International Research Collaboratives

Mapping the Pasts and Futures of Law and Society Scholarship in Africa

Organizers

Dee Smyth, Sanele Siband, Jonathan Klaaren

African scholars, mostly in the diaspora, represent fewer than 2% of authors ever published in leading socio-legal journals. What is striking is not only the paucity of scholarship on and from Africa, but also its narrowness that focuses on a predictable set of topics: South Africa’s 1994 transition and its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Rwandan genocide, HIV/AIDS, gendered and inter-ethnic violence and legal pluralism. This scholarship reflects very little of the law-in-everyday-life or everyday-practice-of-law research that grounds our understanding of the relationship between law and society and theory-building on legal institutions, professionals, and practices. This IRC aims to address the gap in African law and society scholarship. In doing so, we intend to study the pluralities of historiographies and imaginings of law and society scholarship in and on Africa. By mapping the pasts and futures of African law and society scholarship, the IRC seeks to establish a programmatic approach through which to locate and grapple with contemporary debates, including on decolonization, globalization and climate change, in a way that places the contribution and continuing relevance of law and society scholarship under scrutiny.

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