Following the success of our reading groups on 'Frankfurt School and Law in Society', 'Postcolonial Theory and Law in Society', and 'Feminism and Law in Society', we are holding a session with thematic discussion on 'Critical Legal Studies and Law in Society' with guest speakers Dr. Illan Rua Wall (Warwick) and Dr. Tomaso Ferrando (Warwick).

A Critical Legal Theory of Disorder (and Law) - Dr. Illan Rua Wall

The paper contrasts the US Critical Legal Studies (CLS) that every undergraduate is familiar with, to the very different line of critical legal theory that has developed in the UK (the so-called ‘BritCrits’ – although next to none of them were or are British). Where conventional US CLS built a movement with a mythology, origin story and (not so) subtle hierarchy, CLS in the UK begins from a series of corrosive and acrimonious disagreements. In the UK, left critique was cleft; divided and riven before any movement could be constituted. From this shattered origin a substantial proportion of the ‘BritCrits’ turn outwards, seeking to mediate between critical theory in its many forms and legal studies. Unlike the Americans who (with some notable exceptions) tended to focus on ‘the legal’, with critiques of adjudication and the thrashing method, the ‘BritCrits’ tend to turn to critical theory in the name of a ‘general jurisprudence’.

To instantiate the utility of this outward focus on critical theory, the paper will develop two different approaches to the novel field of ‘the Law of Disorder’. The ‘linguistic turn’ in critical theory will be used to frame the constitutional politics of popular power, and the ‘spatial turn’ allows us to frame the spatial dynamics of policing dissent.

Land Grabbing: A Critical Legal Chain Approach' - Dr. Tomaso Ferrando.
The presentation utilizes the case of two sugar cane plantations in Koh Kong (Cambodia) to take lawyers beyond the fetishism of the commodity and reflect on the forms of dispossession and legal resistance that characterize transnational supply chain capitalism. With a combination of legal institutionalism, critical geography and value chains analysis, I will discuss the role that multiple legal structures play in shaping the transnational form of production along with the redistributive possibilities that derive from delocalization and outsourcing. In line with critical legal scholarship, I will recognize the centrality of legal structures in exercising coercion and allocating bargaining power, but also introduce the notion of 'legal chokeholds' to discuss the multiplication of spaces of legal resistance that derives from the link between the 'global' nature of the capitalism and the 'legal territoriality' of the value chain.

Dr Illan rua Wall is an Associate Professor at the School of Law in the University of Warwick. From April, he will also hold an Early Career Research Fellowship from the Independent Social Research Foundation. His current research focuses upon the relation between law and disorder. It examines the disorder that makes up the basis of constituent power. Thinking about Occupy, the Indignados and the many current sites of unrest, it begins to develop the novel field of the ‘Law of Disorder’. This is not simply a collection of the various different legal apparatuses that repress or capture disorder, rather the ‘Law of Disorder’ thinks about law through and as disorder. He has published on critical legal theory, theories of constituent power, the Arab Spring, protest and transitional justice in Colombia, theories of human rights and revolt, and new Andean constitutional apparatuses. He is one of the editors of the blog www.criticallegalthinking.com, and is on the editorial board of the journal Law and Critique.

Dr. Tomaso Ferrando obtained his PhD in Law from Sciences Po Law School in 2015 and has been an Italian barrister since 2011. In the last four years he has been Resident Fellow at the Institute for Global Law and Policy (Harvard Law School), the Universidade de São Paulo (Commerce Law Department) and the University of Cape Town (Public Law Department). He holds a Master of Science in Comparative Law, Economics and Finance from the International University College of Turin, and hasbeen a visiting researcher at both the law and anthropology departments of UC Berkeley. In 2010 he orked as a pro bono lawyer for Racimos de Ungurahui, a Peruvian NGO specialized in providing legal support to local communities affected by development projects and resources extraction. Since then, he has been cooperating with local and international NGOs dealing with resource-related large-scale investments, including Greenpeace and Action Aid International.