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.

Law and ethnography: a methodological debate (9 May 2019)

Thursday, 9 May 2019, from 10am to 5pm, Porthania P545 (Faculty room).

The 2019 main event of the Helsinki Socio-Legal Initiative (HSLI) addresses the largely untapped potential of ethnographic methods (participant observation, qualitative interviewing, etc.) in the socio-legal study of law. A common misconception associates ethnography exclusively with the anthropological study of ‘exotic’ legal cultures. Far too little information is available on what these methods have offered – and continue to offer – the study of law and legal institutions in our own contemporary world. What added value do ethnographic methods represent? What new perspectives into familiar phenomena can they open?

In addition to a keynote address by Professor Marie-Benedicte Dembour (Brighton), a leading human rights scholar at the intersection of law and anthropology, and a panel discussion with leading experts, the one-day event includes a session dedicated to individual papers in which ethnographic methods have either been used or are being planned.

The event is open to all interested.

The event has been made possible with generous support from the Hilkka and Otto Brusiin Foundation and through collaboration with the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS).


  • 10:15am Opening words
    Professor Panu Minkkinen (Helsinki)
  • 10:25am Keynote address
    Professor Marie-Benedicte Dembour (Brighton), ‘The four anthropological mottos and the study of law’
  • 11:15am Discussion
  • 11:45am Lunch break (at your own expense)
  • 1:15pm Paper presentations, followed by discussion
    • Nora Fabritius (Helsinki), ‘Ethnic and national identities in cultural minority rights argumentation – looking into rights talk at the grass-root level’
      This paper presents a close reading of everyday rights talk on the grass-root level of a multicultural locality in Northern Norway. It puts explicit focus on the methods used; Argumentation and Discourse Analysis. The paper underlines the importance of taking into consideration the local context when implementing minority rights since rights and identities are negotiated in plural and fragmented ways in relation to other groups, the nation, and the regional community. For this, ethnographic studies have much to offer. The study shows how everyday rights talk becomes intertwined with the ways those the rights aim to protect understand, present and describe themselves and their neighbours.
    • Mehrnoosh Farzamfar (Helsinki), ‘Applying human rights-based soft security measures in response to the contemporary security-related challenges of immigration: a transformation of global governance’
      In my PhD dissertation, I argue how there could be a reconciliation between conserving the national security of states and the safety of host societies, on the one hand, and ensuring the human rights of immigrants, on the other hand, by adopting a human rights-based approach to security issues, instead of securitisation of immigration. Due to the multi-faced nature of the topic of my PhD research, this study is a multi-disciplinary investigation combining law, political science, and social science.
    • Stephen Phillips (Åbo Akademi), ‘State-created vulnerability through denial of access to services: the case of single male asylum seekers’
      This paper explores the extent to which the denial of the vulnerability label to certain individuals and groups can lead to an increase in their level of vulnerability, as through their exclusion from services they are often placed at greater risk. In this research I will draw on my experiences as a caseworker in a small NGO in Australia where I worked with community based asylum seekers. I plan to return to this NGO and observe sessions with clients, as well as conduct interviews with clients and staff. This case study will be used as a reference point to examine how the vulnerability concept is theorised, constructed and applied, and to demonstrate the exclusionary nature of the vulnerability concept and its potential (mis)use as a tool of power.
    • Discussants: Professor Jo Shaw (Edinburgh/Tampere) and Associate Professor Magdalena Kmak (Åbo Akademi)
  • 2.45pm Coffee break
  • 3:15pm Panel discussion: ‘Law and ethnography’, followed by q&a/discussion
    Panellists: Professor Jane Cowan (Sussex/HCAS), Professor Marie-Benedicte Dembour (Brighton), Dr Miia Halme-Tuomisaari (HCAS).
  • 4:30pm Final discussion
  • 4:45pm End of seminar

About the keynote speaker

Marie-Benedicte Dembour is Professor of Law and Anthropology at Brighton Business School, University of Brighton, UK. While Professor Dembour’s research interests cover a wide range of subjects in the anthropology of law, her particular area of expertise is international human rights law. Her numerous publications include the book Who Believes in Human Rights? Reflections on the European Convention (CUP, 2006) which examines how classical critiques of human rights (realism, utilitarianism, Marxism, feminism and cultural relativism) manifest themselves in the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) showing that the ECtHR must confront the dilemmas and contradictions these critiques highlight. Her latest award-winning monograph, When Humans Become Migrants. Study of the European Court of Human Rights with an Inter-American Counterpoint (OUP, 2016), reveals how the ECtHR was never especially pro-active at defending migrants’ rights. It contrasts ‘the Strasbourg reversal’, which puts the principle of state sovereignty and border controls before human rights, to the pro-human approach adopted by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

About the panellists

Jane Cowan is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex, UK. During the academic year 2018-2019, she is Jane and Aatos Erkko Visiting Professor at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS).
Miia Halme-Tuomisaari is a legal anthropologist specialised in the analysis of the contemporary human rights phenomenon. She is currently Core-Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS).

Ben Booth (Edward Elgar), ‘How to craft a good and persuasive book proposal’ (7 March 2019)

Thursday, 7 March 2019, from 2.30pm (please note time) to 4pm, P545 (Faculty room).

Are you working on a project that is likely to lead to an edited volume? Are you considering publishing your doctoral thesis as a monograph through an international publishing house? In this training session, Ben Booth, representing a leading international legal publisher, will give you hands-on tips and advice on how to formulate your research into a strong book proposal. The session, which will also include a brief introduction of the Edward Elgar law catalogue, concludes with a q&a session where you can direct your questions and queries to someone who has practical professional expertise in academic publishing.

Ben Booth is Publisher (Academic Law) with Edward Elgar Publishing, a leading international academic and professional publishing house with a strong focus on the social sciences and legal fields. Ben has worked in publishing for over 15 years and is part of the commissioning team for Elgar’s growing law list. He takes responsibility for the broad areas of public law, European law and international law, and has helped to develop a strong focus on key topics such as environmental law and human rights.

The Doctoral Clinic (Vaasa, 8-9 April 2019)

Photo: Asko Halme

The two-day national workshop, co-organised by the Faculty of Law, University Helsinki, and the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi University, and hosted by the Vaasa Unit of Legal Studies of the University of Helsinki, is intended for doctoral candidates in law and neighbouring disciplines (politics, social sciences, humanities, etc.) from all Finnish universities working on themes related to law.

The main aim of the workshop is to enable you to tackle the methodological problems that you may be facing in your thesis work. While the focus of the event is methodological, its approach is practical and ‘hands-on’. What is the difference between a theoretical framework and a method? What methods are available for legal research, and which method does the research question of your thesis imply? What options do you have? What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of the options you have?

The workshop will include:

  • an advance reading assignment;
  • plenary sessions on general methodological questions and the main options;
  • working in groups assessing and comparing the different methodological approaches that are available to you;
  • a pop-up clinic for face-to-face consultations with the instructors on drafts of the methodological sections of your theses or of your research plans; and
  • a written assignment submitted either as a self-reflective academic learning diary (3 ECTS) or a research essay intended to function as the first draft of the methodological section of your thesis (5 ECTS).

Having successfully completed the workshop, you should be able to:

  • understand the basic methodological approaches available in legal scholarship and how they apply to your own thesis project;
  • manage the complexity of legal phenomena through the systematic frameworks provided by different methodological approaches;
  • discuss and evaluate critically the political interconnections between various legal phenomena and their study; and
  • appreciate the challenges that interdisciplinarity introduces to legal scholarship.

Participation is free, but participating doctoral candidates are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation costs. Please consult your doctoral programmes and Faculties for possible subsidies.

More information (including travel and accommodation information and registration form) is now available on the event’s Moodle platform.

Emilia Mataix Ferrándiz (HCAS), ‘Reconstructing Roman Sea Trade Law (2nd cent BC-3rd cent AD): Materials and Textual Evidence’ (15 January 2019)

Tuesday, 15 January 2019, from 2pm to 4pm, Porthania P669 (6th floor).

This study seeks to understand the changes in sea trade law and the material record associated with it in the period from 2nd cent. BC until the 3rd cent. AD. To that aim, it merges ancient legal sources and the archaeological record in order to understand if there was a relation within the rulings established by law and the materials and structures used in the practice. This study will bridge the gap between theory and practice, and intends to understand what kind of communication was established between lawyers and merchants. Thus, it will address the following main research questions: (1) what mechanisms to deal with sea trade were developed by Roman law from the 2nd cent BC until 3rd cent. AD? (2) How did the changes in the law have a reflection in the artefacts and infrastructures used in commercial daily life? (3) Was Roman law designed for traders and inspired by them? Conversely, (4) were traders aware of all the particularities of Roman trade law? These questions relate to other fields of research, such as the role of political authorities in the changes in the law. It will study legal commercial mechanisms (e.g. agreements, agency) chronologically and focusing on the areas of the case studies. The commercial sites from Rome and Arles’ connections to the sea will be mapped and the areas where material evidence has been attested will be linked with the legal sources associated.

The discussant is Katja Tikka.

Dr Mataix Ferrándiz is currently Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS). She defended her PhD in Roman law in 2014 (University of Alicante and Facolta di giurisprudenza Palermo) concerning criminal liability for shipwrecking. She has just completed a second PhD in archaeology at the Universities of Southampton and Lyon 2 concerning the epigraphy of merchandise. Her research interests are in Roman law, and especially with a commercial and maritime focus. Moreover, her work also examines the ways in which the material of inscribed artefacts provides information regarding their use as objects of communication. The materiality of the epigraphy of merchandise is set against the background of Roman law shifting the focus from traditional linguistic analysis to the means by which inscribed texts were created, shaped, and used as commercial tools in the different regions of the Mediterranean.

Sanne Taekema (Erasmus University Rotterdam), ‘Exploring the concept of interlegality: From local to transnational legal orders’ (6 June 2018)

Wednesday, 6 June 2018, from 2 pm to 4 pm, Porthania P545 (Faculty room).

A generally recognized feature of the modern legal world is the existence of multiple bodies of law, which co-exist, interact and conflict in various ways. The concept of interlegality generates a specific perspective on this phenomenon, seeing it as a process of mixing elements of different legal orders to create a new legal order. Speaking of interlegality then leads to a consideration of different legal orders between which linkages appear. In this paper, the main question is how to understand the concept of ‘legal order’ in light of interlegality.

Interlegality is used as an analytical tool by socio-legal scholars, especially in legal anthopology. The term also appears in transnational legal theory. However, these uses of interlegality seem to presuppose different notions of legal order. In this paper, a view of legal order as a system is contrasted with legal order as an interactional practice. An argument is made that the plurality and tension highlighted by interlegality are problematic in a systemic view of legal order, and can be accounted for in an interactional  view. However, taking the interactional view to its limits may lead to a collapse of the notion of order altogether. This paper considers how an interactional view may incorporate elements of systemic order in order to do justice to interlegality in local and transnational contexts. Examples will be discussed in which the local and the transnational touch, such as the impact of human rights law on city governance and local support for transnational regulatory schemes.


Sanne Taekema is Professor of Jurisprudence at the Department of Sociology, Theory and Methodology, Erasmus School of Law. Her research addresses various themes in legal philosophy and methodology, including the rule of law, especially in a transnational context, general issues of legal theory, particularly the role of values in jurisprudence and legal pragmatism, methodology of legal and interdisciplinary research, and law and literature. She is Director of the research programme Rethinking the Rule of Law in an Era of Globalisation, Privatisation and Multiculturalisation and leads the research project Integrating Normative and Functional Approaches to the Rule of Law and Human Rights (INFAR). She is one of the editors-in-chief of the journal Law and Method. She has published widely on theoretical and socio-legal issues, including two edited collections Facts and Norms in Law. Interdisciplinary Reflections on Legal Method (Edward Elgar, 2016; co-edited with B. van Klink & W.H.J. de Been) and Law and Method. On Interdisciplinary Research into Law (Mohr Siebeck, 2011; co-edited with B. van Klink).

Fabrizio Esposito (EUI), ‘The case for a collaboration between law and economics: Minimalism, consumer welfare and fairness in EU antitrust and consumer law’ (24 April 2018)

Tuesday, 24 April 2018, from 2pm to 4 pm, Porthania P673 (6th floor).

“Market relations ought to be fair or efficient?”. This short question encapsulates the core of the conceptual disconnect between legal and economic research. The tensions between the two disciplines ultimately rest of the divergent answers to this question. This research shows that this sempiternal disagreement rests on a false assumption, namely that fairness and market efficiency are necessarily different concepts. A different account is possible. An efficient allocation of resources maximises consumer welfare, and not total welfare. Moreover, an efficient allocation of resources ensures the equality between the performances of the contractual parties and therefore the fairness of market relation. Accordingly, a fair market allocation is efficient and an efficient market allocation is fair.

This finding calls for a collaboration between lawyers and economists. This collaboration requires respecting the core commitments of the disciplines involved while, at the same time, taking full advantage of their comparative advantages. This primary claim is warranted by three sub-claims: one economic, one translational, and one doctrinal. The economic claim holds that consumer welfare is a maximand used in market efficiency analysis in alternative to total welfare. The translation claim holds that with consumer welfare as the maximand, it is possible to offer a plausible economic account of fair market relations. Finally, the doctrinal claim holds that consumer welfare explains better than total welfare the content and practice of a significant portion of EU antitrust and consumer law as it currently stands.


Fabrizio Esposito is completing his doctoral thesis at the European University Institute. You can download the presentation here.

This is a session in the Postgraduate Research Seminar (‘tutkijaseminaari’) for General Jurisprudential Studies (i.e. legal history, legal theory, sociology of law, law and gender studies), but all interested are cordially welcome. The session will be chaired by Professor Heikki Pihlajamäki.

Exploring the ‘studies’ in socio-legal studies: A postgraduate research seminar with Professors Reza Banakar and Tamara Hervey (3 May 2018)

Thursday, 3 May 2018, from 10am to 3pm, Porthania P545 (Faculty room).

The aim of this HSLI seminar, specifically tailored for both doctoral students working on their thesis projects and for postdoctoral researchers planning funding applications for the autumn round, is to provide clear guidance on the benefits and possibilities of socio-legal research in addressing contemporary legal phenomena. Themes to be discussed include the relationship between socio-legal research and more traditional approaches in law, as well as ways in which to proceed from research question to a socio-legal research design.

The two main speakers of the seminar are Professor Reza Banakar, Department of Sociology of Law, Lund University, Sweden, and Professor Tamara Hervey,  Jean Monnet Professor of European Union Law, School of Law, University of Sheffield, UK.

Professor Jo Shaw, Salvesen Professor of European Institutions, School of Law, University of Edinburgh, UK, will also be in attendance providing comments and participating in the discussions.

Professor Banakar, a sociologist by training, has published widely in the areas of law and social theory, socio-legal methodology, legal cultures, ethnic discrimination, public ombudsmen, law and literature, and rights. His most recent methodological texts (e.g. Normativity in Legal Sociology: Methodological Reflections on Law and Regulation in Late Modernity, Springer 2014 , available to UoH staff and students as an ebook) have dealt with especially the turbulent intersection at which socio-legal research meets doctrinal work.

Professor Hervey’s publications are mainly in the areas of European Union law, health law and policy in trans-national contexts, and discrimination law and social rights. Her current areas of interest include transnational, global and comparative health law, and equality and diversity. In addition to her own research, Professor Hervey developed and delivered with colleagues a module on legal research methods for doctoral students which gained national recognition through a successful research council application in 2006. Eventually the project resulted in the co-authored book Research Methodologies in EU and International Law (Hart, 2011).

During the second part of the seminar, two doctoral students will present their thesis projects and receive feedback from all seminar participants, including the main speakers.

No registration is required. The seminar, organized with generous support from the Doctoral Programme in Law, is open to all. Full attendance will count towards two sessions in the postgraduate research seminar (‘tutkijaseminaari’) of general jurisprudential studies (legal history, legal theory, sociology of law, law and gender studies) which doctoral students from all disciplines may benefit from.

The name of this seminar is a take on two informative introductions to socio-legal research. Professor Hervey has contributed to the 2016 collection.

Cowan, David and Daniel Wincott (eds) (2016) Exploring the ‘Legal’ in Socio-Legal Studies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Feenan, Dermot (ed.) (2013) Exploring the ‘Socio’ of Socio-Legal Studies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (this book is currently available to UoH staff and students as an ebook through Springer).


  • 10:15am Opening words
  • 10:25am Professor Reza Banakar (Lund), ‘Socio-legal research: What has empirical research to offer the law, legal studies and legal education?’
  • 10:55am Professor Tamara Hervey (Sheffield), ‘”Law in books”, “law in practice”, “law in context”: studying the effects of the emerging post-Brexit constitutional settlement on health’
  • 11:25am Discussion

11:45am Lunch break

  • 1:15pm Two doctoral student presentations
    Tero Kivinen, ‘Reimagining Animal Law’
    Kangle Zhang, ‘The Expertise of the Rating Agencies and Their Distributive Effects’
  • 2pm Comments and discussion
  • 2:15pm General discussion
  • 2:45pm End of seminar

Julie Billaud (Sussex), ‘Auditing the world: Reflections on the transformation of “compliance” monitoring techniques in International Organizations’ (12 April 2018)

Thursday, 12 April 2018, from 2pm to 4pm, Language Centre (Fabianinkatu 26), lecture room 403.

Since the turn of the century, the regulatory regimes of human rights (HR) and humanitarian law (IHL) have moved away from legal discourses based on a broad vision of justice to incorporate quantitative instruments aimed at strengthening ‘compliance’. Focusing on the ubiquitous presence of audit in international organizations, this lecture investigates the link between the utopian ideals embodied by global administrations and their concrete implementation in everyday bureaucratic work. Adopting an anthropological perspective informed by a genealogical method, the objective is to analyze the effects of audit as a standard for ensuring accountability. By comparing mechanisms designed to monitor international law at the UN Human Rights Council and at the International Committee of the Red Cross, the lecture identifies elements of continuity and rupture in principles and practices between monitoring mechanisms used in the recent past and in the present. It asks: What is driving the spread of audit in international organizations? Which actors, using which regimes of values, legal technologies and knowledge practices, intervene in the field of international monitoring to produce ‘compliance’? Answering these questions will generate a better understanding of key transformations in the transnational legal orders of IHL and HR: 1) the increased translation of the ‘global public good’ in quantitative terms, 2) a shift from a regulatory regime based on external supervision to one based on States’ self-regulation via ‘transparent’ self-accounting. I argue that the study of the deployment of audit in the utopian field of ‘world justice’ will provide insights of public relevance to understand the rationalization efforts that characterize modern institutions.


Julie Billaud is a legal anthropologist researching Afghanistan, European Islam, gender, international governance and human rights. She is the author of Kabul Carnival: Gender Politics in Postwar Afghanistan (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) as well as numerous articles. She is currently Research Associate at the University of Sussex Rights and Justice Center. She is also the co-founder of

Jo Shaw (Edinburgh/HCAS), ‘Integration, Dis-integration and Citizenship in a Troubled European Union’ (3 April 2018)

HCAS Brown Bag seminar on Tuesday, 3 April 2018, at 12.00noon, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Fabianinkatu 24), HCAS Common Room (third floor).

The paper examines the impact of the EU upon citizenship, and uses two cases of ‘shunning’ and ‘seeking’ membership in north west and south east Europe in order to study the partial, fragmentary and contested governance of citizenship in the euro-polity. Just because the power to set the rules on acquisition and loss of citizenship is prima facie a paradigm case of national sovereign prerogative, this does not mean that these rules are not influenced by factors such as migration flows, the measures taken by other countries and the activities of supranational and international organisations. We will see how the two processes of shunning and seeking membership (Brexit and enlargement in south east Europe) magnify tensions within the multi-level architecture of citizenship in Europe. Since neither case evinces a smooth pathway to exit or entry, this intensifies pressures on the citizenship regimes of states in ways that extend beyond the immediate implications of the guarantees of freedom of movement and non-discrimination on grounds of nationality or other relevant provisions (e.g. on visa liberalisation) to be found in EU law. We can use these cases to observe the ebbs and flows of what is often termed ‘Europeanisation’, understood in a broad socio-cultural sense that encompasses not only the enforceable legal obligations of EU membership, but also other issues of ‘fit’ between the EU and the national and subnational levels of governance.


Jo Shaw is Salvesen Professor of European Institutions at the School of Law, University of Edinburgh, UK, and EURIAS Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (2017-2018).