Law and space are intertwined all around us in ways that powerfully–and often subtly–shape our lived experience.
Laws create geographies. In the United States, urban geographies have been shaped by redlining, the practice of refusing to grant federally-insured loans to people living in predominantly Black neighborhoods. In Europe, border enforcement policies attempt to prevent refugees from reaching EU soil where they could file asylum claims. Around the world, Indigenous peoples contest their rights to land and water as climate change threatens their territories.
At the level of the everyday, laws restrict where people are allowed to skateboard, where people are permitted to protest (so-called “free speech zones”), and even how long one’s grass must be kept. These routine restrictions do not always draw critical attention, even as they reshape the relations between the operations of law and the messy reality of lived experience.
While laws create geographies, they are also shaped by the conceptions of space and place of their makers. As they write law, enforce it, or rule upon it, Judges, police officers, and legislators are deeply entangled in their own relationships, worldviews, and assumptions that shape what counts as legalized and illegalized social practices. As a result, law contains implicit–often uninvestigated–theories of society and space.
Legal geographers investigate these complex questions about how law shapes space, and how space shapes law. From police officers’ strategic use of space to justify traffic stops and make arrests to the ways in which debates over gender and sexuality become fought on the terrain of access to bathroom space, legal geography provides a unique interdisciplinary perspective on the most important issues of our time.
Despite a productive tradition of research and publications, legal geography does not have a dedicated academic journal. Many graduate students and scholars whose work intersects with legal geography find themselves adrift in the literature because there is no designated public forum for discussing issues in legal geography, sharing new research, developing dissertation reading lists, popularizing legal geography scholarship, or to find advisors and collaborators.
In that gap, the Law & Space (un)Journal emerges as an exciting new hub for legal geography. Law & Space operates through an informal web-based journal model that ensures quality through editors and advisors that are leading academics in the field while emphasizing accessibility and timeliness to the benefit of a wide variety of academic and non-academic readers. Through short original research articles, book and article reviews, profiles, conference information, and the opportunity for non-traditional contributions, Law & Space aims to incubate a new generation of scholars and re-invigorate legal geography for years to come.
The Law & Space (un)Journal is a shared project among many legal geographers and existing disciplinary group. If you are passionate about questions of law and space, Law & Space (un)Journal is for you.