AAG 2018 CFP: (Re)examining Law and Changing Environmental Understandings and Realities

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AAG 2018 CFP: (Re)examining Law and Changing Environmental Understandings and Realities

Shake, Kristen

CALL FOR PAPERS: 2018 American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting

April 10-14, 2018

New Orleans, LA


(Re)examining Law and Changing Environmental Understandings and Realities


Session organizers: Alida Cantor, Portland State University ([hidden email]) and Kristen Shake, Clark University ([hidden email])


Recent work in the growing field of law and geography has sought to (re)engage with the myriad of dynamic connections that persist between legal studies and the environments around and within human society (Braverman et a.l 2014). A recurring theme in this research is that while environmental changes are clearly dynamic, “The Law” is often perceived as static, immovable, or binary. However, legal geographers and other scholars that engage with the dynamic field of law recognize that relationships between environment and law are not so straightforward (see, for example, Delaney 2001). As recent scholarship shows, legal processes are also dynamic, multifaceted systems that influence-- and are influenced by-- the environments from which they emerge (Shake et al. 2017; Cantor 2016). As (socio)environmental systems change-- and as our understandings of such systems develop-- questions arise around how legal systems and governance adapt (or should adapt). This session fits under a broader umbrella of scholarship seeking to understand societal engagement with and understandings of relationships between environment, nature, and governance practices.


This session invites submissions that engage with law and changing environmental understandings and realities. We seek to explore how legal systems and assemblages cope with and recognize either updated understandings of the environment, or new environmental realities that they are faced with.


This session is organized around a few main motivating questions:


  • First, as new or updated understandings (scientific and/or theoretical) of environmental processes develop, how do (or should) legal institutions, structures, processes, and assemblages respond or adapt?
  • Second, how do (or how should) legal institutions, structures, processes, and assemblages recognize and respond to changing environmental conditions (such as climate change)?
  • Third, what conceptual or legal/regulatory gaps persist between changing, fluid, materially shifting environments and the rules, regulations or laws that (seem to) govern them?


In this session, we are interested in hearing from those who may or may not identify as ‘legal geographers’ per se. We invite scholars broadly engaging in questions around law, policy, regulation, processes of “law in action,” and rule systems more generally.  We are focused on environmental law, but take a broad interpretation of what this topic includes: we encourage participation from scholars that engage with a variety of natures/environments, may they be terrestrial, marine, bodily, or beyond. We welcome diverse theoretical approaches to understanding relationships between environment, science, and law/policy, including (for example) feminist theory, science and technology studies/science and society, decolonial theory, political ecology, critical studies, ocean-space studies and legal geographies.


If you are interested in participating in the session, please send a title and 250-word abstract to Alida Cantor ([hidden email]) and Kristen Shake ([hidden email]) by October 20. Session participants will need to submit an abstract and register for the conference by October 25.



Braverman, I., Blomley, N., Delaney, D., & Kedar, A. (Eds.). (2014). The expanding spaces of law: A timely legal geography. Stanford University Press.

Cantor, A. (2016). The public trust doctrine and critical legal geographies of water in California. Geoforum, 72, 49-57.

Delaney, D. (2001). Making nature/marking humans: law as a site of (cultural) production. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 91(3), 487-503.

Shake, K. L., Frey, K. E., Martin, D. G., & Steinberg, P. E. (2017). (Un) frozen Spaces: Exploring the Role of Sea Ice in the Marine Socio-legal Spaces of the Bering and Beaufort Seas. Journal of Borderlands Studies, 1-15.


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