Themes and Sites of the Annual Meetings
|2016 New Orleans, Louisianna (New Orleans Marriott) June 2 - 5
Theme: AT THE DELTA: Belonging, Place and Visions of Law and Social Change
An abiding theme in law and society scholarship is the relationship between law and social change. Change can arise from many factors including the movement of people with their own traditions and beliefs, and their interaction with the forces of nature that affect the environments in which we live.
The site of the 2016 meeting, New Orleans, embodies as a place the experiences and processes of constant change that lie at the heart of law and society. Legally, socially, politically and geographically, the city has been a site of constant change, from flowing water and shifting silt as well as from political mobilization over equality, inclusion and exclusion, the blending of different legal traditions, and the boundaries of legal responsibility. In the 19th century, Plessy v. Ferguson and other key cases that provided the legal framework for segregation originated in New Orleans. Today, in the aftermath of both Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, the city is a symbol of contested rebirth in which the diversity of its culture is confronted by forces of economic rationalization and state regulation, forces it faces not only with its legacies of discrimination but also with pride in its unique traditions and powers of assimilation and innovation.
What visions of law and social change can we appreciate, imagine, and/or sustain, in the face of such constant change? The 2016 Law and Society Meeting will initiate our consideration of these themes of place and change through four plenary sessions that will focus on: (1) Jim Crow, New and Old -- race and the constitution of society; (2) Who Belongs, Who Doesn’t – law, citizenship and political economy in the 21st century; (3) Histories of Empire and Legal Pluralism – mixed legal systems around the globe; and, (4) Natural and Unnatural Disasters – human crises and law’s response.
|2015 Seattle, Washington (Westin Seattle) May 28 - May 31
Theme: Law’s Promise and Law's Pathos in the Global North and Global South
What has law accomplished in the Global North and Global South? Its champions have promised much—the spread of human rights and the rule of law, the elimination of discrimination and the protection of the vulnerable, the lure of economic development and the fostering of global trade, endowments of human dignity and restraints on economic rapacity. Its critics observe law as an instrument for repression, hegemonic control and infringements on privacy and intrusive surveillance (in the context of a never-ending and ubiquitous ‘war against terror’), as a weapon against free speech or political opposition, as a tool of economic exploitation and domination, and as a retreat from politics. The 2015 LSA annual meeting will engage law’s promises and law’s pathos in domestic and transnational contexts, through plenaries addressing the roles of law in the war on terror, in climate change, in emancipation and protection of the world’s most vulnerable populations, and in law’s relationships with religions.
|2014 Minneapolis, Minnesota (Minneapolis Hilton Hotel) May 29 - June 1
Theme: Law and Inequalities: Global and Local
Recent decades have seen the persistence and growth of powerful inequalities within and between groups and within and among nations. The 2014 program theme returns to a question central to the Association’s founding: the role of law and legal institutions in sustaining, creating, interrogating, and ameliorating inequalities. The 2014 Program invites participants to explore and consider three questions:
Contemporary inequalities are linked to profound changes in the organization of major social institutions, as well as to the emergence of new ones. These changes occur against a backdrop of rapidly evolving technologies that, although they have the potential to democratize knowledge and capability, have also led to deepening divisions. For example, the most recent global financial crisis revealed failures in national economies, a new centrality of finance in both national function and daily life, globalization of financial activity without globalization of social regulation, and the movement of capital without regard to national needs or local conditions. To take another example, the promise of the internet includes its accessibility as both a means of communication and a space for organizing and protest, but nevertheless it remains an arena in which access, resources and rewards are highly unequal. Similarly, the development of global supply chains has expanded opportunities for production and for employment, yet these expansions have been attended by great disparities in people’s working lives and in freedom to move and migrate to find work.
Law and Society scholarship has been and continues to be motivated by a wish to reduce inequalities and to further the goals of fairness and justice. Scholarship in the traditions of access to justice, human rights, and the rule of law, for example, is consistently engaged with these themes. But what impact should we anticipate this scholarship to have on the inequalities that motivate it? If the impact is small, is this failure a result of the limitations of law itself, or of our scholarly interrogations of it?
|2013 Boston, Massachusetts (Sheraton Boston Hotel) May 30 - June 2
Theme: Power, Privilege, and the Pursuit of Justice: Legal Challenges in Precarious Times
The meeting’s theme aims to incite debate on the challenges that will define law and society over the next decade. The financial crisis that struck in 2008 still rends the economy, politics, law, and society. How will polarized politics, rapid technological change, and global shifts in economic power affect law and society over the next years, domestically and transnationally?
To envision the future, we invite participants to extend and rethink law and society’s past insights to engage a new and changing context. The Program Committee has listed a series of sub-themes in featured sessions and other panels with the aim of spurring cross-cutting discussions.
|2012 International Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii (Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort) [June 5 - 8]
Theme: Sociolegal Conversations Across a Sea of Islands
Building on a phrase coined by noted Polynesian scholar Epeli Hau‘ofa, our conference theme alludes both to the location of our meeting in Hawai‘i with its complex cultural and legal terrain and contemporary struggles over sovereignty and indigenous rights; and to the uniqueness of this opportunity for scholars from the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, North America, and other world regions to engage in conversation. So we seek papers, panels, and roundtables aimed at stimulating conversations that will build bridges across the seas of law and society and at the same time redirect their currents; about issues and ideas that are at once locally grounded and globally relevant; that seek to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar; that cross national, cultural, and disciplinary boundaries.
Our theme is broad, encompassing socio-legal concerns both familiar (such as courts and litigation, legal education, health, legal pluralism) and novel (such as indigenous peoples, finance and economy, war and human security, immigration, counter-terrorism, transnational regulation, globalization, and recolonization)
This meeting was jointly co-sponsored with the Research Committee on Sociology of Law (RCSL) of the International Sociological Association (ISA). It had a special focus on Asia and had co-sponsorship of the Canadian Law and Society Association Japanese Association of Sociology of Law, and Socio-Legal Studies Association (UK).
|2011 San Francisco, California (Westin St. Francis) [June 2 - 5]
Theme: Oceans Apart? Narratives of (Il)Legality in Liminal Locations
Law and Society scholars have consistently challenged both the fit and the applicability of these and other binaries, questioning what citizenship status, class, race, or politics really mean in myriad contexts. However, early in a new decade (and new century), many law and society scholars find ourselves in somewhat of a liminal space, facing whole new sets of border crossings, blurring boundaries, empirical challenges, and conceptual conundra. For example, in the U.S., the continued growth of mass incarceration coupled with the extended reach of criminal law and “civil” municipal regulations have destabilized entire communities, where categories of “incarcerated” and “free” are no longer clearly distinguishable. Around the world, political and legal responses to human migration have broken down lines between immigration law, economic regulation, and criminal justice in complex and often troubling ways.
|2010 Chicago, Illinois (Renaissance Hotel) [May 27 - 30]
Theme: After Critique: What is Left of the Law and Society Paradigm?
Born out of disillusionment with the failures of liberal legalism to deliver social justice or equality, law and society scholarship at the time aimed to expose those failures and challenge liberal legalism’s legitimating premises. Twenty years after the founding of LSA, during the decade of the 1980s, the critical impulse of law and society scholarship was itself put under the microscope by some who turned critique inward, calling out law and society scholars for embracing empty empiricism or for their complicity with legal and political elites. In this period, meta-debates raged over theoretical, methodological, and political questions.
|2009 Denver, Colorado (Grand Hyatt) [May 28 - 31]
Theme: Law, Power, and Inequality in the 21st Century
Urbanization, race relations, poverty, and crime were central concerns of sociolegal scholars at the Association's founding in the 1960s. After 45 years, fundamental structures of inequality remain substantially unaffected by a variety of efforts of legal reform and reconstruction. New forms of inequality and resistance have emerged as globalization links people, economies, and states in new ways. The theme of this year’s Annual Meeting returns to the Law and Society Association’s historic questioning of the relationships between law, power, and inequality.
The current historical moment presents challenges to achieving equality that pose relevant and probing questions for the Law and Society community to address both globally and locally. New questions about persistent problems of poverty, health care, and opportunities for mobility by oppressed groups must be raised and addressed. Old questions need to be reconsidered, as new forms of inequality demand our attention.
Has the use of law advanced or inhibited individual and group rights? Have new understandings of the intersection of social statuses changed our understanding of the role of law in producing or reducing inequality? What has been the role of new, non-state forms of governance in the production of inequality? Should law and social science provide the expertise to stimulate and inform the impending social agenda? Should social scientists and lawyers become allies to address these pressing problems and if so, how should they collaborate?
|2008 Montreal, Quebec (Hilton Bonaventure and Marriott Chateau Champlain)
(w/ Canadian Law and Society Association)
[May 29 - June 1]
Theme: Les Territoires du Droit: Placing Law
The theme for this meeting signals that law is rooted in places — from families and villages to the global economy — and that law has the power to place and displace people in space, time, and relationships. We invite papers and encourage multi-disciplinary scholarship that reflect on the many dimensions of law, place, and power.
|2007 International Meeting in Berlin, Germany (w/ RCSL & other co-sponsors)
(Humboldt Universityand Free University of Berlin) [July 25 - 28]
Theme: Law and Society in the 21st Century: Transformations, Resistances, Futures
We invite you to join colleagues from around the world to reflect on the law and society in the 21st century. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is commonly evoked as the symbolic beginning of the 21st century, so it is fitting that we are holding this meeting in Berlin.
|2006 Baltimore, Maryland (Marriott Waterfront) [July 6 - 9]
Theme: Law’s End(s)?
In the spirit of the Law and Society Association’s long tradition of research into unsettled and unsettling issues, the 2006 meeting’s theme poses many profound questions regarding challenges facing the rule of law early in the twenty-first century. We highlight in particular the following observations and puzzles.
Second, the global spread of Western legal norms, and especially those associated with the United States, seems to highlight law’s growing significance in contemporary life at the same time that the proliferation of profoundly different legal orders undermines any common view about the core elements of law itself. Have we come to the end of any coherent singular understanding about what the “rule of law” requires? Do new forms of capitalism, governance, etc. demand new models of law that we do not yet imagine?
|2005 Las Vegas, Nevada (J. W. Marriott Resort) [June 2 - 5]
Theme: Sociolegal Futures: Gambles, Dangers, Dreams, Stakes
In the spirit of the Law and Society Association’s long tradition of research at the edges of unsettled and unsettling questions, the annual meeting in Las Vegas will offer an occasion for colleagues across disciplines to take stock of the new demands these times present to sociolegal scholars’ theoretical imaginations and professional practices.
The theme for this meeting encourages us to reflect on our aspirations as scholars and teachers. The immediate future before us is, as we all know, likely to be filled with war, terrorism, corporate globalization, global insecurity, militarized states, varieties of nationalisms, intolerance, and a politics of near despair. For those of us in positions of relative privilege, the immediate future also is likely to include the experience of continuity in our everyday lives as teachers, scholars, and legal actors. We hope that this meeting will offer space to reflect on what motivates us both in our engagement with the world and in the production of our scholarship.
At its inception, the Law and Society Association was founded by scholars who focused on questions of inequality, of modernity and modernization, of access to lawquestions that reflected their times and that the mainstream disciplines deemed too marginal for serious attention. Those questions have, of course, left legacies of unfinished business, as well as of considerable achievements. So, too, does the energy for intellectual exchange at those margins remain, and those margins are wide enough to accommodate the hundreds of humanities, social science, and legal scholars, as well as advocates, from North and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Near East, who do their work under the rubric of sociolegal studies. This annual meeting is an ideal occasion to gather together to consider theories, methods, and problems that are currently emergent, perhaps not yet even fully discernible. The call for papers is a broad invitation to look ahead, in the spirit of renewing the resources of sociolegal scholarship for the twenty-first century.
|2004 Chicago, Illinois (40th Anniversary Meeting) (Renaissance Hotel) [May 27 - 30]
Theme: Law, Power, and Injustice: Confronting the Legacies of Sociolegal Research
The year 2004 marks the 40th anniversary of the Law and Society Association, an anniversary that corresponds to the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, and the 60th anniversary of the publication of Myrdal’s American Dilemma. Those events raised critical issues about the relationship between law, power, and injustice, and about the role that law and society scholarship can and should play in efforts at social change. What can we learn from these experiences and those in other areas of the world? How do global developments—from the collapse and reemergence of colonialism to the Cold War competition between capitalism and socialism; from the rise of new international frameworks on human rights to new conflicts on world trade; from tensions between the “rule of law” and the “war on terrorism” aid our understanding of the relationship between law and power?
The theme of this year’s meeting asks for a critical examination of the legacy of law and society scholarship in the context of new challenges to it. How do we now think of the momentous events whose anniversary we share? Were they liberatory moments that fundamentally altered patterns of social injustice, primarily symbolic achievements, mechanisms for legitimizing new forms of inequality or some combination? How well have the traditional methods and epistemologies of social science served to understand these issues, compared to new approaches such as critical feminist, race, and cultural studies? We invite papers and panels that look to the past and to the future on these or other themes important to law and society scholarship.
|2003 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Omni William Penn Hotel) [June 5 - 8]
Theme: Rivers of Law: The Confluence of Life, Work and Justice
The conference theme—Rivers of Law—draws on Pittsburgh’s topography. Pittsburgh lies at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, which together form the Ohio River. The Ohio River has played important historical roles: as a pathway of American westward migration, as a border between slavery and freedom, and as a great industrial concourse. The river metaphor evokes many attributes of the interplay of law and society—currents and countercurrents, nature and regulation, borders and unions, erosion and change, and dams that direct resources toward some and away from others (to name just a few).
The Program Committee invites participants to consider the confluence of life, work, and justice in the broadest sense. Pittsburgh’s rich history offers some key examples of how life, work, and justice come together. Pittsburgh has been the site of significant industrial development, made possible by the immigration of large numbers of European workers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and some of the most violent labor conflicts in the U.S., such as the Homestead Strike of 1892. The city is also a rare example of successful environmental cleanup, as smokestack industries have given way to high technology, including biotechnology. Today, medicine and health care account for a great portion of Pittsburgh’s economy. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which has pioneered many medical techniques including organ transplantation, is the region’s leading employer. With its active, influential African-American community, Pittsburgh is also an excellent site for discussions of the construction of racial and ethnic identities in relation to themes of life, work, and justice.
|2002 Vancouver, B.C., Canada (Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel) (w/ Canadian Law and Society Association) [May 30 - June 1]
Theme: The Reach of the Law
Law permeates every aspect of our lives—or does it? Sociolegal scholars have long debated and discussed what we call the "reach" of law—the impact of law in a globalized world, the extent to which law regulates social and political life within and across borders, how law defines the experiences and treatment of diverse groups within societies, the promulgation of law and legal systems in developing societies, and the significance of law in everyday life. Law can also include non-state legal orders such as customary law and religion. Our perspectives on the Reach of Law will vary depending on where we are situated—geographically, politically, socially, culturally, and intellectually. We hope the Vancouver meetings will be enriched by exploring and comparing the perspectives associated with these differing vantage points. Reflecting the meeting's location and recent events, the Program Committee invites participants to consider the reach of law in some of the following subject areas:
|2001 International Meeting in Budapest, Hungary (w/ RCSL) (Central European University) [July 4 -7]
Theme: Law in Action
The field of sociolegal studies has long been organized around the idea that "law on the books" is different from "law in action." Usually this means that law as it is experienced in the lives of people is different from law as an abstract field of knowledge. Also, law as it is interpreted and applied often bears little resemblance to the formal statute or written legal code. We therefore take "law in action" as our theme this year because it is one of the enduring and centrally important ideas of our field.
2000 Miami Beach, Florida (Loews Miami Beach Hotel, South Beach)
1999 Chicago, Illinois (Renaissance Hotel)
1998 Aspen, Colorado (Snowmass Village)
1997 St. Louis, Missouri (Adam's Mark)
1996 International Meeting in Glasgow, Scotland (w/ RCSL) (Strathclyde University)
1995 Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Royal York)
1994 Phoenix, Arizona (Arizona Biltmore)
1993 Chicago, Illinois (Stouffer, now Renaissance Hotel)
1992 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Hershey Hotel)
1991 International Meeting in Amsterdam, Netherlands (w/ RCSL) (University of Amsterdam)
1990 Berkeley, California (Clairmont Resort)
1989 Madison, Wisconsin (25th Anniversary Meeting) (Concourse)
1988 Vail, Colorado (Mark Marriott)
1987 Washington, DC (Capital Hilton)
1986 Chicago, Ill (Hilton)
1985 San Diego, California (Hilton)
1984 Boston, Massachusetts (w/ RCSL) (Marriott)
1983 Denver, Colorado
1982 Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Osgoode Hall)
1981 Amherst, Massachusetts (Amherst College)
1980 Madison, Wisconsin (w/ RCSL) (Concourse)
1979 San Francisco, California
1978 Minneapolis, Minnesota (First Annual Meeting)
1975 Buffalo, New York (First National Meeting) (SUNY-Buffalo)