Back to All Events

Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory

  • Melbourne Law School 185 Pelham Street Carlton, VIC 3056 (map)

The Laureate Program in International Law with the the Institute for International Law and the Humanities and Melbourne Law School is co-sponsoring the 11th edition of the Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory, an annual interdisciplinary workshop hosted by graduate researchers at Melbourne Law School that brings together research students from a range of academic disciplines to engage with social, political, theoretical, and methodological issues raised by law and legal theory.

The 11th Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory will take place on 4 and 5 December 2018. The theme for this year’s Forum is ‘Facts, Law and Critique’. Facts sustain law and legal institutions. Contesting, debating, and then, ‘finding’ or establishing facts is seen as essential to the process of law-making that follows. But, far from acting on or applying to a set of pre-existing facts, law produces, writes and determines its own facts, knowledges and truths. And the politics, procedures and histories of legal facts, unlike the law itself, are often taken as given, establishing a dichotomy between contesting the legal and accepting what remains outside of, or prior to, law. The recent unsettling of our contemporary faith in facts, objectivity, and transparency as a form of public knowledge and a precondition for politics provides us with an opportunity to revisit the relationship between law and facts.

How can understanding the way in which facts — as well as institutions, procedures and methods for finding facts — have been established and contested over time and throughout history shed new light on the present moment? How does law develop and reach out for technologies which establish facts through particular means? How does selecting and assembling facts in particular ways use law to establish and embed particular narratives? What is the place of critique in a time in which facts are ‘alternative’, or in struggles over who is authorised to produce truth? How does examining processes of fact-finding highlight the politics of legal facts and the exercise of power they represent? What is seen, and what lives become unseen, as law and law’s facts come to constitute a way of experiencing the world?

The Forum will bring together papers critically examining the relationship between facts and law from all areas of law and from a range of academic disciplines engaging with social, political, theoretical, and methodological issues raised by law and legal theory. Possible themes for discussion include:

  • Facts and institutions, including legal procedures of establishing facts such as international fact-finding missions, commissions of inquiry and truth commissions

  • Facts and representation, including the role of media, art and the image in law and legal analysis

  • Facts and empirics, such as work critiquing the role of data, technology, and the turn to economic and quantitative analysis in law

  • Facts and courts, agreed and disputed facts, evidential processes and the judgment as public record

  • Facts and governance, including the place of, and challenges to, objectivity, publicity, and transparency in contemporary forms of legal governance and law

  • Facts and epistemologies, including indigenous forms of knowledge, fact and law, as well as epistemologies of the South

  • Custom as law and the translation of fact and practice into law

  • Facts and imperialism, and the role of history in critiquing or recreating imperialist narratives and knowledges

  • Queer theory, ontology and the selectivity of law’s facts

  • Feminist critiques of the divide between law and fact

  • The craft of the lawyer: lawyers’ agency in and responsibility for the making of law and fact.

For more information please see the Forum’s website.

The call for papers in now closed. A detailed program will be available here once it is finalised.