From the Inside Out: Uncovering Administrative Legal Geographies

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Political Geography Specialty Group, Legal Geography Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM (MDT)
Room: Studio 10, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Organizers: Brandon Derman, Tiffany Grobelski
Chairs: Jesse McClelland


Legal geographies have laid bare law's complex action within and against state power. These include delineating spaces of incarceration, protection, and refuge; differentiating public from private and citizen from migrant; and contesting social and ecological injustice from the courts to the streets. Indeed, law's many contexts and effects embody multiple economic, social, historical, and ecological processes. Accordingly, legal geographies advance theories of performance, knowledge, and governmentality as well as state-making (Braverman et al. 2015, Dean 2009, Mitchell 1991).

Legal administration is no mundane bureaucratic matter, then, but a diverse field of socio-spatial practice across jurisdictions and places. By "administrative legal geographies" we mean the study of these practices and their social, spatial, and environmental implications. Examining them reveals contradictions and limits of global governance, as well as new articulations of (neo)liberal and authoritarian state order.

Yet analyzing administration faces considerable obstacles. Many administrative practices are hidden to non-specialists, securitized, or highly technical. Scholars have often misapprehended administration as purely "procedural," rather than "substantive" in its own right, an analytically costly separation (Benson 2015). Many have argued that focusing on administrative practices ultimately detracts from environmental and social justice goals (eg Pulido et al. 2016). Recent research illustrates the import of administrative practice: from institutionalizing exclusionary politics of recognition in postcolonial society (Coulthard 2014), to the limits of rights regimes in protecting people from violence (Spade 2011), to forestalling appropriate responses to climate crisis (Herbert et al. 2013).

Guiding questions for the session include:

How do particular administrative practices produce and/or depend upon spaces, and with what consequences and ties to wider social dynamics?

How can we theorize administrative legal processes and practices in ways valid and useful not only to academic geographers, but to other social scientists and practitioners (including lawyers, non-governmental organizations, social movement actors, civil servants, and even the general public)?

How might ethnographic, textual, participatory, or other methods help to illuminate practices of administration, their consequences, and their analysis? What ethical and logistical issues attend such projects?


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Kevin Raleigh*, University of Cincinnati, Colleen McTague, Niehoff Urban Design Studio, Chad Kinsella, Ball State University, Imagined Justice: The Disconnect between Legal Protections and Administrative Enforcement of Day Laborer Rights in New Mexico 20 3:20 PM
Presenter Tiffany L Grobelski*, United States Department of Homeland Security, The Front Lines of Public Law: Administrative Legal Processes as Contact Zones 20 3:40 PM
Presenter Shaina Potts*, UC Los Angeles, Dis-placed Justice: the Judicialization of Global Economic Relations 20 4:00 PM
Presenter Jill Harrison*, University of Colorado At Boulder, Regulatory Culture and the Administration of Environmental Justice Policy 20 4:20 PM
Presenter Melinda Benson*, University of New Mexico, Government, governance and the changing role of law 20 4:40 PM

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