Scales of Justice and Legal Pluralism

When do citizens prefer to use courts rather than the streets, or both together, instead of electoral participation to hold governments accountable? What mechanisms and fora are used by citizens to hold corporations and international institutions responsible? What is the role of civil society and of courts in redefining conceptions of the “public good” and of the “commons”? What new norms are set by civil society actors, for instance, in fields such as intellectual property, environmental justice or family law?

The research focus addresses the ambivalences of juridification, which entail growing legal activism and a judicialisation of politics from the local to the global scale.These developments are currently reshaping law, politics and policy, and redrawing their boundaries. Furthermore, they pose new challenges for democracy and the exercise of individual and collective citizenship rights. Realities of legal uncertainty and injustice under conditions of multi-scalar governance and legal pluralism but also the potential of creating new norms from “below”. It will involve an analysis of judicial protest and the quest for justice around redefinitions of the “public good” as well as the “commons”—issues that are matters of concern to citizens, civil society and courts alike.

The focus complements the research field of Democracy in Question (Ivan Krastev), intersects with the focus on International Law and Normativity (Milos Vec) and with that on History and Memory (Timothy Snyder).

Related Projects:

Further reading:

‘Keeping Seeds in Our Hands’: the Rise of Seed Activism (with Karine Peschard), In: The Journal of Peasant Studies, DOI, 2020. 

Taking Monsanto to Court: Legal Activism Around Intellectual Property in Brazil and India (with Karine Peschard), in: The Journal of Peasant Studies, DOI, 2020. 

(based on the ‘Wiener Vorlesung’: Entrechtung und Verrechtlichung: Entpolitisierung der Demokratie?, March 3, 2015)

Entrechtung & Verrechtlichung: Entpolitisierung der Demokratie? in: IWMpost 115, 2015.

Entrechtung und Verrechtlichung: Entpolitisierung der Demokratie? in: Tranist – Europäische Revue, 46, 2015.

Head of Program

Former Fellows & Guests