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Legal Studies Research Paper Series
Paper No. 2013 - 032
The Expanding Spaces of Law:
A Timely Legal Geography
SUNY Buffalo Law School
Simon Fraser University
Jurisprudence and Social Thought, Amherst College
Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar
Haifa University, Israel
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Expanding the Spaces of Law
Irus Braverman, Nicholas Blomley, David Delaney,
and Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar
legal geography: a dynamic definition
Legal geography is a stream of scholarship that takes the interconnections between
law and spatiality, and especially their reciprocal construction, as core objects of
inquiry. Legal geographers contend that in the world of lived social relations and
experience, aspects of the social that are analytically identiﬁed as either legal or
spatial are conjoined and co-constituted. Legal geographers note that nearly every
aspect of law is located, takes place, is in motion, or has some spatial frame of
reference. In other words, law is always “worlded” in some way. Likewise, social
spaces, lived places, and landscapes are inscribed with legal signiﬁcance. Distinc-
tively legal forms of meaning are projected onto every segment of the physical
world. These meanings are open to interpretation and may become caught up in a
range of legal practices. Such fragments of a socially segmented world—the where
of law—are not simply the inert sites of law but are inextricably implicated in how
Legal geography is not a subdiscipline of human geography, nor does it name
an area of specialized legal scholarship. Rather, it refers to a truly interdisciplin-
ary intellectual project. It is less a “ﬁeld” than braided lines of inquiry that have
emerged out of the conﬂuence of various intellectual interests. The now scores
of articles, books, collections, special issues, workshops, conference papers, and
courses that constitute this project evince a fairly wide range of topics and theo-
retical approaches. Some practitioners, such as the editors of this volume, may
identify themselves as legal geographers, but the majority are more casual or itin-
erant participants whose primary intellectual concerns are elsewhere. We there-
fore identify the lines of inquiry that constitute legal geography more with the
content of the work produced than with the self-declared identity of the scholar.
Legal geography shares important conceptual similarities with other interdis-
ciplinary and subdisciplinary endeavors, such as historical geography, law and
society, legal anthropology, and legal history. Whereas in law and society
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 1 27/01/14 1:56 PM
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scholarship, interactions between the “legal” and the “social” are foregrounded,
and in legal history time serves as the major organizing concept, in legal geogra-
phy space is foregrounded and serves as an organizing principle. Unlike either of
these traditions, however, legal geography occupies little institutional presence: it
has no specialized journals, graduate programs, or professional associations, and it
is rarely taught in law schools or geography departments. This is the result, in part,
of the relative novelty of this project as well as the inertia in processes of academic
Our introduction identiﬁes and elaborates on three modes of legal geographic
research. The ﬁrst mode of legal geography includes disciplinary work in law or
in geography that is modeled on the conventional image of import and export.
The second is an interdisciplinary pursuit in which scholars in law and geography
draw on the work of one another and seek to contribute to the development of
a common project. The third mode moves beyond legal geography to transdisci-
plinary, or perhaps even postdisciplinary, modes of scholarship. Although these
three modes exist concurrently, the general trajectory over time has been from
disciplinary to interdisciplinary and, ﬁnally, to postdisciplinary orientations. This
triadic classiﬁcation helps organize the rich yet eclectic legal geography scholar-
ship that has evolved over the past thirty years or so. It is, however, also limited
for two reasons. First, explorations of the relation between law and space occurred
even before the starting point of our review in the 1980s. Second, the linear depic-
tion of these modes as progressing in time—namely, of subsequent modes that su-
persede what preceded them—is not fully accurate. As discussed here, antecedents
of postdisciplinary work were discernible already in the 1980s, and much excellent
and necessary discipline-speciﬁc work continues to be done today.
While this volume contains elements of each mode, it also urges interested
scholars to move legal geography beyond the disciplinary boundaries into the
horizons of a post–legal geography. Ironically, then, the ultimate success of legal
geography will be in its ability to transcend the bidisciplinary focus that has char-
acterized so much of its scholarship up to this point. The following account, while
intended to provide a rich ﬂavor of the legal geography enterprise, is by no means
The First Mode of Legal Geography: Cross-Disciplinary Encounters
In the 1980s and early 1990s, scholars such as Gerald Neuman, John Calmore, and
Gerald Frug found space without having found geography, in a disciplinary sense.
For example, Neuman (1987) attended to social space in the form of territorial-
ity. This attention explicated dimensions of discrimination—and so, instances of
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 2 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 3
violations of equal protection rights—that had previously escaped notice. Like-
wise, Calmore (1995) undertook a sophisticated and sustained legal analysis of
the spatial underpinnings of anti-black racism. Finally, the work of Gerald Frug
(1996) and Richard Briffault (1990a, 1990b) on the spatial dimensions of commu-
nity, the ideologies of localism and regionalism, and the effects of the city-suburb
distinction enriched the appreciation of the placedness of law. However, these le-
gal scholars were rarely interested in a full engagement with the problematic, com-
plex, and ﬂuid nature of social space; nor were they usually interested in the range
of unconventional intellectual resources for thinking through the spatialities that
critical human geographers were developing at the same time.
One prominent exception to this generalization in sociolegal studies was
Boaventura Santos’s 1987 article “Law: A Map of Misreading—Toward a
Postmodern Conception of Law.” In the midst of the disciplinary mode of pre–
legal geography, this article portended a postdisciplinary ethos. Speciﬁcally, Santos
opened up unconventional ways of understanding spatialities in the service of ini-
tiating “a new [postmodern] legal common sense” (279). The article brought the
work of theoretical cartographers such as Marc Monmonier to bear on questions
of representation and truth in law. “There are,” Santos wrote, “many unresolved
problems in the sociological study of the law that may be solved by comparing
law with other ways of imagining the real. Maps are one such way” (286). Santos
deployed cartographic notions of scale, projection, and symbolization to look at
legal phenomena in new and startling ways. Especially prescient was his concep-
tion of interlegality, which sought to capture the ways in which “different legal
spaces [are] superimposed, interpenetrated and mixed in our minds as much as in
our actions, in occasions of qualitative leaps or sweeping crises in our life trajec-
tories as well as in the dull routine of eventless everyday life” (297). “Interlegality,”
wrote Santos, “is a highly dynamic process because the different legal spaces are
non-synchronic and thus result in uneven and unstable mixings of legal codes”
(298). This exploration exploded conventional conceptions about the “where” of
law and, in so doing, questioned the very deﬁnition of law itself.
Alongside the inquiries into space by legal scholars, the ﬁrst mode of legal ge-
ography may also be characterized by human geographers’ independent concern
with legal themes. Many of these human geographers have been informed by neo-
Marxist and, increasingly, poststructuralist epistemological commitments, and
they are therefore concerned with unraveling how space is produced rather than
merely assuming its existence. This line of scholarship has come to have a pro-
nounced effect on how legal geographers formulate questions about law. Studies
of redistricting in political geography and, more generally, studies of metropolitan
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 3 27/01/14 1:56 PM
governance are examples of geography scholarship that concerns itself with law.
Generally, however, these scholars understood law as a given and were not con-
cerned with debates about law within legal scholarship.
More notable, in hindsight, is the neglect of spatial concerns by the established
interdisciplinary ﬁeld of sociolegal studies associated with the law and society
movement, which was established in 1964 and gained momentum in the 1970s
and 1980s. This vibrant international and interdisciplinary research community
was founded on the premise that social science can contribute much to the under-
standing of law and that legal scholarship is crucial to the investigation of social
processes and outcomes. The roots of this interaction can be tied back to the legal
realist movement of the 1920s and 1930s and to the antecedent sociological ju-
risprudence of Roscoe Pound in the early twentieth century. Initially, the law and
society community included sociologists, anthropologists, historians, political sci-
entists, and even psychologists—but it did not include geographers. A local aspect
of this story is conveyed by Hari Osofsky (2007), who argues that the US percep-
tion of academic geography as an intellectual backwater that emerged in the 1950s
and 1960s has resulted in the dismantling of geography departments in many of
the most elite universities in the country. This perception, Osofsky continues, has
also precluded law scholars at Yale University, and presumably elsewhere, from
availing themselves of geography’s potentially useful resources, despite their con-
cern with space.
The Second Mode of Legal Geography: Interdisciplinary Engagements
If the initial expressions of legal geography have been characterized by relatively
narrow disciplinary concerns and a relative lack of cross-disciplinary engagement,
the second mode of legal geography has been characterized by a strong and explic-
it commitment to interdisciplinary research and programmatic bridge building.
This shift was triggered by the rise of the critical legal studies (CLS) movement in
the 1980s and 1990s. The CLS movement challenged the functionalist social sci-
entism of legal scholarship, dramatically expanded the range of resources available
for asking questions about law, and took radical positions on questions of power.
The CLS movement had a strong impact on legal geography: working within neo-
Marxist and poststructuralist literatures, legal scholars and human geographers
were suddenly reading the same theorists, asking similar questions, and taking
account of one another’s scholarship (Blomley and Bakan 1992).
The work of economic geographer Gordon Clark is central to the second mode
of legal geography. In addition to his position as a geographer, Clark was also
afﬁliated with Harvard University, when Harvard Law School was at the center
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 4 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 5
of the CLS movement. Already in the early 1980s, Clark focused on models of
local autonomy, bringing to the geography literature a novel perspective on why
attending to law and new modes of legal theory would deliver important beneﬁts
to geographers, especially to those geographers who had critical political and ethi-
cal commitments. In various articles (1982, 1984, 1986a, 1986b) and in his book
Judges and the Cities (1985), Clark demonstrated a familiarity and ﬂuency with
sophisticated legal philosophical resources. Among the more lasting contributions
of this work is its sustained and nuanced attention to problems of interpretation
and to jurisprudential strategies that wish those problems away.
During this period, critical geographer Nicholas Blomley also published
a number of agenda-setting pieces. Blomley’s 1994 book Law, Space, and
Geographies of Power is arguably the founding treatise of the second mode of legal
geography. This book was published both when the “interpretive turn” (namely,
the heightened attention to the problematics of discourse or representation) was
having an enormous impact in human geography and as CLS reached its high-
water mark in law schools. This book and Blomley’s subsequent scholarship over
the following two decades are notable for their reﬂective allegiance to distinctively
critical modes of scholarly practice, their sustained suspicion of power, and their
normative commitment to a radical vision of social justice. Much of Blomley’s
work has sought to think through the geographies of property in land through
empirically grounded studies of particular conﬂicts, such as inner-city gentriﬁ-
cation, and has attempted to reveal (and critique) the presence of distinctively
In the 1990s, American geographer Don Mitchell began a long career that
brought a strong commitment to neo-Marxist political analysis to topics as di-
verse as labor law, public space, and public housing. Much of Mitchell’s work takes
seriously the legal dimensions of struggles over public space in American cities,
particularly in relation to the plight of marginalized people, such as the homeless.
In an inﬂuential article from 1997, Mitchell traced the growing reach of local leg-
islation that targeted homeless people, arguing that its effect was to brutally “an-
nihilate space by law” (303). In that article, Mitchell argued that the spatial logics
of globalization and the desire to construct particular landscapes of accumulation
are crucial causal mechanisms in the creation of a puriﬁed public space. In subse-
quent work, Mitchell (2003) argues for a spatialized right to the city.
Another contribution from the 1990s, David Delaney’s (1998) Race, Place,
and the Law: 1836–1948 sought to bring a balance of critical legal, socio-
spatial, and historical interpretation to the understanding of anti-black racism and
racializations in the United States. Finally, Steve Herbert’s (1997) ethnographic
studies of the territorial strategies of policing and Benjamin Forest’s (2001, 2004)
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 5 27/01/14 1:56 PM
work on race and redistricting were also signiﬁcant in broadening the reach of
geographic analysis into legal questions.
Alongside the deep engagement by geography scholars with social and legal lit-
erature, legal scholars also began engaging with space. British legal scholar Davina
Cooper’s (1998) Governing out of Order: Space, Law, and the Politics of Belonging
was notable for its spatio-legal sensitivity. Cooper focused on institutional excess
and political transgression, as manifested in, and disciplined through, legal and
spatial arrangements. Trained in law and anthropology, Eve Darian-Smith’s (1999)
Bridging Divides: The Channel Tunnel and English Legal Identity in the New Europe
offered a related reading of the anxieties occasioned by the building of the Tunnel,
which was caught up in particular representations of legal geography and identity.
An emphasis on representations of place and law is evident in much of Darian-
Smith’s continued scholarship.
Still during legal geography’s bridge-building era, Richard Ford (1994, 1999)
published two signiﬁcant law review articles that pointed to the crucial organizing
work of jurisdiction in producing racialized spatial differences, work that enabled
racial segregation to persist absent overtly racist law. This racist legal geography
has escaped scrutiny, Ford argued, because of a widespread assumption that po-
litical boundaries are either neutral or prepolitical.
In 1996, a special issue of Stanford Law Review, “Surveying Law and Borders,”
provided a sustained critical engagement with space and spatiality. It featured
articles by prominent legal scholars such as Gerald Frug, Keith Aoki, Gerald
Neuman, and Rosemary Coombe. While their work was deeply situated within
legal scholarship, these authors also drew heavily on the work of critical geogra-
phers. This issue also included an afterword by the prominent critical geographer
One notable feature of the trajectory of the legal geography work produced
by scholars trained as geographers and by CLS-oriented legal scholars is that its
orientation was, from the start, explicitly and normatively critical. This designa-
tion refers not only to avowed leftist or radical political commitments but also to
a broad skepticism toward the state and the pieties of many rule-of-law claims,
as well as a broad disinterest in reformist policy discussions. The radical norma-
tive commitment of many legal geographers has become a distinctive character-
istic of this tradition in the bridge-building era. Hari Osofsky (2012) has pushed
back against the tendency to yoke the terms critical and theory together, arguing
for the value of “applied” scholarship. Similarly, British geographer Rachel Pain
(2006) argues for the merits of applied research, contesting the stereotype of the
policy researcher as an acquiescent tool of power. There are, however, undeniable
challenges in such applied work, particularly in the legal context. Some worry,
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 6 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 7
for example, that arguments for “policy-relevant” research fail to acknowledge the
ways in which ethical perspectives may become blunted or discredited (see, e.g.,
Beaumont, Loopmans, and Uitermark 2005).
Following the initial bridge-building period, the twenty-ﬁrst century saw an
escalation and stabilization of the legal geography tradition, manifested in nu-
merous collaborations. In 2001, Nicholas Blomley, David Delaney, and Richard
Ford edited The Legal Geographies Reader, and in 2002, the collection Law and
Geography, edited by Jane Holder and Carolyn Harrison, was released. This was
followed by Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Umphrey’s (2003) The
Place of Law. These collections brought together contributions by geographers,
legal scholars, and others from Europe, North America, and Israel. The volumes
signiﬁed a turn in legal geography scholarship: it had by then become a recognized
project. The increased interest in legal geography also saw the publication of a
number of journal special issues, notably Historical Geography: Geography, Law,
and Legal Geographies (2000); Political and Legal Anthropology Review: Putting
Law in Its Place in Native North America (2002); Society and Space: Displacements
(2004); Law/Text/Culture: Legal Spaces (2005); Haifa Law Review: American
Quarterly: Legal Borderlands (2006); International Journal of Legal Semiotics: The
Spaces and Places of Law (2006); Santa Clara Journal of International Law (2007);
Grifﬁth Law Review (2008); Law, Culture, and the Humanities (2010); and Hagar,
Studies in Culture, Polity and Identities: A Spatial Age: The Turn to Space in Law, the
Social Sciences and the Humanities (2010).
The impact of this now-sustained and still-expanding “spatial turn” in legal
thought has been notable also in applied legal research. In international law, for
example, scholars such as Jean Connolly Carmalt (2007), Bruce D’Arcus (2014),
Carl Landauer (2010–11), Tayyab Mahmud (2010), Zoe Pearson (2008), and Kal
Raustiala (2004–5) have shown the value of looking more closely at the spatial
presuppositions that underpin the dominant narratives of international law and
its doctrines. They have also revealed the ways in which these continue to inform
both the scholarship of international law and humanitarian policies. In the words
of Zoe Pearson (2008, 495–96), “These critiques provide us with an opportunity
to see that spaces within the terrain of international law are not static, linear and
ordered, but rather, complex, ﬂuid and uncertain, evolving continuously along
with the interactions of the different actors present, and emphasizing varying sites
of legal and non-legal regulation.” These international law scholars emphasize
that a contingent way of imagining space is foundational for international law
as a discourse and that reimagining and investigating the difference that space
makes may severely problematize the practices carried out under the auspices of
the conventionally imagined “international community.”
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 7 27/01/14 1:56 PM
Another elaboration of legal spatiality in international law is Kal Raustiala’s
(2004–5) “The Geography of Justice,” which attends to the territorial conditions
of rights and the presence or absence of their protections. This work emphasizes
the role that spatial assumptions play in rendering some forms of violence le-
gitimate while withholding that honoriﬁc from other forms. Raustiala argues that
inherited legal spatialities are superseded by the proliferation of extraterritorial
legal operations, signaling a signiﬁcant, but unheralded, respatialization of legal
power. In his words, “The evolution of American law has been a process in which
formalistic categories based on spatial location and geographic borders were re-
jected in favor of more supple, contextual concepts such as ‘effects’ and ‘minimum
The legal geography perspective has also contributed to other doctrinal investi-
gations in law. In American constitutional law, Allan Erbsen (2011), Reginald Oh
(2003–4), and Timothy Zick (2009b) have offered spatially informed rereadings of
the US Constitution, its doctrines, and its case law to disclose otherwise obscure but
highly signiﬁcant contingencies and imaginative structures that, again, have im-
portant consequences. For example, in a series of articles, Zick (2006, 2009a, 2010)
documents and critiques the ways in which political speech is increasingly circum-
scribed and suppressed through spatialized legal restrictions that go beyond tradi-
tional forms of state regulation. The danger, Zick (2006, 585) fears, is the creation
of a “perfect geometry of control over just the sort of speech the First Amendment
ought to protect.” Such spatial tactics have withstood judicial scrutiny, he argues,
because of an implicit view of space as inert and passive, as merely a background
for speech rather than, as Zick insists, itself constitutive of expression. The work
of legal scholar Lisa Pruitt also presents a sustained and subtle use of geographic
scholarship. In a series of articles such as “Gender, Geography, and Rural Justice”
(2008), “Geography of the Class Culture Wars” (2011), and “Justice Deserts: Spatial
Inequality and Local Funding of Indigent Defense” (Pruitt and Colgan 2010),
Pruitt has systematically exposed the unacknowledged “metronormative” urban
bias not only in legal and geographical scholarship but also in the actual workings
of the law in a wide range of contexts. She continues this project with her contri-
bution to the present volume. Legal scholars have also drawn on and contributed
to the legal geography project to uncover the workings of the legal with respect to
race (Boddie 2010–11; Ford 1994), settler and colonial societies (Kedar 2003), and
microspaces such as restrooms, courtrooms, and zoos (Braverman 2009a, 2012;
Kogan 2009; Mulcahy 2010). Although some of these legal scholars have become
thoroughly versed in the work of human geographers and social studies, most oth-
ers continue to explore space, place, and landscape without the full beneﬁt of the
array of resources developed by geographers and others.
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 8 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 9
Increasingly, legal geography has become inﬂuential outside of North America,
and it has been especially vibrant in Israel and Australia, where its convergence
with local conditions and scholarship has produced much powerful analysis. In
Israel, legal geography has been useful for explicating and questioning “facts on
the ground.” For example, Israeli legal scholar Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar (1998,
2001, 2003), both alone and in collaboration with Oren Yiftachel, Geremy Forman,
and others (Forman and Kedar 2003, 2004; Kedar and Yiftachel 2006; Yiftachel,
Kedar, and Amara 2012), has produced a sustained legal geographic genealogy
of land dispossession and occupation. Yiftachel (2005, 2006, 2009a, 2009b) has
published several important works making critical use of legal geography insights,
as has Forman (2006, 2009, 2011). Also, sociology scholar Ronen Shamir (1996)
has analyzed Israel’s attempts to control Bedouins and nomadic culture, and
Irus Braverman (2009b, 2013a) has explored how political wars are legitimized
through what are seen as natural materialities such as olive and pine landscapes
and zoo animals. Other Israeli scholars who have been highly committed to le-
gal geography explorations in this region include Yishai Blank and Issi Rosen-Zvi
(Blank 2005; Blank and Rosen-Zvi 2010; Rosen-Zvi 2004).
Legal geography is also becoming increasingly visible in Australia (e.g., Chris
Butler, Robyn Bartel, Kurt Iveson, Nicole Graham), where the Legal Geography
Study Group of the Institute of Australian Geographers was recently formed; in
the United Kingdom (e.g., Anne Grifﬁths, Davina Cooper, Sarah Blandy, Phil
Hubbard, Antonia Layard, Jane Holder, Sarah Whatmore, Andreas Philippopoulos-
Mihalopoulos); and Europe (e.g., Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Keebet von Benda-
Beckmann, Andrea Mubi Brighenti, Ken Olwig, Mats Widgren). Of special note is
the 2009 volume Géographie du droit: Épistémologie, développement et perspectives,
edited by Patrick Forest, which brought the work of Anglo-American, European,
and Quebecois legal geographers to a Francophone audience. While this is en-
couraging, it is nonetheless important to recognize that, unfortunately, legal geog-
raphy is still quite limited in its geographic range. As the editors of this collection,
we believe that the legal geography project would be enriched by studies situated
out of the usual ambit of the largely urban, Global Northwest. We also think that
legal geography will prove a useful tool in marginalized contexts. Looking for-
ward to what legal geography might still become, we hope that this gap will be
The Third Mode of Legal Geography: Postdisciplinary Scholarship
Beyond its signiﬁcance for disciplinary projects and for bidisciplinary interac-
tions, legal geography is also important for elucidating third-discipline interests.
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 9 27/01/14 1:56 PM
Anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists, historians, and others have all
engaged with and contributed to the legal geography project to advance their par-
ticular disciplinary concerns about interests as diverse as land tenure, democracy,
identity, labor relations, or the structuration of organizations. Indeed, the critical
investigation of social space in its relationship with law has never been the mo-
nopoly of professional geographers and legal scholars.
The “third ﬁeld” with the strongest engagement with legal geography is cul-
tural anthropology. Anthropology has long been concerned with the themes of
territory, boundaries, place, and landscape as these bear on questions of culture,
and in this sense, it is inherently geographical. Law has been present in cultural
anthropology since its founding (Benda-Beckmann and Strijbosch 1986; Darian-
Smith 2007; Donovan 2008; S. F. Moore 2005). There has, then, been a consis-
tent stream of autochthonous engagement with legal geography at the heart of
the anthropological project, although it was rarely identiﬁed as such. Interest has
increased in recent years as anthropologists have taken up topics such as global-
ization, mobility, and displacement, and as they have expanded their scrutiny to
include “insider” and “para” ethnographies of Western cultures (see Chapter 5 in
Still within the legal anthropology tradition (and increasingly encompassing
other sociolegal scholarship), a rich and vibrant literature on legal pluralism has
emerged out of a dissatisfaction with the assumption that law is inherently a proj-
ect of the state. Legal pluralism scholars have come to realize that how the spati-
ality of law operates in the West has much relevance to non-Western, nonstate,
and especially colonial contexts. Prominent scholars in this endeavor are the legal
anthropologists Franz von Benda-Beckmann and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann,
whose rich theoretical and empirical studies of non-Western spaces since the
1970s have demonstrated an acute sensitivity to the complexities of social space in
a variety of geographical and cultural contexts. The 2009 volume Spatializing Law:
An Anthropological Geography of Law in Society (coedited with Anne Grifﬁths) is
only their most recent contribution. This collection includes empirical studies
from Peru, Indonesia, Bhutan, Scotland, Sierra Leone, and other locations that
signiﬁcantly expand the horizons of legal geography scholarship.
In addition to the integration of third-ﬁeld concerns into the traditionally bi-
disciplinary focus of law and geography, the third mode of legal geography con-
sists of studies that move beyond legal geography in a way that both draws on
and contributes to broader social studies. We refer to this mode as the postdisci-
plinary scholarship within legal geography. Among the works that signal a distinc-
tively postdisciplinary orientation to legal geography thought is David Delaney’s
(2010) The Spatial, the Legal, and the Pragmatics of World-Making: Nomospheric
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 10 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 11
Investigations. This book identiﬁes impediments to advancing the legal geography
project, such as the tacit alignment of the legal with discursivity and of spatiality
with materiality, the generally disjointed or “archipelagic” nature of legal geogra-
phy, and the lack of distinctive theoretical frameworks that can be deployed across
a range of contexts. To remedy this, Delaney offers a set of neologisms, most im-
portant of which are the nomosphere, the nomic setting, and the nomoscape.
The nomosphere refers to “the cultural-material environs that are constituted
by the reciprocal materializations of ‘the legal,’ the legal signiﬁcation of the ‘socio-
spatial,’ and the practical, performative engagements through which such consti-
tutive moments happen and unfold” (Delaney 2010, 25). Delaney assumes that the
discursive, the material, the embodied-performative, and the temporal aspects of
our objects of attention—say, “law” and “space”—do not exist autonomously in
separate realms or dimensions but are always already fused. Delaney deﬁnes nomic
settings accordingly as such “determinable segments of the material world that are
socially fabricated by way of inscription or assignment of traces of legal meanings.
They are invested with signiﬁcance and they, in turn, signify. They confer signiﬁ-
cance onto actions, events, relationships, and situations. They are lived” (59).
At the same time, Delaney clariﬁes that nomic settings (e.g., homes, public
spaces, borders, prisons, workplaces) are not isolated from one another. Rather,
they are constellated into ensembles or assemblages that form wider, recognizable
worlds. “These nomic worlds,” according to Delaney, “are the contingent products
of pervasive cultural processes and forces associated with ideological projects”
(100). He refers to such ensembles as nomoscapes. One may discern numerous no-
moscapes that are mutually entangled with one another, such as (neo)liberal no-
moscapes and nomoscapes of race, gender, labor, death, justice, and so forth. The
utility of this novel framework is demonstrated with illustrations from a wide va-
riety of historical, cultural, political, and experiential contexts that draw as deeply
from history, sociology, anthropology, political theory, and cultural studies as they
do from the disciplines of law and geography, narrowly construed.
The work of Irus Braverman is also exemplary of this third mode of legal ge-
ography. Grounded in both contemporary social and cultural theory and in legal
geography studies, Braverman’s mostly ethnographic work seeks to illuminate the
signiﬁcance of spatio-legal operations for understanding dimensions of the social
life of power more generally, and with relation to nature and nonhumans in par-
ticular. From initial investigations of the spatio-legalities of trees and checkpoints
in Israel/Palestine (2009b, 2011a), Braverman has extended the reach of legal ge-
ography to the sanitary and mundane surveillance in restrooms (2009a), visuality
and technology (2011b, 2013b), and animality and zoos (2012, 2013a). Arguing
for the expansion of legal geography to nonhuman legalities, Braverman poses
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 11 27/01/14 1:56 PM
the following questions. First, she asks, what happens when nonhuman animals
are forced to ﬁt into humanistic regulatory frameworks (e.g., that of legal rights)
that seek to deﬁne them as liberal subjects? Second, what might a “posthuman-
ist” framework, which does not attempt to make liberal subjects of nonhuman
animals, look like? And ﬁnally, what does it mean to “care better” for the animal—
and how might this form of care translate into law? “It is time to think about the
possibility of more-than-human legalities,” stresses Braverman (forthcoming).
Additionally, a number of legal scholars—for example, Russell Hogg (2002),
Desmond Manderson (2005), and Richard Mohr (2003)—have directed legal
readership toward the rich conceptualizations of the difference that space and hu-
man geography can make to critical legal analyses. Space ﬁgures here less in terms
of traditional conceptions of place, landscape, and scale, for example, than as a
way of approaching alterity, diversity, and multiplicity. Some sense of the orienta-
tion of this work can be glimpsed in Stramignoni’s (2004, 181) claim that “if it will
hardly be doubted that law is (seen to be) everywhere in space . . . it is also clearly
the case that conversely, ‘space’ is each time everywhere in law. . . . But exactly how
and where is the space that is everywhere in law? And how might the container,
so to speak, be contained by its contents?” Less interested in responding to disci-
plinary questions from law and geography, these scholars are offering innovative
understandings of space in relation to law.
More recent philosophically inflected work by Andreas Philippopoulos-
Mihalopoulos (2011) and Andrea Mubi Brighenti (2010) has also taken the spatial
dimension of the legal to novel places. For example, in his conceptualization of a
genuine “spatial justice”—and in contrast with conventional aspatial notions of
spatial justice—Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (2010, 207) enlists the Deleuzian
idea of folds to identify “manifold space [that] keeps on spreading by folding itself
like a boundless origami. In its gurgling, it makes any multitude explode, splayed
out. In that sense, space is not different to body, thought, individual, collectivity,
animal; human; it is instead the curling surrounding that is folded within, ingest-
ing the outside inside and simultaneously unfolding what is inside on a plane.”
Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos also claims that “law is spacing itself away from
space—it turns against its own turning, brutally returning to the banality of the
locality, the incantation of the particular and the hasty concealment of a certain
fear of space and its manifold, uncontrollable, unpredictable folding” (207–8).
expanding the spaces of law
As we have shown, legal geography is a lively and creative ﬁeld. But it could be
livelier, and even more creative. Its full potential, we would argue, has yet to be
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 12 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 13
fully realized. This section offers a few ideas about how we might expand our ex-
plorations of the spaces of law. In part, some of the issues we point to are already
nascent in recent legal geography scholarship. In that sense, we see these sugges-
tions as further nudges rather than an attempt to map out an entirely new schol-
Expanding on Power and Time
It is conventional for critical legal geographers to underscore the presence of
power in law’s spaces. But legal geography scholars still need to think carefully
about the particularities of power. Power, the geographer John Allen (2003) ar-
gues, is never power in general but always power of a speciﬁc kind, expressed as
domination, authority, coercion, seduction, and—we might add—solidarity, re-
sponsibility, altruism, protection, and even care and love. While much legal ge-
ography scholarship is open to such diversity, a more explicit recognition of the
speciﬁcities of power would be useful. If we are to understand a legal world that
includes ideology, routinized practice, enrollment, myth, narrative, things, nonhu-
man animals, nature, brutality, redemption, courtroom layout, and the construc-
tion of difference, for example, we will clearly need a more ﬂexible and nuanced
analysis of power. Viewed more closely, law can entail both forms of power over
others as well as associational power: power with others. Pragmatism also invites
us to think of power less as a “power over” and more in terms of a contingent
and relational effect, experienced as the power to act (see Chapter 3). These com-
plex explorations of power are very much in line with Foucauldian conceptions
of governmentality, biopower, and pastoral power (see, e.g., Foucault 1977, 1980,
2007), which recognize the considerable diversity of forms that power takes and
the complex ways in which power “makes up” subjects, arguments that have been
taken up by a number of legal geographers (e.g., Blomley 2012; Braverman 2012;
Valverde 2011). Following Sally Engle Merry (2001) and Mariana Valverde (2010),
it is about time that legal geographers also engage more seriously with Foucault’s
(2007) insights into neoliberal apparatuses.
While we begin disaggregating law’s power and recognizing its variability, we
must also ask more carefully how the diversities of space—organized into net-
works, landscapes, places, scales, ﬂows, alterities, relations, and topologies—affect
the reach and effects of law. Although we welcome Allen’s (2003, 205) claim that
space be recognized as an integral, rather than an additional, part of any analysis
of power, we still need to ask, what difference does space (or space-time) make to
law? We need, as Allen puts it, “to be a little more curious about power’s spatial
constitution” (4). Even twenty years in, the legal geography project could still do
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 13 27/01/14 1:56 PM
better at specifying the real difference that thinking legally about space-time, and
thinking temporally and geographically about law, makes.
Moreover, although legal geography has long recognized the dynamic nature
of legal spaces and has emphasized their enacted, sustained qualities, it is none-
theless guilty of privileging space over time. Interestingly, with a few exceptions
(Blomley 2007; Delaney 2001; Yiftachel, Kedar, and Amara 2012), deep engage-
ments with history or historiography are relatively infrequent in contemporary
legal geography. As a number of contributors to the present volume argue, greater
inquisitiveness not only about the past but also about multiple aspects of tempo-
rality, alongside a more sophisticated conception of space-time, is necessary for
the further development of legal geography.
Foregrounding the relationship between time and space, as we have tried to
do in this collection, lends all the more urgency to the need to be more careful
in our understandings of the temporality of legal spaces. Performativity theory,
particularly as developed in conversation with science studies and economic so-
ciology, might offer a productive set of tools with which to explore these notions.
Eschewing an open-ended form of social constructionism, the emphasis of the
performativity scholarship is on the iterative and citational nature of perfor-
mances, which enrolls things and bodies, subjectivity and practice, in complex
assemblages that stabilize particular social arrangements. Although legal geogra-
phies are fully a social product, they are no less real as such (Blomley 2013a). An
emphasis on performativity also highlights the crucial legal work performed by
(and with) things (Braverman 2008, 2009a, 2011a; Brown 2001; Delaney 2010).
Such things can be material objects, such as roads (Kernaghan 2012), but they
can also be nature (Blomley 2007; Braverman 2014). In so doing, we are invited
to begin to move away from legal geography’s traditional focus on humans as its
subjects of study. David Delaney’s (2003) Law and Nature helps initiate this con-
versation with a series of provocative questions: “First, what does law say about
nature? . . . Second, what does what law says about nature tell us about the le-
gal construction and ﬁgurations of the human? What are we that nature is not?
What are we that is not ‘natural’?” (5; see also Otomo and Mussawir 2013). Irus
Braverman takes on some of these questions in her studies of treescaping practices
as “lawfare” (2009b) and of contemporary zoos as metropolitan sites for the hu-
man production of animality (2012, 2013a, 2014). Legal geography would beneﬁt
from deepening its connections with scholarship on posthumanism (e.g., Wolfe
2013) and animal geographies (e.g., Buller forthcoming), and from explorations
of the vibrancy of matter (Bennett 2010), as well as its science and entangle-
ments (Barad 2007). Such explorations will ground legal geography in corporal
matters, moving it away from abstract and anthropocentric notions of space into
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 14 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 15
posthuman, or “more-than-human” ( Whatmore 2006) legal geographies (Braverman
Expanding on Law and Space
Beyond the reevaluation of power and time in our scholarship, it might be helpful
to draw from nascent theoretical resources, many of which were unavailable or
disregarded in the previous explorations of legal geography. Although legal ge-
ographers are already actively engaged with postcolonial theory, science studies,
poststructuralism, thing theory, performativity, and many other ﬁelds, we should
be engaging with still-more ﬁelds, such as the humanities and posthumanities,
physical geography, economics, psychology and psychoanalysis, material culture,
architecture, organizational studies, and visual culture. Furthermore, the raw ma-
terials with which we work—the core categories and deﬁnitions of law and space
and their material becomings—require even more careful attention than we have
previously afforded them.
Most signiﬁcantly, perhaps, is how we think about the term law. In the 1990s,
critical legal geographers came to understand law as a cultural artifact, one that
should be thought of with reference to meaning and its contestation; law was per-
ceived as social, both in its effects and in its constitution. Many legal geographers
thus concerned themselves with the constitutive effects of law and its effects upon
consciousness. In line with other sociolegal scholarship, and CLS in particular,
legal geographers, too, wrenched law from Law—namely, they treated law as a so-
cial and cultural manifestation. The law they were concerned with and which they
critiqued was, essentially, Anglo-American common law. To socialize this law, they
excavated its profound connections to Western liberalism.
However, in at least three senses, this rethinking of law by the earlier modes of
legal geography scholarship was partial and limited. First, the drive to socialize
law may have come at some cost. The danger of thinking of law as a manifesta-
tion of the broader social context is that one loses sight of the particular ways in
which legal actors (however deﬁned) think and act. Law is obviously social and
political; but it is not society and politics. Several scholars have foregrounded the
forms of knowledge speciﬁc to law. For Annelise Riles (2011, 89), “legal knowl-
edge is not a ﬂourish or a detour; it is a very serious thing. The legal techniques
at work in doing state work are real. They are consequential. And thinking of
the state as the practice and effects of knowledge work does not trivialize it, but
specify it.” Mariana Valverde (2011) has directed considerable energy toward un-
covering such legal knowledges through paying careful attention to the particular
work they perform. Urban law, she notes, has a speciﬁc form, governing through
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 15 27/01/14 1:56 PM
framings such as police and related practices such as licensing and land use.
Nicholas Blomley (2011) has also explored what critical scholars call public space,
arguing that such humanist accounts overlook a deeply ingrained set of legal and
bureaucratic knowledges and practices that operate, in many senses, in an entirely
The earlier socialization of law was also partial in a second sense: it narrowly
focused on a critique of Western law, on what certain postcolonial scholars would
refer to as “provincialized” Western law. Rather than representing a universal law,
laws are now understood as plural products of particular local cultural forma-
tions. The common law, the mainstay of legal geography research, is therefore only
one of many legalities, including forms of indigenous law apparently subsumed by
settler law, that nevertheless retain a remarkable vital spatiality (Borrows 2010a,
2010b; Robertson forthcoming).
Third and ﬁnally, earlier modes of legal geography scholarship have conﬁned
themselves to the investigation of speciﬁc jurisdictions, mostly within the conﬁnes
of the nation-state or, on occasion, at the level of international law. So far, how-
ever, hardly any legal geographical comparative work has been published. While
mainstream contemporary comparative law is conspicuously nongeographic
and does not sufﬁciently engage with local socio-spatial conditions, some of its
main scholarly projects have to do with the classiﬁcation and mapping of legal
systems across the globe and the tracing of the movement and transplantation
of law across jurisdictions—issues that could become the subject of legal geogra-
phy investigations. Indeed, new voices among comparative law scholars signal the
readiness for a dialogue between these ﬁelds (see, e.g., Legrand and Munday 2003;
Twining 2009; Chapter 4 in this volume).
Alongside the shifting understanding of law, the other important category at
play in legal geography scholarship—space—has also begun to mean something
other than it did two decades ago. Judging by some of the earlier scholarship (e.g.,
Blomley and Clark 1990), space was frequently understood with reference to a
pervasive focus on interpretation and the complications of emplaced meaning.
As such, one tendency was to note a tension between law’s claim to universality
and determinacy and the evident spatial diversity of legal meanings, as constituted
in the localized places of social life. Similarly, legal geographer Wes Pue (1990,
572, 577–79) perceived law as necessarily “anti-geography,” arguing that “any geo-
graphical approach to law is fundamentally insurrectionist,” since geography is the
antithesis of abstraction. Evident here is a tendency to imagine space as a material
surface upon which phenomena such as law are distributed. Despite numerous
attempts to reveal space as socially produced (and, in turn, as socially constitu-
tive), there is a tendency to think of space in quite limited ways: space is imagined
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 16 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 17
as distinct and as an object in and of itself, over and above the material objects
that are distributed “in” space. It is thus very tempting to think topographically,
imagining territories, scales, and spaces as having an object-quality to them and
as more or less anchored in the world. The task was framed as one of inserting law
onto these material surfaces.
An alternative view of space, and one that has played a powerful role in reshap-
ing much geographic scholarship, invites us to think of space in relational terms
(Murdoch 2006). Relational thinking eschews essentialism by insisting that all so-
cial entities are to be understood and explained according to their interactions,
avoiding a view of internally stable concepts and entities. On this view, “relations
are dynamic, unfolding processes, rather than static ties between inert substances”
(Sunley 2008, 5). Space, in this view, cannot be an object in itself; rather, “objects
are space, space is objects, and moreover objects can be understood only in rela-
tion to other objects, with all this being a perpetual becoming of heterogeneous
networks and events that connect internal spatiotemporal relations” (Jones 2009,
491). Spaces such as cities or regions are not territorial units but dynamic com-
positions. Seen in this way, “cities and regions come with no promise of territorial
or systemic integrity, since they are made through the spatiality of ﬂow, juxtaposi-
tion, porosity and relational connectivity” (Amin 2002, 34).
Such an invitation to think of space relationally may be a promising one for le-
gal geography. For example, to the extent that it counters the view of space or law
as objects in themselves, it provides a useful place from which to try and think re-
lationally and “nomospherically” about legal spaces. Such a shift would allow us to
begin to transform our analysis from legal consequential spaces such as the state
border, to more creative explorations of the process of bordering, where borders
are understood not as inert, ﬁxed sites, but as ﬂuid, nonlinear, and experiential
practices produced through law. Undocumented workers in the United States, for
example, may experience the border deep inside state territory (Coleman 2009).
Moreover, considering space from a relational perspective could offer analyti-
cal tools by which we can think against some of the powerful topographic ar-
chitectures of law, such as jurisdiction. Cultural anthropologists James Ferguson
and Akhil Gupta (2005) point to two related metaphors at work in our concep-
tions of the state (and, even more so, perhaps, of law): “verticality” entails a view
of the state as an institution above civil society; “encompassment” conceives the
state as located within an ever-widening set of circles that begins with family and
ends with the system of states. “This is a profoundly consequential understand-
ing of scale,” they argue, “one in which the locality is encompassed by the region,
the region by the nation-state, and the nation-state by the international commu-
nity” (Ferguson and Gupta 2005, 106). The two metaphors, they conclude, “work
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 17 27/01/14 1:56 PM
together to produce a taken-for-granted spatial and scalar image of a state that
both sits above and contains its localities, regions and communities” (106). At
work here is an areal view of space as a series of categorical and nested containers.
It is hard to escape such scalar framings. American geographer Adam Moore
(2008, 208–9) notes, along these lines, that even scholars who emphasize the so-
cially constructed character of scale still implicitly adhere to a view of scales as
“actually existing entities that constitute the spatial context within and among
which social action takes place.” Others have argued against such a scalar framing,
even going so far as to argue that we must abandon scale entirely in pursuit of “ﬂat
ontologies” (Marston, Jones, and Woodward 2005). Yet while there may be mer-
its to such abandonment, there are also dangers. We may question a modernist,
nonrelational view of space, but it continues to operate with powerful performa-
tive force, organizing legal geographies in the world. Such a scalar logic, Nicholas
Blomley (2013b) notes, has striking ethical and analytical effects on the ways in
which we think about categories such as jurisdiction. Mariana Valverde (2009,
141) states similarly that jurisdiction operates such that “legal powers and legal
knowledges appear to us as always already distinguished by scale.” More generally,
borrowing from scholarship on the “state-effect” (Mitchell 1991), scalar framings
work to produce the effect of law as a disembedded presence that circulates at
the level of the nation-state. Rather than treating space as a thing in the world,
then, our task would be to trace the ways in which scale solidiﬁes and is made
real, thereby making sense of the work that such solidiﬁcations do (Moore 2008).
Law’s territories will then begin to appear less as objects in the world than as com-
plicated effects (Painter 2010). Such alternatives, in combination with attempts
to rethink law, power, and time, offer exciting tools for enriching and perhaps
remaking legal geography.
Chapter 1, “Places That Come and Go: A Legal Anthropological Perspective on the
Temporalities of Space in Plural Legal Orders”—by Franz von Benda-Beckmann
and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann, sets the investigatory tone of this collection
and expresses our interest in exploring space in time. The authors contend that
the anthropology of law—and legal pluralism in particular—is gravely absent
from the conceptual framework of critical legal geography. They argue that at-
tentiveness to plural legal constellations, especially to nonstate legal formations
and to contradictory and coexisting notions of space, will force legal geographers
to adopt a more nuanced perspective on the law-space-power nexus. The authors
call attention to the temporality of legal space and place making, arguing that
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 18 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 19
legal spaces and places “come and go,” fade in and out, but do so at different paces,
depending, among other things, on the particular legal system that constitutes
the space. In addition, the authors point to the paradoxical results of the intensi-
ﬁcation and complexity of modern regulation: attempts to create consistent and
enduring spatio-legal regimes necessitate frequent alterations, in turn generating
unintended ambiguous and temporary legal spaces. This chapter also introduces
the theme of comparative law, which is echoed throughout the collection. The au-
thors set the stage for understanding comparative law not so much in its doctrinal
meaning but rather in the different ways that the law-space nexus manifests in
various cultures and temporalities.
In Chapter 2, “‘Time Thickens, Takes on Flesh’: Spatiotemporal Dynamics in
Law,” Mariana Valverde continues the exploration of the complex entanglements
of space, time, and law. The chapter begins by arguing that the success of the law
and geography literature has produced the unintended effect of reviving an old
metaphysical fallacy, namely, treating space and time as abstract and separate enti-
ties. According to Valverde, Kant’s critique of the objectivist metaphysics of space
and time can therefore be usefully revived today as an antidote for the tendency
to objectify and isolate space that is inherent—though not inevitably so—in law
and geography as a ﬁeld of inquiry. Legal geography’s ﬁrst theoretical risk, in other
words, is the unwitting reiﬁcation of space and the black boxing of the very pro-
cesses that radical studies open up and problematize. A second and closely related
problem for legal geography, according to Valverde, is its analytic marginaliza-
tion of temporality. Although many law and space studies pay attention to history,
Valverde argues that the historicizing of legal spaces that is often included in legal
geographical studies (and in critical legal studies generally) captures only one as-
pect of temporality’s many ﬂows and dynamics. By way of experimenting with
ways to think about spatiotemporalization processes in a pluralistic and dynamic
manner, the chapter concludes with a reﬂection on the possible adaptation, for
legal analysis purposes, of Mikhail Bakhtin’s oft-mentioned but rarely used notion
Chapter 3, “Learning from Larry: Pragmatism and the Habits of Legal Space,”
by Nicholas Blomley, draws from another conceptual tradition: American prag-
matism. In particular, this chapter sketches the work of John Dewey in an at-
tempt to think more carefully about the ways in which people take up and practice
every day legal geographies, such as those materialized at a property boundary.
The chapter contemplates Dewey’s analysis of habit, suggesting that the concept
may be useful for legal geographers—especially because of its refusal of dualistic
thinking, its emphasis on transaction and event, and its resistance to the idea of
“law” and “space” as independent categories, as well as the degrees to which these
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 19 27/01/14 1:56 PM
are “taken up” by actors. An emphasis on habit, conversely, points us to practices
and actions, thus opening the door to more processual and temporal legal geog-
raphies. Blomley suggests that while one can thus begin to imagine legal-spatial
habits of territory, jurisdiction, and property, pragmatism cautions against meta-
physical thinking in relation to such terms. Pragmatism problematizes the idea
that a fence, for example, is a manifestation of the larger phenomenon of property
that operates at a grander and more abstract scale. Thinking through habit ﬁnally
directs us to questions of power. Dewey’s analysis, Blomley suggests, recognizes
that habits can be a site for experimentation and change, yet also alerts us to hab-
its’ resistance to change.
In Chapter 4, “Expanding Legal Geographies: A Call for a Critical Comparative
Approach,” Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar argues for the initiation of a compara-
tive project informed by both comparative law and legal geography, integrating
them into a critical comparative legal geographical investigation. Such a criti-
cal comparative perspective, Kedar argues, is conspicuously absent from current
scholar ship. Particularly promising for legal geographers is the work of critical
and postcolonial comparatists and their concept of legal transplants in particu-
lar, which provides insights into the movement, adoption, and transformation of
legal doctrines, as well as how structures and ideas manifest over space and time.
Chapter 4 demonstrates the potential of such an approach by exploring instances
of displacement and dispossession. It presents a case study that investigates a le-
gal geographical triangle set within the British “legal family,” showing how ideas
and legal concepts embodied in British war legislation were transplanted to and
transformed in postpartition India/Pakistan as well as in Palestine/Israel in the
form of legislation that facilitated the taking of refugee property. Kedar calls for a
dialogue between critical comparatists and critical legal geographers, and suggests
initiating collaborative comparative research projects among scholars from differ-
ent disciplines and regions.
In Chapter 5, “Who’s Afraid of Methodology? Advocating a Reﬂexive Turn in
Legal Geography,” Irus Braverman suggests that alongside the push to expand
legal geography into new spaces and temporalities “out there,” legal geography
might beneﬁt from an inward expansion: a reﬂection on how we come to write
what we write rather than where, when, and why we do so. Such greater awareness
to the craftsmanship of our scholarship will pay off in a range of ways, Braverman
argues, and most important, by increasing the methodological diversity and inter-
disciplinarity of legal geography scholarship. The chapter reﬂects on the pitfalls
and virtues of the author’s zoo ethnography as a way to invite legal geographers
to become acutely attentive to how they craft their own research. Because of
the unique training of many legal geographers in the intersections of law and
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 20 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 21
geography, Braverman argues ﬁnally, this tradition is well equipped to explore the
working of particular administrative structures, a focus that deserves heightened
attention in our tradition. For this to happen, Braverman claims, we need to en-
gage in discussions about the art of craftsmanship.
Chapter 6, “States That Come and Go: Mapping the Geolegalities of the
Afghanistan Intervention,” by Michael D. Smith, moves beyond the legal geog-
raphies of the nation-state and investigates the production and use of legal vio-
lence in international, transnational, and multinational arenas. Smith explores the
relationship between the martial and the legal in the context of contemporary
Western interventionism, in particular the war in Afghanistan, as a way to open
up a number of avenues of inquiry for a renewed project of critical legal geogra-
phy. Multinational incursions reveal a complex interplay of “states that come and
go” in which law plays an important ordering role. Smith claims that we should
pay attention to the ongoing rescaling of the state, to the transformations of state
sovereignty, and to the hybrid—and often violent—legal geographies associated
with political and economic globalization. The chapter introduces two concepts.
First, geolegality, reorients critical legal geography toward the international and
toward the role of the spatio-legal in geopolitics and geoeconomics. Then, martial
law extends previous work on the relations between law and violence and offers
a new terminology for addressing the theoretical and empirical aspects of late-
modern war’s geolegalities. Smith suggests that the spatiotemporalities of law are
essential to grasping the hybrid political and economic formations associated with
Western interventionism: the fusing of military and civil functions; the recasting
of sovereignty as contingent and occupation as transformative; and the emergence
of so-called operational law, a hybrid body of law shaped by the exigencies of mili-
tary missions. Smith concludes by examining Western intervention in terms of
four different but overlapping moments—invasion, occupation, paciﬁcation, and
autonomization—allowing us to begin to discern how the spatiotemporalities of
law are crucial to the oscillating sovereignties and violent passages of “states that
come and go.”
In Chapter 7, “The Everyday Formation of the Urban Space: Law and Poverty
in Mexico City,” Antonio Azuela and Rodrigo Meneses-Reyes add voices and per-
spectives that have not been sufﬁciently represented in legal geography scholar-
ship. Attentive to the temporalities of the social, spatial, and legal phenomena,
the authors investigate the interactions between legal practices and urban for-
mation in Mexico City. The chapter analyzes how two developments in the no-
mospheric transformation of Mexico City—the creation of a workplace for the
urban poor and the regulation of land as a means for housing the poor—were
shaped and resisted in legal disputes in the wider context of the formation of the
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 21 27/01/14 1:56 PM
post-revolutionary state in Mexico City (1930–50), a transitional period in the
Mexican capital and its legal system. Azuela and Meneses-Reyes unravel the im-
portant role of the Mexican courts in providing a site in which the urban environ-
ment was imagined, contested, and reproduced. The chapter locates its ﬁndings
within the wider setting of the (trans)formation of the state, inviting law and ge-
ography scholars to investigate the processes of state formation as products of
myriad localized social, legal, and spatial interactions.
Chapter 8, “The Rural Lawscape: Space Tames Law Tames Space,” by Lisa R.
Pruitt, illuminates another hitherto-neglected zone of legal geography scholar-
ship. Pruitt argues that law and rural space are at odds with each other because
the presence of law as a force of the state is in tension with the socio-spatial con-
struction of rurality. Law seeks to tame or control rural spatiality, but the material
characteristics (e.g., low population density, dominance of nature over the built
environment) and associated social characteristics of rural and remote places ef-
fectively resist those efforts. Rural spatiality’s features tend to impede the efforts
of law’s agents and processes, thus making for a thinner, less robust legal presence.
Pruitt argues that critical and legal geographers have largely ignored the rural end
of the rural-urban continuum, reﬂecting a rarely acknowledged urban normativ-
ity (not to mention urban hubris). The chapter begins the work of recovering the
rural, bringing it into scholarly view to broaden our understanding of the diffuse
and localized operation of law in rural places. The chapter is thus a step toward
theorizing the signiﬁcance and force of rural spatiality in relation to law and legal
processes. The investigation into the rural lawscape reveals something not only
about rural difference, Pruitt argues, but also about the otherwise obscure nature
of law as variegated and variable. Finally, Pruitt contends that looking to the rural
margins reveals something about the center because the process by which law dif-
ferentiates the rural also depicts, at least implicitly, the default urban norm.
In Chapter 9, “Rules of Engagement: The Spatiality of Judicial Review,”
Melinda Harm Benson posits that litigation is itself a space that has, to date, been
underexamined by legal geographers. She highlights the privileged position of
judges as actors holding an inordinate amount of power to construct and police
the spaces they occupy. Benson argues that legal geography would greatly beneﬁt
from an investigation of what she refers to as “rules of engagement” (ROE) in liti-
gation. She conceives the operational tenets of litigation as creating a legal arena
in which various legal actors perform their roles according to highly formalized
scripts. Often described as “procedural” as opposed to “substantive” aspects of the
law, these legal requirements tend to operate under a veil of neutrality. In reality,
however, ROE, which range from jurisdictional limitations to burdens of proof,
reﬂect cultural assumptions about boundaries, privileges, power, and control.
00c_Introduction_fn.indd 22 27/01/14 1:56 PM
expanding the spaces of law 23
The chapter focuses on the norms governing the ability to challenge government
conduct in environmental litigation. In this particular ﬁeld of law, ROE include
not only statutory requirements but also constitutional and judge-made rules that
prescribe conditions and prudential limitations, such as ripeness, mootness, and
the political question doctrine. These rules determine not only when the govern-
ment can be legally challenged but also the level of scrutiny brought to bear on
state conduct. Of particular interest to Benson is the requirement that a prospec-
tive plaintiff prove that he or she has standing before bringing a citizen suit en-
forcement action against the state. The chapter charts the manners in which ROE
produce legal spaces, how they control who may access these distinctive territo-
ries, and their policing of movement within their conﬁnes. Benson concludes that
without gaining entry into legal spaces, the capacity to protect other spaces, such
as endangered species habitats and public lands, is greatly hampered.
Finally, in Chapter 10, “At Work in the Nomosphere: The Spatio-Legal
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as to better understand some of the “so what?” of legal geography. Speciﬁcally,
Delaney draws on the literature associated with law and the emotions, psycho-
analysis and law, geography of emotions, psychoanalytic geography, and critical
organization studies to formulate undeveloped lines of inquiry focused on the
spatio-legal (or nomospheric) production of social suffering. This chapter’s initial
investigation focuses on the dynamics associated with the nomic setting of “the
workplace” and the distinctive nomospheric situations that arise there. Among the
larger project’s guiding questions are the following: How does power in the work-
place operate through the governing of, with, or through emotions? What are the
distinctive spatialities that condition social relationality in ways that engender or
ameliorate the felt sense of anxiety, forms of precariousness, and modes of social
suffering? In contexts that are organized around relations of domination and sub-
mission, is it useful to posit the workings of a “legal unconscious” that fosters the
prevalence of certain psychological dynamics and so facilitates the social produc-
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