Grasping 'Everyday Justice': An Ethnographic Approach
6 - 7 February 2015
Hosted by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge, UK
Just as the effects of the law do not belong to any specific institutional space or domain, but manifest themselves in everyday life, so too does justice permeate the everyday (e.g., Merry 1990; Greenhouse, Yngvesson, & Engel 1994; Ewick & Silbey 1998; Sarat & Kearns 2009). Justice is woven into the fabric of everyday existence at different levels and in manifold ways. People understand, perceive, receive, experience and accomplish justice in many forms, either by themselves or through the mediation of other actors. Justice is plural in its meanings and expressions, while regimes of justice range in scale from family arbitration and indigenous forms of justice, to the International Criminal Court. It therefore seems inevitable that justice will remain both a familiar ideal or norm, and a difficult concept to specify.
This conference aims to generate a cumulative account of the 'everyday nature of justice'. We invite theoretically grounded papers offering ethnographic insights into the plural nature of 'everyday justice' across the globe. By bringing together scholars whose work teases out the multiple locations and layers of 'everyday justices', our goal is to spotlight the process of everyday justice formation in all its ambiguity, complexity and plurality.
We encourage papers addressing any of the following broadly defined lines of inquiry:
Contributions that explore the intersection of institutionalized forms of justice and the everyday. The aim here is to link key actors – such as judges, lawyers, leaders and mediators who have dealings with formal or informal justice in both their institutionalized professional practice and their daily lives – to more 'ordinary' actors who experience justice from an day-to-day perspective, in typically less institutionally specific, yet often more pervasive ways.
Contributions that document 'justice pluralism' (Brunnegger & Faulk n.d.), i.e., the plurality of meanings and experiences that people attach to justice, including but not limited to 'institutional/non-institutional' interfaces. For example, papers on this theme might explore how people understand justice (as an idea or norm) in their daily lives, or investigate how justice interventions unfold or otherwise make their presence felt in daily contexts, such as the operations of 'transitional justice' mechanisms.
Contributions that highlight or complicate our understanding of 'everyday justices' by exploring, what Clarke and Goodale (2010)'s label 'the constitution of everyday justice,' where justice is understood as a constitutively ingrained grid. This theme explores how justice and concepts of ethics, morality, peoples' rights, the law and other forms of political discourses intersect in everyday and institutionalized ways.
In soliciting work at the junction of 'justice' and the 'everyday', we intend to provoke a reconceptualization of justice across multiple settings, one that brings a wider and more plural range of scholarship to bear on currently intractable social conflicts. Papers should lend ethnographic substance to our understandings of the multiform ways in which everyday notions of justice are rooted in social processes of meaning-making.
Please send abstracts of up to 500 words along with a brief biographical statement to Sandra Brunnegger <email@example.com> by October 24, 2014. Decisions will be made by October 31, 2014.
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