes in Korean Family Law: Toward a Postcolonial Legal Feminism in Asia'
Jothi Sauntharajah (National University of Singapore) - 'Toying with Tradition: Law, CEDAW and Singapore'
Flavia Agnes (Advocate, High Court of Mumbai) - 'Re-visiting the Personal Law Conundrum: Reflections on the Resolution of the Womens Question in Hindu Personal Law'
11:30 AM -11:45 AM - Tea Break
11:45 a.m - 12:45 p.m - Discussion after comments from session respondent: Dr. Rajeshwari Sundar Rajan (University of Oxford, UK)
12:45-1:30 p.m Lunch Break
1.30 PM - 2.00 PM Session 2: Reworking Legal Methods II: Social and Political Histories in the Study of Law
Tanika Sarkar, Delhi University, Delhi - 'Between Laws and Faith: Hindu Personal Laws in the 19th Century Public Sphere'
2:00-2:45 p.m - Discussion after comments from session respondent: Janaki Nair (Centre for the Study of Social Sciences, Kolkata)
2:45 PM -3:00 PM - Tea Break
3.00 PM - 4.30 PM Session 3: Reworking Legal Methods III: Re-Focussing Rights: Reflections on the Place of 'Rights' in a Legal Classroom
Jayadeva Uyandgoda (University of Colombo) - Righting the Wrongs in the Margins: Issues in Constitution Making in a Society in the Transition from War to Peace: Sri Lanka
Jonathan Klaaren (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg) - 'The Globalisation of Governance: New challenge for conceiving regimes of rights" Oliver Mendelsohn (La Trobe University, Victoria) - 'What is Distinctive About Indian Law and How Can that Distinctiveness be Represented in the Classroom?'
4:30 pm -5:30 pm - Discussion after comments from session respondent: Dr. Sitaramam Kakarala, CSCS, Bangalore
9.30 AM- 11.00 AM Session 1: New challenges for the cultural scholarship of law I: Law and the Study of Cinema (Organised by ALF)
Anne Barron (London School of Economics) - 'The (Legal) Properties of Film: Copyright Law and Cultural Analysis'
Ashish Rajadyaksha (CSCS) - 'On the Properties of Cinema: Why Law is Important for Cultural Analysis'
11.15 AM - 1.00 PM Session 2: New Challenges for the Cultural Scholarship of Law II: Law and the Study of Media Practices and Knowledge Production (Organised by ALF)
Shuddhabrata Sengupta (The Sarai Programme, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi) - 'Cyber-culture, New Media and the Proliferation of Knowledge Production: Challenges for the Regulation of Knowledge Practices.
Lawrence Liang and Namita Malhotra (ALF, Bangalore) - 'Media Practice as Legal Practice: Exploring the World of the Cinematograph Act, 1952'
1:00-2:00 p.m Lunch Break
2.00 PM - 3.00 PM Session 3: Rounding Up
Exploratory discussions for future collaborations for research in Law Society and Culture, etc.
For Further Details:
Contact person: Mathew John, Fellow,
The Law & Culture Programme
Centre for the Study of Culture & Society
Note on the Conference:
This note seeks to address some of the critical problems facing contemporary legal education, especially legal education in large parts of the global south. While the problems are likely to be numerous and varying from context to context we try to identify some range of the possibly common problems that assume salience for a study of law in its social and cultural context. Not having full access to the range of challenges facing other social and legal contexts we start with the problems that animate our own efforts to initiate this conversation on legal education.
The program for Law, Society and Culture at the Centre for the Study of Culture & Society (CSCS), Bangalore was set up in 2003 in order to address what we believe is a crisis in law teaching, research and scholarship in India. We see the problem at three levels:
First: it is far from controversial today to assert that contemporary India has rather modestly developed traditions of legal scholarship. The legal community as well as other allied humanities disciplines have by and large failed in building a research project in law with distinctly Indian problems and possibilities. Model centres of legal teaching and research like the Indian Law Institute and the National Law School have also largely failed to definitively determine the paths of Indian legal scholarship. Thus even at its very best (though of course with a few notable exceptions) Indian legal scholarship has not managed to travel far beyond the production commentaries that chart the movement of doctrinal legal trends across various fields.
Second: Modest research traditions have meant that the legal classroom has not been able to grapple with social problems outside the vicelike grip of doctrinal legal analysis. Though experiments like the National Law School in Bangalore have met with some success in moving beyond strict doctrinal approaches, the legal lens continues to blur when it falls upon approaches outside of its disciplinary frame. Teaching and learning law has therefore continued to remain a self-referential enterprise in the interpretation of rules. As a result, legal education in India has not been successful in going beyond meeting minimal requirement of producing 'legal technicians' for a range of legal markets.
Collectively these two aspects of the problem give rise to a third problem. That is, the inability of legal education in India to respond holistically and meaningfully to contemporary challenges. This problem is made especially acute today with the collapse of the developmentalist/wefare state. Without the institutional and conceptual backing of the developmentalist state the contemporary Indian university in general and legal education in particular is unsure of the concerns that it ought to be contending with and consequently the content that academic programs must now assume.
Though this discussion has been framed by the Indian example we suspect that it would roughly hold true for many other countries of the global south. The problem of the ideological crisis of the welfare/developmentalist state is however a far more general problem that throws open the question of the social mandate of legal education in all contexts across the world as well. There is therefore no denying the usefulness of comparative discussions through these problems. It is in this context that we propose a seminar to dialogue some range of the issues that we identified above from an international and comparative perspective.
Exploring the promise of interdisciplinary study
One way in which the CSCS Law and Culture Programme has sought to respond to the problems outlined above has been by advocating a strongly interdisciplinary approach to the study of law. Drawing heavily from social, cultural, economic, historical and anthropological approaches to law, the program has been committed to exploring an approach to contemporary social issues that would be distinct from the prevalent model emphasising doctrinal analysis. While the turn towards interdisciplinary study holds promise for a holistic response to social problems the usefulness of this approach is not necessarily self-evident and thereby raises a further range of questions. Some of them include - What shifts in the contemporary political economy and mindscapes have made for the generation of contemporary interdisciplinary study in law, society and culture? What merits does this mode of studying social phenomena possess? Does this mode of addressing problems make significant advances in the manner in which these problems have conventionally been addressed? If so, how? Is the cultural turn an alibi for the impossibilities and impasses in the study of human societies? If so how might we move beyond these stumbling blocks?
Though one might not necessarily be convinced about the usefulness of the interdisciplinary approach one cannot help but notice its usefulness in identifying and studying distinct sets of pointed socio-legal conversations of considerable contemporary significance. Some examples of these exchanges relevant to India would include the debates on caste, the contests over rights to the urban metropolis, the challenge of religious and ethnic violence, issues of rights, the questions raised by women's movement in India and so on. Underpinning many of these debates are the concerns that frame legal systems in most parts of the global south through the tensions of Modernity and Tradition, Coloniality and Post-Coloniality as well as Orientalism and Post Orientalism. We believe that many of these conversations tease out interesting aspects of legal problems in contemporary India especially the difficulties involved in understanding the working of law in post-colonial contexts. It is against this background that we propose a three-day seminar to discuss the manner in which these issues are configured as challenges for legal education. Further we also believe that all or many of these concerns resonate with experiences in contexts beyond India. Therefore we expect the seminar to think through some of the issues outlined above from a range of international perspectives, a task made especially urgent by the challenges of globalisation and the global crisis in determining the social mandate of law, legal systems and legal education.
Organisational Details and Particulars
As organizers we believe that an ambitious academic exercise such as the one outlined above one cannot but be a truly cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary exercise in order to make it both meaningful as well as enriching. Accordingly we are hopeful that a wide range of scholars from across the world will contribute to the dialogue at the seminar.
The seminar is structured as a set of three panels per day on each of the three days, with two to three speakers per panel and each panel moderated by a joint respondent. The audience beyond the participants will primarily be law students and other interested social science students from Bangalore and probably a few other parts of the country.
Intellectually seminar breaks down as follows: The first day is concerned with socio-legal debates emanating from legal academy and the concerns that it will explore are: -
1. The institutional and epistemic challenges facing legal academy in the global south (through the case of India).
2. The burdens of the critical traditions in legal study ( i.e. Marxist tradition, feminist traditions, the Critical Legal Studies movement etc.) and their impact or usefulness in the study of contemporary social problems.
3. The challenge of comparative legal study given that liberal legal models are the templates that determine the contours of legal systems (jurisdictions) in most parts of the world.
The second day deals with the way in which social scientist have found themselves confronted with legal problems, the manner in which they have addressed these problems and the place that such efforts must or could have on legal curricula. We hope to explore the following themes.
1. Law and the resolution of the women's question in post-colonial societies
2. The place of social and political histories in the study of law
3. The Margin of Rights: Post colonial critiques of rights discourses
The third day will be put together by a collaborating organisation, Alternative Law Forum and will primarily address new forms of knowledge production outside the conventional university space and which have implications for the study of law.