Creating Student-Centric Space for Socio-Legal Writing
The ‘Socio-Legal Review’ is an initiative of the Law and Society Committee that hopes to inspire socio-legal writing among members of the legal and social science community. It aims at exploring themes relating to the interface of law and society and providing a platform for students and young scholars. The Committee is keen to give ‘law and society’ an expansive interpretation, thereby keeping its basic criteria for contributions simply that of high academic merit, as long as there is a perceivable link.
This would include not just writing about the role played by law in social change, or the role played by social dynamics in the formulation and implementation of law, but also writing that simply takes cognizance of legal institutions/ institutions of governance/administration, power structures in social commentary and so on. Through this effort, the journal also hopes to fill the lacunae relating to academic debate on socio-legal matters among law students.
This year’s Editorial Board has decided to continue with the policy of not imposing a theme. A contribution is eligible as long as fits in with the general mandate of the journal. The manuscript should be on any theme exploring the interface between law and the society. Each volume of the Socio-Legal Review consists of Articles, Comments and Laws’ Translations. Law’s Translations consists of shorter pieces designed to provide a glimpse into a new legal strategy, political initiative or advocacy technique applied in the field, a current problem or obstacle faced in legal reform or development work, or a new issue that has not yet received much attention and needs to be brought to light. This section is designed for the student researchers, legal practitioners, field staffers, and activists who often have the most significant insights to contribute, but the least time to write longer, scholarly articles.
The first issue of the ‘Socio-Legal Review’, published in 2005, carried the theme ‘Law and Marginalisation’. The first issue included contributions from Shail Mayaram (Senior Fellow, Centre for Study of Developing Societies, Delhi), Sivamohan Sumathy (University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka), apart from contributions from within the National Law School. Themes ranged from ‘Poverty, Migration and Memory in the Mega-City’, ‘Migration and ‘Displacement of Sri Lankan Tamil Women’, ‘Globalisation and the City-zen’ to ‘Reservation Policy of India and Rawls’ Theory of Justice’ and ‘Contours of the Dalit Movement’.
The second volume, published in 2006, has articles by W. T. Murphy (London School of Economics) and Rajeev Dhavan (Advocate, Supreme Court). As a theme was not imposed on contribution, writing ranged from subjects as varied as the pharmaceutical industry and patents to the impact of genetics on theories of crime and punishment. The third volume of the journal, released in August 2007, includes contributions by Dr. Fiona Kumari Campbell (Griffith University) and Dr. Narnia Bohler-Muller (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth), besides contributions from law students. The fourth volume released in August 2008 contains contributions by Roger Cotterell and Ofer Raban as well as student articles. This volume introduces a new section titled ‘Conversations’ in which Roger Cotterrell and Ofer Raban respond to Brian Tamanaha’s thesis on the instrumentality of law. Prof. Ron Harris contributes with a piece on political parties in Israel. We are happy that we have been able to attract student writing on South Asia as this volume has articles by students at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School and the National Law School of India University.
In May 2008, the Socio-Legal Review, in conjunction with the Law and Society Committee at the National Law School, conducted a workshop on ‘Encouraging Socio-Legal Writing on University Campuses’. Attended by members of our Advisory Board such as Upendra Baxi and Nivedita Menon and young academics and students, the enthusiastic discussion at the workshop bodes well for the future of socio-legal writing in the region.
Since 2007, Socio-Legal Review has been fortunate to have been funded through a generous three year grant from the Modern Law Review. This year, based on an assessment of the journal, the editorial board of Modern Law Review has renewed the funding for the next three years. This grant has been instrumental is providing us financial security and permitting us to concentrate our efforts on improving the journal and indeed, working on our mandate of creating a student-centric space for socio-legal writing in South Asia.
for the Editorial Board, Socio-Legal Review