Sheraton Wall Centre Hotel

2002 Vancouver, B.C., Canada

May 30-June 1


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:

The Reach of Law in a Globalized World: National boundaries are becoming more fluid and questionable as we move toward a more integrated world. How can law protect the rights of all individuals in such a world? How and when does the law of one country extend to punish leaders of another country for harms inflicted? How do we deal with the clash of laws from different countries? How do different countries use the law—e.g., policing, control over drugs, immigration, and tobacco regulation? How are ideas of legality constituted through different legal cultures? How are they influenced by economics, by state power? How do non-governmental legal orders affect these issues?

The Reach of Law in Pacific Rim-Asian Countries: The movement for constitutionalism, rule of law, judicial reform, and reform of legal education is sweeping east Asian countries. The Pacific Rim is a particularly exciting place to explore these legal developments. What impact does the reach of western law have on other countries? What can western countries learn from these other countries?

The Relationship of Canada and the United States: Co-sponsorship of the meeting by our two associations encourages us to consider the special relationship between Canada and the United States and the role of law in regulating that relationship. How does law define and distinguish our separate identities? When does it reach across and when does it stop at our respective borders? We invite comparative papers and panels on the reach of law in Canada and the United States on such issues as policing and law enforcement, civil liberties, speech, abortion, pornography, constitutional development, and immigration.

The Reach of Law Within Nations: As law reaches into diverse societies, it defines and differentiates people by characteristics such as citizenship, language, gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity. Sociolegal scholars regularly examine the treatment and experience of individuals and groups on the basis of these characteristics. How does law reach out to First Nations and other indigenous peoples and affect their lives? How does law protect civil liberties against the needs of the state to maintain order and safety in a world threatened by terrorists? How does the law limit state violence (as in the death penalty) in a democratic society where people want it? To what extent do issues of family, adoption, and new technologies of reproduction fall under the reach of law? How can law be used to fight discrimination in the workplace constrained as it is by social and economic structures? How do workplace norms and institutions transform laws of the state? What impact is deregulation having on the reach of law? How do non-governmental legal orders affect these issues?

Terrorism and the Reach of Law: As the Program Committee prepares this Call for Participation in mid-September of 2001, we are reeling from the aftershocks of terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania. How do and can existing legal systems, both national and international, deal with terrorism? Governmental responses to terrorist threats and actions raise new concerns about the precarious balance between security and legal rights, crime control and due process. With terrorism as justification, will law reach into previously private spaces?


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