Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Legal Object Workshop 2017: How to apply

Kent Law School is pleased to offer up to 10 funded places to attend the first Legal Object Workshop at the British Museum (London) on Friday 10 March 2017 10:00 – 16:00.

The workshop is coordinated by Amanda Perry-Kessaris with Lisa Dickson, Luis Eslava, RoseParfitt and Sophie Vigneron who will be allocating the funded places by competitive selection based on applicants' object proposals (instructions below).

Preference will be given to doctoral and early career researchers.

During the workshop participants will present, discuss and reproduce an object in which they can identify significance for their legal research.

Following the workshop participants will produce an object commentary for online publication.

This event is part of the Legal Treasure Project at Kent Law School.

To apply for a funded place

1. Choose an item from the British Museum collection
·       check item ‘location’ to ensure it is currently on display at the British Mueseum
·       note the item URL
·       consider this legal object resource page

2. Answer the following questions on ONE A4 page 
[Helvetica 11 pt, 2 cm margins, include questions as headings]
·       What is your name, email address + affiliation?
·       What is your chosen item name + URL?
·       What is your current research question?
·       How could you use your chosen item to answer your current research question?
·       What research benefits / limitations might be associated with using museum collections in this way?

3. Submit by 17:00 GMT Monday 26 September 2016 to

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Model making for sociolegal research Part 1

In 2016 Kent Law School purchased a Lego set. Curious?

It is commonly reported that we remember just 10 percent of what we hear and 20 percent of what we read, but 80 percent of what we see and do; and that over 80 percent of the information we absorb is visual. 

We intend to use Lego to press ourselves to use that 80 percent. 

Let’s say I am facing a problem in my current research/administration/teaching project, and I want to get the advice of my colleagues. I can build a model for my colleagues of where my project is now, explaining what each piece represents and how it relates to the other pieces. The building process, including the selection of the pieces and where to put them, will force me to think very precisely about my project, but in terms that are still accessible to others. I learn new things about how my project fits together, and I offer a shared point of reference or vocabulary to my colleagues. After some discussion I might be in a position build another model that is closer to where I want my project to be. I may or may not actually get there. But we will all have used more of that 80 percent.

We initiated our Lego set in early July with a drop in session based around this worksheet, which proved to productive, albeit imperfect. 

Comments from participants suggested that the process was 'very useful because it made me think about planning my work in a completely different way, ie 3d and thus it was easier to see the blockages'; and 'creative and fun and oddly comforting' causing me to 'stand back and look at my work more objectively (from outside?). Perhaps that's why I found it calming.'

The contribution of KLS researcher Joanne Permian resulted in this, the first of a series of short films I am making to  demonstrate how 3D model making can facilitate thinking though, and sharing, complex projects and ideas:

Sociolegal model making 1 Decisions from Amanda Perry-Kessaris on Vimeo.

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Sociolegal objects: resources

99% Invisible archive Objects
RadioLab 'Things'
Zoe Laughlin, Co-Director of Institute of Making, The Things that Make Us

How to guides

UCL Teaching and Learning Portal Object-Based Learning Guides and Case Studies
Online collections and performances

British Museum (via Google Cultural Institute)
Osbourne, D Object-ivity

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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Externalise, materialise, confront: on the making of sociolegal worry beads Part 2

Preview: my sociolegal worries about funding and foreign-ness materialised and united
A field trip to Cyprus got me thinking about worry beads. I began wondering how they might be used by Cypriots to think about their emotions and worries associated with the past, present and future of Cyprus reunification talks. But realised that I ought to begin with what I know best: sociolegal research. 

Deeper and of longer standing are my worries about what it means to do research as a foreigner. Of course in many respects any researcher is always a foreigner, and I hope that this bead may have much to say about that. But my focus in making it was specifically on my 20+ year history as a British researcher in India, Sri Lanka and Cyprus. In each case I have had a relationship with the country that extends beyond the research, but I have never shaken the nagging sense of hit-and-run.
The making of my second bead, which would confront this question of foreign-ness was triggered by finding a Cyprus Airports duty free bag. The words on that bag, together with the image of the airplane taking off, made me think about how being foreign helps you to fulfil your duty to be free (independent) but also opens the risks of carelessness (free from duty).

The bag reminded me that while I was in Cyprus in June 2016 it was announced that the UK had voted by referendum to leave the EU. So the concept of leaving was on my mind when I filmed the taxi ride to the airport.

The shame and sadness of leaving was also on my mind as I stole this photo of the EU passport channel at Larnaca Airport.

So I filmed myself making a worry beads out of the bag, Fimo modelling clay and some other bits and pieces.

Then I made this film combining footage from the taxi trip with footage of the making of my second worry bead.

Sociolegal worry bead 2: Free of duty duty to be free from Amanda Perry-Kessaris on Vimeo.

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Saturday, July 09, 2016

Visualising sociolegal concepts using found images

This experiment was part of my research (funded by the Sociolegal Studies Association) into the use of graphic design by civil society actors in relation to econolegal aspects of the proposed reunification of Cyprus.

The aim was to try to generate visual representations for some of the key concepts that I came across during my reading (see references below).

Stage 1: I noted key concepts in pencil on the title page of each book I read, typed them up, printed them out, cut them into strips, dropped them on a counter and looked hard. This was an extremely valuable process. A key part of any research process is generating a conceptual vocabulary that brings together a new argument. This almost always requires a degree of translation. This experiment made the scope of that task very visible.

Stage 2: To keep thing as light touch and experimental as possible I restricted myself to using images found in image-heavy books in my house. These related to topics such as art, gardening, data visualisation. I leafed through the books and when something felt interesting and potentially relevant I photographed it, printed it and trimmed it. I also added in a few Cyprus materials.

Stage 3: Finally I started with the images and added concepts. Not all the concepts found a visual home. Some of the matches where partial (in the sense that the image pointed to part but not all of a concept).

The experiment was useful for the fact that it made me think deeply about each concept, hold it in  my hands and think about communicating it. All this having written only the words in the above pile. The benefits of having faced, albeit fleetingly, many of the conceptual complexities of this topic will surely be felt when I come to write about it at length.


'Cyprus Problem' or  Cypriot Puzzle:

  • Kerr-Lindsay (2016) Resolving Cyprus 
  • Kerr-Lindsay (2011) The Cyprus Problem: what everyone needs to know
  • Loizides (2016) Designing Peace: Cyprus and institutional innovation in divided societies 
  • Papadakis (2005) Echoes from the dead zone: across the Cyprus divide
  • Papadakis, Peristianis and Weltz eds (2006) Divided Cyprus: modernity, history and an island in conflict

Community, law and trust

  • Cooper (2014) Everyday utopias: the conceptual life of promising spaces
  • Cotterrell (1997) Law's community: legal theory in sociological perspective
  • Perry-Kessaris (2008) Global business, law as a communal resource in Indian investment climate relations
  • Normal (2005) Emotional design: why we love (or hate) everyday things

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Monday, July 04, 2016

Externalise, materialise, confront: on the making of sociolegal worry beads Part 1

Preview: my sociolegal worry externalised, materialised, confronted.

Norman (2005) Emotional design: why we love (or hate) everyday things got me thinking about worries as a focal point for sociolegal research, in particular in my current site of interest: Cyprus.

This image, one of a poignant series in Lasn/Adbusters (2012) Meme wars: the creative destruction of neoclassical economics, helped me to think about linking worry and wonder  in the past-present-future

Dunne and Raby (2013) Speculative everything: design, fiction and social dreaming got me thinking about making material my research into worry and wonder in the past-present-future regarding the possible Cyprus reunification. For example: using soil to think through, analytically and emotionally, some of the issues relating to property in any future settlement.

Arnovitz (2013) My worry beads focused my attention on worry beads: a secular method of self-calming indigenous to Cyprus.

But while I was waiting to interview anthropologist Yiannis Papadakis, author of Echoes from the dead zone, it struck me that I should begin with the worries with which I most familiar: those of a sociolegal researcher.
So I sketched a draft version before Yiannis arrived, and discussed it with him during the interview. 

My perpetual  'outsider' worry was reinforced by the presence of worry beads among the tourist paraphernalia of Larnaca airport. Touché.
My application for funds to cover Cyprus interview transcription costs triggered my first effort to materials the idea of sociolegal worry beads.

Cut up one application form

Soak in boiling water

Pummel until satisfied

Add small amount of flour (not sure really required) and some PVA glue 
Spread vaseline or similar on moulds

Shape. Impale


Seal with PVA glue

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