"Law and Democracy"

deadline for submissions: 
January 16, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Brown Legal Studies

Call for Papers

Second Annual Legal Studies Graduate Student Conference


“Law and Democracy”


Saturday and Sunday, April 22nd - 23rd, 2017

at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island


Deadline for submission: January 16th, 2017

Acceptance notification: Early February

Law and democracy are typically seen as interdependent: laws protect the fundamental rights that make democracy possible, while democracy ensures the legitimacy of law-making bodies. However,  the two principles conflict just as often as they complement one another. Where democracy calls for radical change at times, the law looks to precedent and tradition. Where democracy privileges majority opinion, constitutional law often prioritizes minority rights. Where democracy depends on vocal dissent, and even civil disobedience, courts and law enforcement officials typically aim to contain civic unrest. Law and democracy are central pillars of the modern nation-state, but the conflicts between them – at polling stations or protests, in courts or legislative chambers – betray fundamental tensions in political and social life.

The Brown Legal Studies initiative invites paper submissions on the subject of “Law and Democracy” for its second annual graduate student conference. At a moment when important political and legal institutions in the United States are challenged from within and without, our conference will consider the interaction of law and democracy, both in our own time and in broader historical or comparatist contexts. We hope to foster interdisciplinary conversation and so encourage papers from any discipline, including (but not limited to): Jurisprudence, History, Ethnic Studies, Philosophy, Anthropology, Literature, Classics, Political Science, and Sociology. We welcome abstracts addressing any geographical area or historical period. Possible topics of discussion may include:


  • consent, political legitimacy

  • human rights, civil liberties

  • protest, civil disobedience

  • white supremacy, racisms

  • class, nepotism

  • voting, disenfranchisement

  • war, imperialism, neo-imperialism

  • expertise, bureaucracy, technocracy

  • mediating institutions such as legislatures, town halls, electoral college, party system

  • environment, natural resources, stewardship

  • corporations, lobbying, anonymity

  • litigation, judicial discretion

  • corruption, ethics, accountability

  • public reason, debate, truth, epistocracy

  • education, civic knowledge, literacy

  • consumerism, boycotts, divestment

  • religion, pluralism


Please submit a 250-500 word abstract, along with a copy of your C.V, by Monday January 16th, 2017. Submissions should be sent to brownlegalstudies@gmail.com. If you have questions, please contact Jonathan Lande (jonathan_lande@brown.edu), Katie Fitzpatrick (kathleen_fitzpatrick@brown.edu), or Sara Ludin (saraludin@berkeley.edu).

More information is also available at www.brownlegalstudies.org.