Legal geography is a stream of scholarship that takes the interconnections between law and spatiality, and especially their reciprocal construction, as core objects of inquiry. Legal geographers contend that in the world of lived social relations and experience, aspects of the social that are analytically identified as either legal or spatial are conjoined and co-constituted. The legal geography scholarship highlights that nearly every aspect of law is either located, takes place, is in motion, or has some spatial frame of reference. In other words, law is always “worlded” in some way. Likewise, every bit of social space, lived places, and landscapes are inscribed with legal significance. Distinctively legal forms of meaning are projected onto every segment of the physical world. These meanings are open to interpretation and may become involved in a range of legal practices. Such fragments of a socially segmented world — the where of law — are not simply the inert sites of law, but are inextricably implicated in how law happens.
This introduction to the forthcoming book The Expanding Spaces of Law: A Timely Legal Geography (Stanford University Press) identifies and elaborates on three modes of legal geographic research. The first mode of legal geography includes disciplinary work in law or in geography that is modeled on the conventional image of import and export. The second is an interdisciplinary pursuit in which scholars in the eponymous fields draw on the work of each other and seek to contribute to the development of a common project. The third mode moves beyond legal geography to trans-disciplinary, or perhaps even post-disciplinary, modes of scholarship. Although these three modes exist concurrently, the general trajectory over time has been from disciplinary to interdisciplinary and, finally, to post-disciplinary orientations. This triadic classification helps organize the rich yet eclectic legal geography scholarship that has evolved over the last thirty years or so. While this introduction contains elements of each mode, it also urges interested scholars to move legal geography beyond the disciplinary boundaries into the horizons of a post-legal geography. Ironically, then, the ultimate success of legal geography will be in its ability to transcend the bi-disciplinary focus that has characterized so much of this scholarship up to this point.
In addition to the introduction, the book consists of ten chapters. In the first three, Keebet and the late Franz von Benda-Beckmann, Mariana Valverde, and Nicholas Blomley identify gaps and obstacles in existing approaches to legal geography scholarship and offer remedies. An important sub-theme in each of these chapters is the importance of being more mindful of the temporalities of social, spatial, and legal phenomena. Authored by Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar and Irus Braverman, the next two chapters ask how a critical comparative legal geography might not only draw upon but also contribute to a rejuvenated project of comparative law and the methodological stakes of legal geography scholarship. The remaining five chapters expand legal geography into new spaces and make new connections. Specifically, Michael Smith, Antonio Azuela and Rodrigo Meneses, Lisa Pruitt, Melinda Benson, and David Delaney develop novel interpretive resources with the aim of enhancing interdisciplinarity, applying these tools to particular kinds of spaces and places: war zones, the street, the workplace, American rurality, and procedural spaces.