Am attending Law and Society in Chicago this weekend. Law and Society is an enormous conference for law and social sciences covering a wide range of topics. Am here to speak about citizen participation and learn about trends in interdisciplinary scholarship.
This morning I had the pleasure to attend an excellent panel entitled, "The Politics of Law and Parallel Modalities: Comparing Legal and Extra-Legal Responses to Sex-Related Social Problems."
Larry Levine of the McGeorge School of Law and New York Law School spoke on gay marriage and recent events in San Francisco, in particular whether the mayor's actions were the legally and politically best way to advance the cause of gay rights.
Ruth Jones of McGeorge spoke about abuse victims search for extra-legal redress from the Catholic Church itself.
Greg Pingree of McGeorge offered a four-part explanation for the absence of enforcement of polygamy laws in Utah and Arizona and explored the tension between Mormon history, contemporary identity and the enforcement of norms.
Nicola Loughran of Gray Solicitors in Glasgow presented a paper on the female genital mutilation claims in UK asylum cases and discussed the difficulty of defining women as a persecuted class.
Susan Olson of the Political Science Department at the University of Utah then drew the connections between the papers and offered a commentary on the common themes in an attempt to understand the law's response to the ordering of human sexual relations. She applied the typology of basic legal precepts (rights, immunities, duties)of E. Adamson Hoebel, the anthropologist of law in pre-literate societies, to surveying the different responses of the law in each case.
I wanted to blog something about this panel not only because it was compelling but also because it suggested, for me, a number of commonalities to the discussion here.