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Practitioners, Positionality, and Praxis: Methods in Legal Geography

Authors: Tiffany Grobelski*, Gustavus Adolphus College
Topics: Legal Geography, Political Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: legal geography, administrative law, methods, participant observation
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper uses my experience working as an asylum officer within the US Department of Homeland Security to reflect on issues of researcher subjectivity and positionality within legal geographic research. I argue that participant observation and action research in which geographers are legal practitioners—who “make” and “do” law in administrative legal settings—not only deepens our ability to understand both the co-constitution of legal subjectivity as well as of law and space. Such research also enhances our praxis as scholars and members of the public who aim to responsibly map and specify the operation of state power. Participant observation and action research provides useful purchase on contemporary administrative governance processes, and their spatial, temporal dynamics within and outside of administrative agencies.

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