Normative Interfaces of Globalization and High-Tech Capitalism: Legal Pluralism and the Neo-Liberal Turn

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1 International Conference of the Commission on Legal Pluralism in collaboration with the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay Normative Interfaces of Globalization and High-Tech Capitalism: Legal Pluralism and the Neo-Liberal Turn Location: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, India Dates: December 2015 Themes 1. Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Legal Pluralism Theoretical and methodological approaches, perspectives, tool-kits, conceptual frameworks, and debates have continually evolved as legal pluralism scholars have attempted to expand the scope and depth of their work. Working within and across social science and humanities disciplines, as well as inter-disciplinary fields, scholars have attempted to study parallel and linked legal and normative systems. This theme will provide an opportunity to explore the kind of theoretical debates that are currently taking place in the field of legal pluralism. Papers presented under this theme will address questions such as: What kind of theoretical debates are currently taking place in the field of legal pluralism and what are their theoretical and methodological motivations? Which methodological and conceptual innovations cause excitement in terms of 1

2 novelty, innovation, and capacity to further our research agendas in new directions? How are old debates being recast while being applied to newer research problems and changing social contexts at global, regional, and local scales? How are issues of comparison being addressed? What are the theoretical and methodological problems in comparative legal pluralism research? In attempts to differentiate among and between different types and intensities of legal pluralism, further questions could be explored in this theme: What kinds of challenges are faced, especially in efforts to deal with legal pluralism as a discrete rather than a continuous variable? Do dichotomous treatments of legal pluralism discourage the emergence of concepts and methodologies that would enable researchers to conduct macro-sociological and comparative analyses of legal pluralism? Do scholars borrow from adjacent disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields in answering such questions? Should we push for greater use of quantitative methods in legal pluralism research? Panels within this theme therefore invite scholars and researchers from all disciplines to investigate historical or contemporary instances of legal pluralism and engage in discussions of emerging theories, concepts, frameworks, research methods and tools that could provide better analyses of legal pluralism across diverse spatiotemporal scales. 2. Governance and Politics: Juridification, Neo-liberalism and Political Aspirations Governance and politics have been central to discussions and growth in the field of legal pluralism for a long time, and continue to resonate with scholars who attempt a foray into new areas. Historical as well as contemporary critiques have expanded on classical themes to propose new and more nuanced ways of understanding themes related to governance and politics justice, equity, managing diversity and conflicts, implications of migration, minorities and demographic change, interface of customary laws and state law, transnational legal dimensions of the globalization of governance and political mobilization, 2

3 neo-liberal governance, increased marketization, multiculturalism, decentralization and devolution, and attempts to regulate legal pluralism. Papers presented under this theme will deal with questions such as: What are the legal challenges and responses from state and non-state actors to the aforementioned transformations and historical movements? What do ongoing and historical experiences in these domains tell us about their consequences in the long and short terms for institutions, social processes, and problems of equity, justice, and welfare? What kinds of strategies and measures emerge in legal regulation especially in the context of a neo-liberal turn in economic and governance? What facilitates or hinders the adoption of such regulatory frameworks and their implementation? How are federal as well as devolution models engaging with demands arising from actors demanding changes from a legal pluralist normative perspective? How do federal and decentralization models respond to inequalities and aspirations in societies with large diversity and welfare problems? Issues of juridification, customary justice, local-global interfaces (embedding / dis-embedding of institutions, norms, and processes), as well as the mutual influences and determinations of economy, religion, culture, and legal systems, could also be themes that offer new scope for research on governance and political regimes. Contributions based on empirical research in specific cases or with a regional focus are particularly welcome. 3. Natural Resources, Land and Property: Old and New Forms of Legal Pluralism Since the 1970s, legal issues related to natural resources, land, and property have been the dominant theme of research for legal pluralism scholars around the world, bridging regions, economic models, stages of growth, and political systems. More significantly, research on these themes significantly influenced theoretical and conceptual development of the field of legal pluralism itself. These continue to be important areas of research for those with an interest in studying legal pluralism as a phenomenon and as a perspective in the contemporary world. Scholars are trying to build on existing work by attempting 3

4 to analyze natural resource and law problems against the backdrop of neoliberal market reforms in resource based sectors such as mining, agriculture, fisheries, and water; yet others adapt older theorizations to newer ways of assessing the implications of / for biotechnology, sustainability, commodification, commons, and environmental justice. Newer insights and frameworks for legal pluralism theory are also emerging from such studies. Cross-border resource conflicts, international environmental agreements, and new policy prescriptions can all be studied and analyzed using a legal pluralism lens. Theoretically, developments in political ecology, political geography, and sustainability studies are influencing the ways in which legal pluralism scholars attempt to re-look at their research agendas and frameworks. Newer systems of governance that are evolving in response to conflicts, scarcity, degradation, and inequality can also be subjects for research. A key concern reflected in ongoing research but requiring many more scholars to work on, relates to urban environments and sustainability issues, including the problem of urban commons, and urban-hinterland resource flows and nexus. In the global south, resource management and governance studies are increasingly responding to new claims on space and resources, and neo-liberal shifts in environmental management, regulation, and legislation. 4. Human Rights and Development: Emerging Discourses In contrast to simplistic understandings of the relationship between human rights and legal pluralism as mutually incompatible, legal pluralism scholars have significantly shifted the terms of this debate by showing the complexities involved when human rights law, justice, and equity are at stake in contexts where a multiplicity of legal orders co-exist. In particular, discourses on the nexus between state law, and human rights are made more complicated and nuanced, as new evidence emerges of multiple sources of human rights abuse and protection. Challenging notions of universalism and state-centredness of human rights definitions and protections, researchers have drawn upon the existence of multiple legal orders and sources of law to throw light on abuse and upholding of human rights by a multiplicity of state and non-state actors in 4

5 unequal societies with highly asymmetric power relations. Recognizing the multi-layered nature of human rights law and the polycentric character of its sources of authority, research has developed insights for the potential of human rights norms to address problems of social justice and equity, as well as access to institutions, resources, and infrastructure that have the capacity to enhance social welfare substantially. The transnationalization of the human rights discourse, and the emergence of inter and trans-national bodies in this realm have redefined and re-invigorated local level associations and institutions yielding hybrid, and multiple forms of justice delivery mechanisms and civil society initiatives. Papers under this theme could focus on the use of human rights discourses by relatively new groups in the human rights arena (such as peasants, some ethnic minorities, working classes, queer groups, displaced populations, environmental activists etc.), or on new forms of human rights discourses that expand the idea to include other domains and species (such as multi-species anthropology, anthropocene, deep ecology, climate change etc.), as well as on human rights discourses that are being used by sundry social movements to put pressure on the neo-liberal state to expand its welfare provisions (such as food security, energy security, right to education, right to information etc.). 5. Religion and Culture: Social and Legal Transformations Religion and culture have been important sources of legal pluralism providing legitimacy for alternative normative systems, as well as organizational and institutional locations for law-making, regulation, control, and implementation of rules and norms. Together with issues of land, property and natural resources, religion has been a rich and fertile ground for the study of legal pluralism. Religious or religion sanctioned tribunals, courts, dispute settlement mechanisms, and arbitration panels continue to survive and even expand across the world, providing an alternative to, or more often supplementing state institutions. The internet provides and generates new forms of religious and cultural action, rituals, and norms, as technology enhances forms and 5

6 experiences of worship and faith related activities. Culture continues to be of enormous import in affecting social mobilizations, and struggles and conflicts between individuals and groups more than ever are to do with religiously and culturally defined identities, ways of life, and world-views. Simultaneously activists and scholars draw from religion and faith in launching inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue across and between normative systems as ways of promoting tolerance, cooperation, and conflict mitigation and management. Personal law issues have gained a new salience with global flows of migrant populations, with attendant migration of cultures, structures, ideas, and symbols. Papers can focus on these as well as more classic issues that study religion and customary laws from a legally pluralistic perspective. The papers under this theme may address questions such as: How are concepts and theories, as well as practices related to secularism recast in these transnational, globalized, neo-liberal times against the backdrop of the war on terrorism? Are new cults and sects leading to the rise of new normative regimes? What are the implications of popular middle class religiosity, global guru cults, and the massive presence of religion in older and new electronic and social media for legal pluralism? What are the legal and normative issues that arise in the context of growing religion related mobilities, religious tourism, and the materialization and commodification of religious artefacts and services? 6. Science, Technology and Law Development projects are increasingly become scientized, becoming subject to technical and technological expertise and normative regimes. Technological understandings more than ever affect and influence our understanding, regulation and policy making process in a wide range of fields environment, development and welfare, security, accountability and transparency, resource management, communication, economic transactions, and governance. These add additional layers of complexity to legal systems, rule-making, and compliance systems. With more projects of development and consumption from the state and market deploying and utilizing technological instruments (GIS, 6

7 mobile phones, internet), and more political agents making use of new technologically driven social media, the time has come to comprehensively map their implications for law and legal processes. Issues of inclusion and exclusion, which groups are affected by introduction of technologies on a massive scale, and how technological artefacts determine and influence bodies and regimes of knowledge and knowledge generation / dissemination are crucial for our understanding of modern processes of normative decision making. Issues of governmentality and governability, democracy, techniques of governance, and processes of state formation, and subject formation can all be studied within the context of legal pluralism, with a focus on inequality and asymmetry in the social structure. Creation of new knowledge regimes, problems of access to knowledge, emergence of new definitions and systems around expertise all create new inequalities or exacerbate older ones in the fields of health, disaster impacts, resource management, the work sphere, and livelihoods. Science and Technology discoveries and innovations create new sophisticated legal configurations and thereby affect processes of norm and law production on diverse scales. Experimentation, classificatory and taxonomic systems, intellectual property rights and patents, technological risk assessments these have legal implications and are subject to multiple normative pressures from the local to the global levels. Globalization, and high-tech capitalism have forged new legal paths in areas such as biotechnology, genetic engineering, nano-technology, telecommunications, space research, and information and communication technologies. With appropriate and effective regulatory systems yet to be put in place for many of these technological systems, legal pluralism has become the norm globally and in many countries. Expansion of legal pluralism perspectives into the arena of STS is likely to be fruitful and mutually beneficial for both fields. 7

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