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MAY 31

Ways of Knowing: Epistemology & Law

by The Westminster Law and Theory Lab in association with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London

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Announcement and Call for Papers
One-day International Conference
School of Law, University of Westminster, London, in
association with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies,
University of London

31 May 2018


Admission by ticket only.

Westminster staff and students: Free

Non-Westminster delegates (Full price): £89.00

Non-Westminster delegates (Student): £35.00

Unwaged delegates: £35.00

Proof of status will be required at registration.

Please use the link below to book tickets:


Invited speakers

Professor Maria Drakopoulou, University of Kent

Professor Peter Goodrich, Cardozo Law School

Professor Anna Grear, Cardiff University

Professor Geoffrey Samuel, University of Kent

Professor Boaventura de Sousa Santos, University of Coimbra

Purpose and Context

The Conference will provide a forum for presentations and discussion on the place, significance, and further potential of epistemology within socio-legal studies.

There has been little exploration of epistemology in legal scholarship generally, including in journal and book publications – with some notable exceptions. There are infrequent and sporadic references to epistemology in socio-legal studies.

Epistemology, the branch of philosophy concerned with what is knowledge and how it is accessed (which includes, typically, topics such as fact, truth, evidence, justification, and memory) might seem, to some, removed from the social concerns of socio-legal studies. Such a view is misplaced: epistemology deserves greater attention in the field. The infrequent and sporadic attention that epistemology has received in socio-legal studies belies its importance in informing the understanding of well-established concepts in legal studies, such as legal personhood, legal consciousness and agency, and issues of obedience and resistance.

Epistemology complements theory. As Powell observes: ‘If theory provides intellectual frameworks for establishing and evaluating factual claims and relating them to one another, epistemology provides frameworks for constructing, evaluating, and organizing theoretical claims’. It is also widely recognised, typically outside legal research, that epistemology bears upon methods. Important, too, is the role of praxis in knowledge production, and its relationship to epistemology.

There remains a need for socio-legal counterpoints to traditional formalist accounts of law that eschew the social dimensions of knowledge. Recent political shifts globally underline the importance of analysing epistemology with especial reference to race, class and other historically subordinated or vulnerable epistemic communities.


The Conference will seek to address a range of questions/ issues, including:

i. How has epistemology informed legal studies?

ii. How might diverse approaches to epistemology be understood collectively in relation to their contribution to socio-legal studies?

iii. What continuing relevance, if anything, can epistemology have for socio-legal studies?

iv. How should the concept of epistemology be understood in respect of, and if necessary distinguished from, broader concepts such as knowledge construction?

v. How specifically can epistemology inform socio-legal theory, methods and praxis?

Welcoming your contribution

We welcome all contributors, especially from doctoral, emerging, and early-career scholars, to submit papers for presentation in parallel sessions (estimated: three in number, each comprising three papers). These sessions will seek to build the capacity of doctoral, emerging, and early-career scholars by pairing those scholars with established Chairs and by inviting the day’s invited speakers as discussants to the papers.

Abstract guidelines

Up to 300 words. Add title & contact details. Email by 26 February 2018: Dermot.Feenan@sas.ac.uk.

Programme & booking

Preliminary programme available here on or about 28 February. Cost: £89 (Full)/ £35 (Student/Unwaged).

Academic co-ordinators

Dermot Feenan, Associate Research Fellow, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

Professor Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, University of Westminster


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Thu, May 31, 2018

9:45 AM – 5:30 PM BST

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University of Westminster

4-12 Little Titchfield St




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The Westminster Law and Theory Lab


Co-organizer of Ways of Knowing: Epistemology & Law

The Westminster Law and Theory Lab brings together diverse yet overlapping strands in the study of law in its transnational, regional or international manifestation, with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinarity and critical theoretical analysis.

The focus of Lab activities is firmly on the link between the applied and the theoretical. The Lab seeks to facilitate common scholarly activities and projects, thus acting as a bridge between the applied and the theoretical, and providing a supportive context within which radical new research can flourish.

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies


The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies is a national resource for legal researchers supporting and facilitating research students at universities across the UK and in the University of London.

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