EASA welcomes you to our re-designed website, which now works well on all devices. On small screens the menu is revealed using the main menu button. We have changed the background colour to improve readability, but you can try other contrast options by clicking on site then contrast buttons (repeat to see all options). We welcome feedback to .
Navigate and change contrast

We use cookies to store your preferred colour choice and to collect site statistics.


This is the former event pages of the Network for Anthropology of Law and Rights (LAW) and the Network for Anthropology of International Governance (AIG). These networks have merged into LAW NET.


BernAnticipating Law: The Prognostics of Fear and Hope

19-21 September 2017, Bern
Organisers: Professor Julia Eckert, Miia Halme-Tuomisaari, David Loher and Tobias Eule

With calling for papers that engage with the theme of “Anticipating law” we mean to call into view both anticipations of law, that is the hopes and fears people put into law, and anticipatory laws, that is the attempt to legally regulate the future. Both anticipations of law and anticipatory laws, we hold, are shaped by fear and hope as different forms of anticipation.

The call for papers is open. Abstracts should be submitted by 1 March 2017 and full papers are expected by 1 September 2017. For submission of abstracts and queries contact Professor Julia Eckert,

Many laws are geared towards organising and regulating the future. Some of these pursue specific developmental goals (‘Social engineering’) and attempt to shape the future by giving incentives for achieving those goals; others are geared more specifically toward preventing future events and diminishing risk. Moreover, the regulation and prevention of events in the future is a legal field of increasing importance; this is related to rapid technological change that poses problems of unknown effects ever more frequently, think of Nanotechnology, Climate change, Robotics and the like (see Beck 1996). The hopes of shaping the future by legal regulation have diminished in the face of the seemingly autonomous dynamics of distributed agency in a globalised world, and have given way to logics of prevention.

The regulation of the future is, of course, implicit in law generally, as law is based on the assumption that it orients action by people and thereby produces wanted outcomes in the future and prevents unwanted ones, by threat of sanction or by award of benefit. However, theories about law’s effect on human action change. They change in accordance with changing understandings of safety and security and related ideas of what it needs to produce or safeguard social order. Whether thus preventive logics or those, which are confident about the possibilities of law to shape the future, prevail – in short: how hope and fear are inscribed in law - is a matter of social analysis.

This raises one strand of questions: how does law know the future? What techniques and technologies provide information about the future that is used by law? How are fear and hope inscribed in law?

A second strand of questions that is central to this workshop concerns anticipations of law by people subjected to it: Fear and hope that are implicit in law’s making, are also central to the experience of law. Experiential and normative dimensions of expectations toward law are entangled in often contradictory ways, disappointments with law (from past encounters) not necessarily diminishing hope in it for the future. What is it precisely that inspires fear? Is it the same as what they put hope in? Or is “the law” that is feared a different one than that which they employ in hope in their various struggles and endeavours? What is it precisely that inspires hope in law, and how does it relate to other hopes and aspirations, to visions of the future?

PAST EVENTS (LAW network before the merger)

P063 Evidence in question: anthropological authority and legal judgment
Panel at EASA 2016 in Milan, 20-23 July, 2016
Convenors: Gerhard Anders (University of Edinburgh) and Julia Eckert (University of Bern)

Short Abstract: This panel examines discussions about evidence in legal proceedings. Different legal orders have developed varying concepts of evidence that are linked to notions of personhood, fact, and truth. These raise new questions also for the current debate about evidence in anthropology.

Edinburgh UniLegal anthropology in Europe at a crossroads
EASA law network workshop at the University of Edinburgh, 22 January 2016
Venue: Chrystal Macmillan Building, Practice Suite, 1st floor, 15A George Square.

The workshop features presentations that examine the state of legal anthropology in Europe. Due to the rise of the anthropology of human rights and a growing interest in governance in the context of the nation-state and beyond there has been a welcome shift to legal matters within anthropology as a whole. In political anthropology the state and governance have emerged as major research interests. In general, there is a growing number of anthropological studies of bureaucracies, national courts, international tribunals, truth commissions and other sites.

What does this shift towards legal matters, defined most broadly to include forms of non-state normative orders, mean for legal anthropologists? What is the significance of this 'welcome, exciting renaissance' (John Comaroff, 2006) for legal studies and social anthropology in Europe and beyond? These will be among the questions the workshop will address by drawing on ethnographic studies of law, rights and social order.


9:15 – 9:45: Registration and coffee
9:45 – 10:00: Introduction by Gerhard Anders (University of Edinburgh)

10:00 – 12:00: Panel 1
Chair: Andy Aitchison (University of Edinburgh),
Miia Halme Tuomisaari (University of Helsinki): ‘Law as a state of mind: Vignettes from the UN Human Rights Committee’.
Ukri Soirila (University of Helsinki): ‘Legitimacy and Life: Humanity discourse in global law and policy’.
Julie Billaud (Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology): ‘UPR as entry into international governance and audit culture’.
Luis Eslava (Kent Law School): ‘Toward the international law of the everyday’.
Discussant: Isabelle Schulte-Tenckhoff (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva)

Lunch break: 12:00 – 12:45

12:45 – 14:00: Panel 2:
Chair: Anne Griffiths (University of Edinburgh)
Reetta Toivanen (University of Helsinki): ‘On the meaning and consequences of ‘translating’ universal human rights standards: Case studies in the Arctic’.
Astrid Jamar (University of Edinburgh): ‘Everyday in Aidland for transitional justice and human rights practitioners: Quotidian relations and structural contradictions’.
José Maria Munoz (University of Edinburgh): ‘Anthropology and soft law’.

Coffee break: 14:00 – 14:15

14:15 – 15:30: Panel 3:
Chair: Gerhard Anders (University of Edinburgh)
Andrea Pia (London School of Economics): ‘The politics of legal fixes: What is to be learned from China’s attempt to silence dissent through law?’.
Nathan Thomas Coben (University of California – Irvine): ‘Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims: Jurisdictions, borders, and boundaries in Ireland’.
Karen T. Hough (Oxford Brookes University): ‘After the boat: Legal anthropology and the Mediterranean migration crisis’.

15:30 – 16:00 Concluding remarks by Toby Kelly (University of Edinburgh) 



P045 Tracing eligibilities: moralities, performances, practices
Panel at the EASA 2014 in Tallinn, 3 August 2014
Convenors: Heike Drotbohm (Albert-Ludwigs Universität, Freiburg) and Julia Eckert (University of Bern)

The politics of 'eligibility' refer to imaginations of deservingness and vulnerability. In this panel we will bring together papers, which trace moralities, performances and practices of eligibility in different institutional contexts and from different actors' perspectives. The creation (and disolution) of eligibility can be understood as a dialogical moment of collaboration between state bureaucrats, lawyers, medical assessors, aid organizations, witnesses, and the applicants/potential claimants/candidates themselves, in which the credibility of certain stories, the authenticity of persons, and 'truth' is judged. We enquire into the criteria mobilized by different actors for creating eligibility and into the determination of evidence for justifying decisions on eligibility. We are interested in understanding the ways in which different actors come to imagine 'the vulnerable other', in how ideas of eligibility respond to historical shifts, are adapted, and how their relation to ideas of a body politic is assessed from different perspectives. We would also like to understand how apparent non- or misunderstandings as well as failures or refusals are interpreted from different points of view. Last but not least, we ask what kind of dilemmas and methodological challenges do ethnographers face when researching eligibility from different angles? This panel seeks papers drawing from anthropological fieldwork, which trace eligibilities refering to individual (e.g. access to territory/residence/citizenship, access to health/medical care, protection from violence, financial support) or collective bodies (e.g. collective rights, humanitarian aid).



Workshop Report: ‘Mobility within and to the Global South’, Cologne, December 5-7, 2013.
Organizers: Michaela Pelican and Heike Drotbohm
University of Cologne and University of Freiburg

The workshop ‘Mobility within and to the Global South’ brought together scholars from different disciplines and with various regional specializations to discuss recent trends in international migration, namely, its reorientation towards new geographical destinations, as well as theoretical and methodological implications going along with these shifts. The workshop included senior and younger scholars working on a wide variety of migration, connecting Latin America, the Caribbean, the US, Europe, Africa and Asia. It reflected diverse epistemological and methodological approaches, with participants coming from various world areas and disciplinary backgrounds.

The workshop’s main goal was to foster exchange and discussion on conceptual issues related to studying 'Mobility within and to the Global South'. To this aim, we adopted a participatory and interdisciplinary workshop format. We decided to give priority to discussions and to forgo individual presentations by asking participants to prepare profile cards (a snapshot of participants’ main working areas, key steps in their academic career, and their most important publications) as well as personal statements in relation to the subject of the workshop. On the basis of these documents, we developed three themes that were tackled in the form of group discussions and subsequent presentations in the plenum: a) migration and citizenship regimes, b) migrant sociability and network, and c) methodologies, epistemologies and collaboration. For each theme 2-3 questions were formulated, so as to guide the discussions. This interactive format enabled us to come up with new insights, critical perspectives as well as inspirations for future research and collaborative projects.

The workshop opened with a public lecture/keynote by Bela Feldman-Bianco, in which she historicized and problematized mega-notions, such as ‘Global South’, ‘Global North’, ‘development’, and ‘post-colonialism’, and also highlighted the relevance of in-depth local-level research for the understanding of both global economic and political processes as well as migrants’ local and transnational practices. The rhetorical and conceptual usages of the term ‘Global South’ and their implications for policy and research were further discussed during the workshop. Participants came to understand that while it is essential to deconstruct mega-notions for research purposes, it is also vital to re-appropriate these terms as strategic/political tools in moments of grant-seeking, and more importantly, in view of newly emerging alliances among scholars and activists of the nation-states considered part of the so-called ‘Global South’. Moreover, on the basis of exchanging insights from our individual research projects, we realized a wide variety of practices and processes that undercut dichotomous distinctions between ‘North’ and ‘South’, and that can only be understood against the background of historically and spatially embedded research.

The workshop ended with an invitation to continue thinking and exchanging ideas about new trends in migration research, which is facilitated by a mailing list (list-mobilities@uni-koeln.de). Interested individuals are welcome to join us and contribute to on-going discussions on ‘Mobility within and to the Global South’.

Workshop participants: Tanja Bastia, Marina de Regt, Heike Drotbohm, Bela Feldman-Bianco, Laavanya Kahtiravelu, Olivia Kilias, Maggi Leung, Zhigang Li, Albert Manke, Anna-Maria Manz, Jonathan Ngeh, Michaela Pelican, Aranzazu Recalde, Tobias Schwarz, Brigitte Suter, Ida Vammen, Yang Zhou.


PAST EVENTS (AIG network before the merger)


Policymaking and implementation across state institutions, international organisations and transnational networks of civilsociety organisations are expanding fields of anthropological research. The complex positionalities that anthropologists adopt in these ethnographic contexts and their implications in epistemological, methodological and ethical terms are emerging as central issues in these fields. This workshop explores different and often controversial forms of anthropological engagement with global policy worlds and the dilemmas that collaboration entails against the background of a dominant neoliberal research agenda.

Whether emerging from intention, serendipity or necessity, researchers’ commitment to the explored policy fields and their complicity with research subjects are recurrent patterns in these ethnographic situations. As interns, consultants, advocates, representatives of governmental or non-governmental organisations, experts or temporary employees, researchers become actors in the processes that they are observing. This insider status affords key opportunities for exploring the creative friction that different policy regimes bring to global governance. Inside-track and first-hand experience also prevents simplistic essentialisation of “institutional cultures”. Yet taking on a position outside the comfort zone of the “hands-off” approach exhumes anthropology’s skeletons in the closet and generates pressing methodological anxieties, evidence of the difficult relation between action and knowledge production that characterises social sciences’ worldly interventions.

Belonging to the “epistemic community” that contributes to shaping the explored policy programmes provides scholars with the opportunity to impact social and political debate, yet it also radically challenges the founding anthropological assumption of a distinction between self and other and is therefore regarded as an obstacle to genuine critique. Furthermore, while collaborative anthropology in the exploration of the worlds of the marginal, dispossessed or dominated is appreciated as a form of social responsibility, working with powerful organisations is suspected for its multiple responsibilities to institutional or political interlocutors and to the groups that are affected by their intervention. Within this context ethnographic research raises numerous methodological, political and ethical dilemmas, especially when it is directly or indirectly supported by standard-setting organisations and policymaking institutions.

As social sciences come to grips with neoliberal research models, academics increasingly live with this uneasiness. Trained to formulate questions aimed at unpacking policy apparatuses, they are expected to provide answers to policy issues and contribute to governance objectives following managerial, rather than speculative, logics. In these contexts, scholars face the challenge of disseminating their research while being aware of their interlocutors’ negative perception of the analytical language they use to describe policy interventions. There are clearly no easy solutions to these conundrums. This workshop sets out to interrogate collaborative dilemmas by exploring the epistemological, ethical and methodological consequences of engagement, as well as of disengagement, with governmental agendas, international organisations, and other superseding institutions.


Session 1

Tuesday 12 April (14h00-18h00)
Discussant: Dominique Schnapper
Chiara Bortolotto (IIAC/LAHIC) Collaborative dilemmas: introduction
George Marcus (University of California, Irvine) Observations on Anthropologists Naviga ting Their Research Within the Global-Scaled Projects of Neoliberal Leviathans, Circa 2000-2010
Ruth Phillips (Carleton University) From 'Knowledge' to "Knowledges': Collaborative Research and Inter-Articulation i n Museums
Pascale Haag (IRIS, EHESS) Quand le faire et le dire vont ensemble – recherche et engagement

Session 2: Wednesday 13 April (9h30-13h00)
Kristin Kuutma (University of Tartu) Contemplating the field, the method and accountability in the world of organisations: UNESCO apparatus from within
Christoph Brumann (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology) Heritage believers, heritage atheists, and other scholars in research about the UNESCO World Heritage arena
Birgit Müller (CNRS, IIAC/LAIOS) Action research in the Committee on Food Security of the United Nations
Irène Bellier (CNRS, IIAC/LAIOS) Engaging collaborative anthropology with indigenous peoples

Session 3: Wednesday 13 April (14h00-18h00) Discussant: Antoine Bozio

Julie Billaud (Allegra Lab, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, International Committee of the Red Cross) The humanitarian ethnographer? On the methodological challenges and opportunities of researching the ICRC from within
Maria Sapignoli (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, O’Brien Fellow in Residence McGill University) Dilemmas, Insecurities, and Opportunities in Multi-Positioned Ethnography
Giulia Scalettaris (IIAC- LAUM) The International Organisation, Academia and the Researcher in the Making. Acts 1 and 2
Chirstian Hottin (ministère de la Culture et de la Communication) La fabrique de l’ethnologie du patrimoine : un regard de conservateur

Workshop: Studying Micro‐Practices in (International) Institutions: Chances and Limitations of Theory‐Building
Organisers: Alejandro Esguerra & Katja Freistein (Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University Duisburg‐Essen) & Stefan Groth (formerly Göttingen University/Centre for Global Cooperation Research)
7‐8 December, 2015 Place: Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research (University of Duisburg‐ Essen) in Duisburg (Germany)

The Centre will cover travel expenses and arrange accommodation.

Download more info PDf


The Network also sponsored an exiting panel this year: The changing landscape of the global political economy and foreign aid: has the Cold War ended?

Wenner GrenThe Anthropology of International Institutions: how ethnography contributes to understanding mechanisms of global governance, 2010
Wenner Gren Workshop, Convenor: Birgit Müller, IIAC-LAIOS

The Anthropology of International Institutions, 2009
Workshop at the Annual Conference American Anthropological Association 108th Annual Meeting . Convenor: Birgit Müller December 26, 2009 Philadelphia, PA. Read the panel proposal here.

The Anthropology of International Institutions, 2008
Exploratory Workshop of the European Science Foundation
Convenors: Birgit Müller (LAIOS/CNRS, Paris), Shalini Randeria (University of Zurich), Irène Bellier (LAIOS/CNRS), Christina Garsten (SCORE Stockholm University).