Samuli Haataja (Griffith), ‘Cyber operations and autonomous cyber capabilities under international law in peacetime’ (16 May 2023)

Tuesday, 16 May 2023, from 2pm to 4pm, Porthania P545 (Faculty room).

In this seminar, Dr Samuli Haataja (Griffith) discusses how international law applies to the use of autonomous cyber capabilities in peacetime. Dr Haataja’s presentation is followed by comments prepared by Professor Kimmo Halunen (Oulu/National Defence University), a leading expert on cybersecurity. We are hoping that this debate also marks the beginning of new opportunities for collaboration between our universities.

The event is open to all interested.


The presentation first considers international law on the use of force, intervention, and sovereignty to assess when the use of these capabilities in offensive cyber operations violates international law. It then considers how international law on self-defence, countermeasures, and necessity apply to use of autonomous ‘hack backs’ by states in response to malicious cyber operations. The presentation concludes that the complexity of autonomous cyber capabilities can increase the risk of violations of international law, and that the development of autonomous hack backs is particularly problematic due to the increased risk of escalation of conflict. For these reasons it remains imperative for states to continue developing detailed accounts of how they consider international law to apply in the cyber context, including where autonomous cyber capabilities are used.

Provisional programme
  • 2:15pm Seminar opening
    Professor Panu Minkkinen (Helsinki)
  • 2:25pm Cyber operations and autonomous cyber capabilities
    Dr Samuli Haataja (Griffith)
  • 3.15pm Comments
    Professor Kimmo Halunen (Oulu/National Defence University)
  • 3:30pm Q&A/discussion
  • 3:45pm End of seminar
About the speakers

Samuli Haataja
Dr Samuli Haataja is Senior Lecturer at Griffith Law School, Griffith University, Australia. His research explores international law and cybersecurity with a focus on state-sponsored cyber operations under public international law. In addition to the book Cyber Attacks and International Law on the Use of Force: The Turn to Information Ethics (Routledge, 2019), he has published in various international law and technology journals.
Kimmo Halunen
Dr Kimmo Halunen is Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Oulu and National Defence University in Finland. He has obtained his D. Sc. (Tech.) in computer engineering on hash function security in 2012 and has over 40 publications related to security, cryptography and blockchain technology in refereed conferences and journals. During his career he has coordinated a national project in post-quantum cryptography and lead national and international projects related to cybersecurity and cryptography (e.g. measuring the security of cryptographic primitives in the Finnish Defence Forces research program). He has also written expert reports for the Finnish government, given expert opinion for the Finnish Parliament and been interviewed for national media several times on the topics of cybersecurity and cryptography. Before starting as a professor, he worked at VTT for 8 years in different roles in research and management in the cybersecurity area. During 2014-2015 he visited the COSIC group in KU Leuven in Belgium for 9 months.

In Conversation with Renata Salecl: A Two-Part Event (12 & 15 May 2023)

Friday, 12 May 2023, and Monday, 15 May 2023, from 2pm to 6pm, in Porthania P545 (Faculty room).

Renata Salecl

After a few years of lockdowns and online events, the Helsinki Socio-Legal Initiative returns with a two-part annual main event welcoming you to seminars at which Renata Salecl (Ljubljana/Birkbeck), internationally renowned Slovenian philosopher and sociologist, presents in person aspects of her ongoing work. Both presentations are followed by q&a sessions as well as opportunities for postgraduate researchers to discuss and receive feedback on their own socio-legally relevant thesis projects.

Seminar 1 (Friday, 12 May 2023)

The Right to Apathy?: Ignorance and Emotional Disengagement in Neoliberal Times

The session begins with a presentation of Renata Salecl’s new project, ‘The Right to Apathy’, which includes a discussion of the controversial 1950s idea that democracy requires tolerance towards people’s unwillingness to participate in politics. This idea will be analysed in the context of the emotional attitudes that people today have regarding the political situation.

The lecture will address apathy related to the current war in Ukraine, the apathy that has been on the rise in Russia in the last two decades since the country turned to authoritarianism, and the types of indifference that neoliberalism is thriving on. Burnout and other psychological symptoms that are on the rise in the developed world will also be discussed.

Renata Salecl will also address some of the issues raised in the updated version of her last book, A Passion for Ignorance: What We Do Not Want to Know and Why (Princeton UP, 2022). Participants will be encouraged to discuss how law reacts to old and new traumatic knowledge that people often hope to ignore.

Seminar 2 (Monday, 15 May 2023)

Art and Human Rights in the Air

Renata Salecl is part of the ‘Airspace Tribunal’ initiative (together with British professors Shona Illingworth, Nick Grief and Andrew Hoskins), proposing to the UN a new human right to protect people from the psychological and physical damage related to the threats from the air. The initiative combines law with artistic practices since it wants to show how visualisation is an essential element in presenting the dangers coming from the air related to military attacks, surveillance and climate change.

The main point of the presentation is to show that art plays more than just the role of illustrating threats from the air. There is no denying that art can, through compelling images or videos, present people with the dangers of excessive surveillance, attacks, and climate change, all threatening their physical and mental well-being. Art also helps people deal with the trauma they experience from air threats. However, the presentation will show that, in an opaque way, the power mechanisms that promote increased surveillance and aerial attacks use their art practices. One version of art is thus opposed to another version of the art regarding the increased air threat. This is why the art we practice in galleries and museums must remember the political dimensions of its use.

PGR credits

The event is open to all interested, but for catering reasons, you are invited to register.

The event is also part of the OTT-917 Postgraduate Research Seminar in General Jurisprudential Studies series. Attending both seminars will count as four sessions in your study requirements. You may also use this opportunity to present your own work or act as commentator (‘opponent’) for a peer. In these latter cases, kindly contact the convenor for further information.

Provisional programme

Friday, 12 May 2023

  • 2.15pm Opening words, Professor Panu Minkkinen (Helsinki)
  • 2.30pm ‘The Right to Apathy’
    Professor Renata Salecl (Ljubljana/Birkbeck)
  • 3.15pm Q&A
  • 3.45pm Coffee break
  • 4.00pm General discussion, presentations by postgraduate researchers
  • 5.30pm End of seminar

Monday, 15 May 2023

  • 2.15pm Opening words, Professor Panu Minkkinen (Helsinki)
  • 2.30pm ‘Art and Human Rights in the Air’
    Professor Renata Salecl (Ljubljana/Birkbeck)
  • 3.15pm Q&A
  • 3.45pm Coffee break
  • 4.00pm General discussion, presentations by postgraduate researchers
  • 5.30pm End of seminar

Book launch: ‘Properties of Law’ (10 November 2021)

Wednesday, 10 November 2021, from 2pm to 4pm EET (UTC+2), Zoom.

Welcome to the launch seminar, co-organised together with the Finnish Association for the Philosophy of Law (SOFY), dedicated to Professor Emeritus Kaarlo Tuori’s newest book Properties of Law. Modern Law and After (CUP 2021). The book is a legal-theoretical analysis about modern state law; about sociality, normativity and plurality as its properties, and what will come after modern state law. The main objective of the study is to offer a legal theoretical recapitulation of modern state law that avoids the fallacies of legal positivism. This calls for a relationist approach where law’s sociality is related to normativity, and normativity to sociality. Avoiding legal positivism’s fallacies also includes refraining from extrapolating from modern state law to law in general; replacing legal positivism’s conceptual universalism with sensitivity to the varieties of law, and acknowledging that law existed before modern state law, that it will exist after modern state law, and that other law exists alongside modern state law. The book concludes with a discussion of the impact of digitalization on law.

About the author
Kaarlo Tuori. Photo: Mika Ranta/Helsingin Sanomat

Kaarlo Tuori is Professor Emeritus of Jurisprudence at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He has led a Centre of Excellence in European Law and Polity, funded by Academy of Finland, 2008–2013, and has served as a counsellor to the Constitutional Law Committee of Parliament and as a Member of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe (1998–). His monographs published in English include Critical Legal Positivism (Routledge 2002), Ratio and Voluntas: The Tension Between Reason and Will in Law (Routledge 2010) and European Constitutionalism (CUP 2015).

Provisional programme

In addition to a short introduction of the book by its author, the seminar includes prepared comments from Professors Hans Lindahl (Tilburg), Inger-Johanne Sand (Oslo) and Neil Walker (Edinburgh). The times are approximate.

  • 2:00pm EET Seminar opening
    Panu Minkkinen (Helsinki)
  • 2:05pm EET Short introduction to the book
    Kaarlo Tuori (Helsinki)
  • 2:15pm EET Prepared comments
    Hans Lindahl (Tilburg)
    Inger-Johanne Sand (Oslo)
    Neil Walker (Edinburgh)
  • 3:15pm EET The author replies
    Kaarlo Tuori (Helsinki)
  • 3:30pm EET Q&A and discussion
  • 4:00pm EET End of seminar

The event is open to all interested, but registration is required. Kindly register by filling in this form by Monday, 8 November 2021. You will receive the Zoom link by email after all registrations have been successfully recorded. All registration data will be deleted after the event.

About the discussants
Hans Lindahl

Hans Lindahl is Professor of Legal Philosophy at Tilburg University (the Netherlands), and Professor of Global Law at Queen Mary University of London. He obtained law and philosophy degrees at the Universidad Javeriana (Colombia) before completing his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Louvain (Belgium). Lindahl has published widely but is, perhaps, currently best known for his twin monographs Fault Lines of Globalization: Legal Order and the Politics of A-Legality (OUP 2013) and Authority and the Globalisation of Inclusion and Exclusion (CUP 2018). His current research is primarily oriented to legal and political-philosophical issues germane to globalisation processes, including participation in a six-year research program, Constitutionalizing in the Anthropocene. In dealing with these topics, Lindahl draws on (post-)phenomenology and theories of collective action of analytical provenance, while also seeking to do justice to the nitty-gritty of positive law.

Inger-Johanne Sand

Inger-Johanne Sand is Professor of Public Law and Head of Department at the Institute of Public and International Law, University of Oslo, Norway. She has been Visiting Professor at Copenhagen Business School (2005-2007) and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Turku (2011), the University of Gothenburg (2015) and the University of Copenhagen (2018). She has published extensively in the areas of constitutional and administrative law, the sociology of law, legal theory, environmental law, and European and international constitutional law. Among her latest publications in English are the chapters ‘The Council of Europe and Pan-European General Principles of Good Administration – the Influence on the Administrative Law of Norway’ in Ulrich Stelkens and Agnė Andrijauskaitė (eds.), Good Administration and the Council of Europe: Law, Principles, and Effectiveness (OUP 2020) and ‘Varieties of Authority in International Law – State Consent, International Organisations, Courts, Experts and Citizens’ in Patrick Capps and Henrik Palmer Olsen (eds.), Legal Authority beyond the State (CUP 2018).

Neil Walker

Neil Walker is has been the Regius Professor of Public Law and the Law of Nature and Nations at the University of Edinburgh since 2008. Before that he was Professor of European Law at the European University Institute, Florence 2000-2008. He has published widely on questions of subnational, national, European and transnational constitutional law and theory, and also on question of policing and security. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His most recent monograph is Intimations of Global Law (CUP 2015). He is presently completing a book on the relationship between law and utopia, funded by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship.

Multiscalar Legal Studies: A Conversation with Mariana Valverde (Toronto) and Luis Eslava (Kent) (5 May 2021)

Wednesday, 5 May 2021, from 5.00pm to 7.00pm EEST/UTC+3, Zoom.

Please note that the timing of the event has been determined in order to ease participation from transatlantic time zones.

Over the past decades, multiscalar approaches have developed into an important research perspective in the social sciences. In multiscalar analyses, the dimensions of the local, the regional, the national, the transnational or pan-regional, as well as the international or global, are not regarded as separate levels to be treated independently but, rather, as units in mutually constituting institutional and personal networks. This development concerns socio-legal studies, as well. So, for example, socio-legal theorist Mariana Valverde has recently noted that although the term ‘scale’ does not belong to traditional legal vocabulary, especially the work of international and transnational legal scholars bears evidence of approaches that geographers would call ‘scale shifting’ or ‘multiscalar governance’.

The proliferation of independent and yet interconnected normative orders has also enabled socio-legal research more generally to focus on the scalar dimensions of pluralist legal phenomena. Ranging from transnational environmental regulation and sustainability to migration and human rights law, multiscalar analyses provide a better opportunity for grasping the complexities of a truly globalised legal environment. With numerous lawmaking authorities and entities involved, the nation state is no longer the privileged legislative hub that it once was even if it still remains an important element in the multiple scales of law and governance.

The aim of the 2021 HSLI main event, co-convened by Professors Jeremy Gould and Panu Minkkinen, is to explore further and to discuss the possibilities of multiscalar approaches in socio-legal scholarship.

The event is open to all interested, but you are invited to register your interest in participating participate through this registration form. The Zoom link will be emailed to all who have registered prior to the event. All registration data will be deleted after the event.

Provisional programme outline
Background reading

In order to facilitate the discussion, you are encouraged to familiarise yourselves with the literature outlined below before the event.

About the main speakers

Luis Eslava
Dr Luis Eslava is Reader in International Law at the University of Kent, UK, Senior Fellow at Melbourne Law School, Australia, International Professor at Universidad Externado de Colombia, and a core member of the teaching faculty at Harvard Law School’s Institute for Global Law and Policy. Bringing together insights from anthropology, history and legal and social theory, his work focuses on the multiple ways in which international norms, aspirations and institutional practices, both old and new, come to shape and become part of our everyday life, arguing that closer critical attention needs to be paid to this co-constitutive relationship between international law ‘up there’ and life ‘down here’. In addition to numerous articles and chapters, his most recent books are the monograph Local Space, Global Life: The Everyday Operation of International Law and Development (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and the co-edited collection Bandung, Global History and International Law: Critical Pasts, Pending Futures (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Mariana Valverde
Professor Mariana Valverde holds a chair at the Centre for Criminology and Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto, Canada, as well as courtesy cross-appointments at the Department of Geography and Planning and the Faculty of Law. She has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 2006. Her main research interests are currently urban law and governance (historically and in the present) and, at the theoretical level, Foucault, sexuality studies, theories of spatiotemporality, and actor-network theory. Her recent monographs include Michel Foucault (Routledge, 2017) which explores Foucault’s theoretical contribution to the fields of criminology, law, justice and penology while seeking to dispel some commonly held misconceptions about the French philosopher’s relevance to criminology and law, and Chronotopes of Law: Jurisdiction, Scale and Governance (Routledge, 2015) where Professor Valverde adapts notions such as intertextuality, dialogism, and Mikhail Bakhtin’s ‘chronotope’ in order to synthesise considerations of space and time in a theoretical framework that is open-ended, interactive and dynamic. Most recently, she has coedited (and contributed to) the Routledge Handbook of Law and Society (Routledge, 2021, publisher’s discount flyer available here).

Jeremy Gould (Helsinki), ‘The Honourable Lady Justice Professor Munalula dissents!’ (14 April 2021)

… Or, how Zambia’s Constitutional Court judges think – about power, for example

Members of the Law Association of Zambia voting to censure the Zambian President’s firing of his Director of Public Prosecutions as unconstitutional. Photo: Jeremy Gould.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021, from 2pm to 4 pm EET (UTC+2), Zoom.

This presentation is part of a longitudinal attempt to engage ethnographically with the politics of constitutionalism in Zambia, a former British colony in Southern Africa. A remarkably stable country (given its context), with a thriving middle class, Zambia is afflicted with grievous social problems. The distribution of wealth and welfare among the population is as skewed toward injustice as in any country on the planet. The climate emergency is already wreaking havoc on domestic food security. And yet for the past twenty years, the nation’s political passions have been invested to an amazing degree into tugs-of-war about ‘constitutionalism.’

My talk examines the work of the new Constitutional Court (est. 2016), a key outcome of two decades of deeply politicized constitution-making. Through the scrutiny of debates within the court on styles of constitutional interpretation, I consider the emerging properties of Zambia’s postcolonial/postliberal constitutionalism. The substantive focal point concerns the ‘unfetteredness’ of executive power. A subsidiary motif is the role of politico-legal culture in the (non)realization of professed democratic ideals.

The event is open to all interested0, but kindly register your intention to participate through the registration form available here. You will receive the Zoom link shortly before the event by email. All registration data will be deleted after the event.

About the speaker

Jeremy Gould has a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Helsinki, where he taught Development Studies from 1973 to 2010. From 2010 to 2018 he was Professor of International Development Studies at the University of Jyväskylä. Upon retirement from Jyväskylä he has returned to anthropology in Helsinki where he continues research and supervision. He is finalizing a manuscript for Routledge based on long-term legal ethnography entitled Political legality. Prerogativism and constitution-making in postcolonial Zambia.

Call for Abstracts: Feminist Takes on Post-Truth Politics (15 April 2021)

This Special Issue of Philosophy and Social Criticism solicits essays that address the politics of (post-)truth as a distinctive matter of concern for feminist philosophy. It will explore the embodiment of truth in truth-tellers and in material practices and will highlight the dual values of contesting the given order and striving to create a common world.

Given the ways in which post-truth undermines the conditions for democratic thinking and action and diminishes practices of truth-telling, it seems crucial that feminist philosophers address both the phenomena and discourses of post-truth in order to take up the crisis, catastrophe, and possibilities of contemporary reality.

We anticipate contributions from multiple perspectives including those of decolonial studies, democratic theory, critical phenomenology, and new materialism, and making use of figures as varied as Arendt, Foucault, Rancière, Mouffe, Latour, Haraway, Ahmed, Guenther, Brown, Honig, Hill Collins, Zerilli, among others.

The Deadline for abstracts is 15 April 2021. For more detailed information, kindly consult the full call here. The Special Issue editors Catherine Koekoek (Erasmus University Rotterdam) and Emily Zakin (Miami University) can be contacted at

Book launch: ‘Constituent Power’ (14 January 2021)

Thursday, 14 January 2021, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm EET (UTC+2), Zoom.

Welcome to the online book launch seminar of Constituent Power: Law, Popular Rule and Politics (EUP 2020), co-edited by Matilda Arvidsson (Gothenburg), Leila Brännström (Lund) and Panu Minkkinen (Helsinki).

Recent social and political developments, including the presidential elections in the United States, antidemocratic state policies in Hungary and Poland, and the political climate in the rest of Europe have brought questions relating to the position and composition of ‘the people’ in constitutional democracies to the forefront. This book confronts these questions head on as leading scholars across the fields of law, legal theory, political theory and history explore the contemporary problems facing constitutional democracies.

With a strong focus on constitutional law, this book examines the legal as well as the political power of ‘the people’ in constitutional democracies. Bringing together an international range of contributors from the USA, Latin America, the UK and continental Europe, it explores the complex relationship between constitutional democracy and ‘the people’. Contributors explore this relationship through the lens of radical democracy, engaging with the work of key figures such as Hannah Arendt, Carl Schmitt, Claude Lefort and Jacques Rancière.

Contributors to the book include (in alphabetical order):

For more information on the book, please visit the publisher’s webpage. If you wish to order the book at a 30% discounted rate, kindly consult this flyer.


In addition to an introduction of the book, the launch seminar programme includes prepared comments from Professor Hans Lindahl (Tilburg) and Dr Lucia Rubinelli (Cambridge). The times are approximate.

  • 6:00pm EET Seminar opening
    Panu Minkkinen (Helsinki)
  • 6:05pm EET Introduction of the book
    Leila Brännström (Lund)
  • 6:20pm EET Prepared comments
    Lucia Rubinelli (Cambridge)
    Hans Lindahl (Tilburg)
  • 7:00pm EET Q&A and discussion
  • 7:30pm EET End of seminar

The event is open to all interested, but registration is required. Kindly register by filling in this form by Monday, 11 January 2021. You will receive the Zoom link by email after registrations have been successfully completed. All registration data will be deleted after the event.


Hans Lindahl
Hans Lindahl is Professor of Legal Philosophy at Tilburg University (the Netherlands), and Professor of Global Law at Queen Mary University of London. He obtained law and philosophy degrees at the Universidad Javeriana (Colombia) before completing his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Louvain (Belgium). Lindahl has published widely but is, perhaps, currently best known for his twin monographs Fault Lines of Globalization: Legal Order and the Politics of A-Legality (OUP 2013) and Authority and the Globalisation of Inclusion and Exclusion (CUP 2018).

Lucia Rubinelli
Lucia Rubinelli is Junior Research Fellow in the History of Political Thought at Robinson College, University of Cambridge. Prior to joining Cambridge, she was Fellow in Political Theory at the London School of Economics. She received her PhD from the University of Cambridge and holds degrees from the EHESS (Paris), the LSE and the Università di Trieste (Italy). She is author of, among other texts, Constituent Power: A History (CUP 2020). Starting in July 2021, she will be Assistant Professor in Political Theory at Yale University.


Jacopo Martire (Bristol), ‘A Foucauldian Interpretation of Modern Law’ (3 December 2020)

Thursday, 3 December 2020, from 2pm to 4pm EET (UTC+2), Zoom.

The theme for the events of the Helsinki Socio-Legal Initiative (HSLI) during the 2020-2021 academic session address the various ways in which Michel Foucault’s work has influenced the study of law. This ranges from analyses of disciplinary and governmental power to the more ethically attuned emphases of his later works. The aim of the events is to encourage the exchange of ideas that either deal with Foucault directly or have been inspired by the various theoretical frameworks that his philosophy has provided.

This first event of the ongoing academic year is built as a ‘meet the author’ session with Dr Jacopo Martire (Bristol) who will present his book A Foucauldian Interpretation of Modern Law: From Sovereignty to Normalisation and Beyond (Edinburgh University Press 2017). The presentation will be followed by an opportunity for q&a and general discussion. Dr Martire has kindly provided copies of chapters 1 and 4 of his book as background material, and we encourage participants to familiarise themselves with it prior to the event.

  • 2:15pm Seminar opening
    Professor Panu Minkkinen (Helsinki)
  • 2:25pm A Foucauldian Interpretation of Modern Law
    Dr Jacopo Martire (Bristol)
  • 3:15pm Discussion
  • 3:45pm End of seminar

The event is open to all interested, but registration is required. Kindly register by filling in the form by Tuesday, 1 December 2020. You will receive a link to the background material and the Zoom link by email after your registration has been successfully completed. All registration data will be deleted after the event.

About The book

Although Foucault is certainly one of most influential scholars of our age, it is safe to say that law for Foucauldian scholarship is something like an ‘indigestible meal’. This is due to the liberal challenge that haunts Foucauldian approaches to law, which goes by the name of the ‘expulsion thesis’: how is it possible to analyse law through Foucauldian lenses if Foucault himself claimed (albeit cursorily) that law, in modern times, has been colonised by other disciplines? Foucauldian responses had been attempted but they appear – for all their sophistication – not only rather unconvincing but also advocating a sort of recourse to a language of rights and law that is – at its core – undistinguishable from that of liberalism. How is that possible? I suggest that the answer lied in the fact that the idea of law – in its most foundational concepts – is accepted as a sort of black box in modern legal theory and therefore we are unable to question properly its structural limits. To overcome this limitation, my work attempts a genealogy, sketching the most basic structure or syntax of the modern legal discourse.

Through my genealogical reconstruction (which draws both from the history of political philosophy and on the three seminal revolutions – English, French, and American – that have established the constitutional horizon of modernity) I propose that modern law and modern biopolitical forms of power developed symbiotically and that, to the extent that while modern law establishes the existence of a universal legal subject, law’s functioning is made possible by the homogenization of society through normalising practices. On this basis, I argue that – in the context of Zygmunt Bauman’s vision of modernity as a ‘liquid society’ – we are moving towards the absolute limit of the normalizing complex. As normalising strategies are increasingly unable to homogenise a social body which is increasingly composed by individualised and multifaceted subject, modern law faces two interconnected challenges: a normative one (how can normalising laws properly reflect the wills of a mass of differentiated virtual individuals?), and a functional one (how can normalising laws effectively regulate a new protean social body?).

About the author

Dr Jacopo Martire is Senior Lecturer in Legal Theory and Deputy LLM Director at the University of Bristol. He teaches Jurisprudence, European Union Law, and Social and Legal Theory. He joined the University of Bristol Law School in January 2018 having previously held teaching positions at the University of Stirling, Manchester University, and King’s College London. Dr Martire’s main area of research is in legal and political theory with a specific focus on a reconstruction of the fundamental ideological structures of modern law in the light of Michel Foucault’s theories. His main contribution in this respect is his monograph.

Currently, Dr Martire is also developing his research in three directions. First, he is exploring the question of the ‘Other’ in its politico-philosophical declension, and in particular in relation to EU law. Second, he is analysing the interrelation between law and new forms of technoregulation, scrutinising how technological advancements (especially in the field of automation and algorithmic governance) challenge the classical legal model of ‘command and control’ and the legal-political assumptions linked to it. Third, he is examining the ‘underbellly of law’ by investigating the aporias and paradoxes of the modern legal discourse through the medium of cinema and literature.

People matter: some methodological remarks on the study of transnational law

Emilia Korkea-aho and Panu Minkkinen

This short presentation was intended for a panel at a seminar on transnational law, 12-13 March 2020, organised by Professor Päivi Leino-Sandberg and the Erik Castrén Institute. Unfortunately the authors were unable to attend. It is therefore here for your information.


In a recent article, Natasha Affolder, the Canadian professor of transnational law, noted how transnational law has served as a kind of ‘holding pen’ for those who have felt restricted by the inability of existing legal vocabularies to accommodate new versions of law as it is observed, lived and practiced (Affolder 2019: 3). A major attraction of this ‘holding pen’ is its ability to turn away from states and other institutional entities to ‘actors’ (Affolder 2019: 8). Actors are, then, often defined with reference to what they are not, and, consequently, transnational law is mainly concerned with actors that are not states.

Despite this focus on actors that seems to evoke images of individuals buzzing around in networks, Affolder also noted how transnational law has neglected to include people in its analyses. Transnational legal scholarship is seemingly full of accounts about ‘actors’ (non-state, NGOs, corporations, substate, and so on), ‘agents’ and ‘experts’ all operating in a complex web of networks. But curiously by avoiding to address ‘people’, the use of actor-oriented operators also leads to a ‘conceptual flattening’ that redirects the inquiry somewhat ironically back into institutionalised accounts of transnational law ignoring the human origins of all network activities and other constellations where agents, actors and experts gather.

Affolder’s observations about the promise of transnational law as the ‘holding pen’ and her reservations about the ‘conceptual flatness’ of its actor-oriented vocabulary are both plausible.  But we would like to take her argument a bit further. In several places, she refers to the ‘lived practice of law’, to ‘lived reality’, or to transnational law’s commitment to uncovering hidden law and the people behind it (Affolder 2019: 3, 4, 15). But she never really elaborates how we should go about doing this. There is surely a need to ‘bring human actors back on stage’, as she claims. But we need to know how. What does ‘bringing people on stage’ entail?

We would like to suggest that if we wish to take Affolder’s challenge seriously, a more ethnographic approach, perhaps anchored in a new conception of legal realism, is needed. Viewing transnational legal networks through an ethnographic lens would not only bring human actors back on stage, but it would also improve our understanding of institutions and their practices and helps us to see them in a more nuanced light.

Perhaps this captures the real uniqueness of ‘transnational law’ in general. Its normative substance can neither be inferred from the will of some transnational legislator nor from the practices of authoritative institutions, but from the routines and interactions of networked individuals.


Affolder, Natasha, ‘Transnational Environmental Law’s Missing People’, Transnational Environmental Law 8:3 (2019), pp. 463-488.

Concepts, paradigms and slogans (24 May 2019)

Concepts, paradigms and slogans – From human rights to human dignity and sustainability. EASA LAW NET workshop on the key concepts of anthropology of law and governance

Friday, 24 May 2019, from 9am to 4:30pm, Siltavuorenpenger 1A, 2nd floor, meeting room 229

Convenors: Reetta Toivanen, Miia Halme-Tuomisaari, Jane Cowan

The aim of this workshop is to bring together anthropologists working in the anthropology of governance, rights and law to discuss, generate and, where appropriate, define/redefine key concepts, paradigms and familiar slogans that frame practices and performances of governance. Extractivism, environmental sustainability, transnationalism, power and security are among the key concepts that will be discussed. ‘Sustainability’ constitutes one exemplary case of a discourse that in recent years has become increasingly central within global governance, prompting the question: what is entailed in the apparent shift from human rights toward human dignity and sustainability? What changes can be identified, where do they come from, and what do they express? More generally, what and who are such new or subtly shifting paradigms serving? The workshop offers an opportunity to consider ethnographically grounded explorations on the meanings and consequences of concepts, paradigms and slogans as they endure or alter.

For more information on this event organised by by the Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives (EuroStorie), Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS), Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) and the network Anthropology of Law, Rights and Governance (LAW NET) of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), see here.