Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law

The Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law (NISL) seeks to explore law and law-related life by drawing on insights and researchers from various disciplines in law, the humanities and social sciences. It provides a platform for the regular exchange and development of ideas, primarily by holding regular research seminars on interdisciplinary subjects, with a broad range of attendees from members of the Law School, from other departments and schools in UNSW, and from other universities in Sydney and internationally.

Recent seminar presentations include:

  • Wojciech Sadurski (Challis Professor of Jurisprudence, University of Sydney) on his book Poland’s Constitutional Breakdown in conversation with Professor Rosalind Dixon, A/Professor Adam Czarnota and Professor Martin Krygier (UNSW Law) and Dr Michał Stambulski (Executive Director, Centre for Legal Education and Social Theory, University of Wrocław)  
  • Hans Lindahl (Professor of Legal Philosophy, Tilburg University, the Netherlands, Professor of Global Law, Law Department of Queen Mary University of London) on ‘Constituent Power and the Constitution’ 
  • Geoffrey Brahm Levey (A/Professor, Political Science, UNSW) on ‘The Bristol School of Multiculturalism’ in discussion with Tariq Modood (Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy and Foundation Director of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship, University of Bristol), Varun Uberoi (Senior Lecturer, Political Theory and Public Policy, Brunel University) and Tim Soutphommasane (Race Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission)
  • John Gardner (the late John Gardner FBA was a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, and Professor of Law and Philosophy, University of Oxford) on ‘From Personal Life to Private Law’ in conversation with Dr Michael Crawford (Lecturer, UNSW Law) 
  • Paul Schiff Berman (Walter S. Cox Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School) on ‘Cosmopolitan Pluralism, Authoritarian Nationalism, and the Future of Liberal Governance’ 
Projects
Contemporary populism and constitutional democracy

This ARC Discovery Project aims to explain and evaluate constitutional populism, or regimes that have come to power in a global wave of ‘populist’ parties challenging traditional ones. The project will identify, reconstruct, and evaluate legal and constitutional aims of, and institutional solutions adopted by, such regimes. It will examine whether they respect the forms of democracy, or just pay lip service to, for example, principles of the rule of law and constitutionalism, while working to subvert such principles. The project will focus on what ‘new populists’ do with power once they have it, what the consequences are for a global view of democracy, and on informing Australia’s geopolitical engagement with such regimes.

Members

Adam Czarnota, Associate Professor 

Martin Krygier, Professor

Professor Wojciech Sadurski (University of Sydney)

 

Legal education in central and eastern Europe

Legal education is part of the social process of reproduction. It is goal-oriented, modelling actors ready to play its professional roles. Transmission of knowledge is a value-oriented action, aiming to model perception of reality. This process aims to neutralise and therefore legitimise reality, in which future legal practitioners will operate. The official (overt) curricula need to be coordinated with the so-called ‘hidden curricula’. The notion of a hidden curriculum is based on the premise that the means of achieving the official goal of an educational process are as important as the goal itself and its justification.

The hidden curriculum in lawyers’ training guarantees the effectiveness of education, but is counterproductive in terms of its usefulness. Such training contradicts its official as well as political and philosophical claims. Thus, lawyers’ training, whose aim is to ‘shape’ socially desirable competencies, becomes dysfunctional and often achieves the opposite results.

In light of these problems, the project’s aim is to present the basic problems of legal education against the background of political changes in Central Eastern Europe after 1989.

Member

Adam Czarnota, Associate Professor 

Comparative constitutional law and politics

This project combines political science and legal-doctrinal research methods to study the politico-legal dynamics of constitutional judicial review, particularly in new democracies. Systems of constitutional judicial review, the project assumes, both draw on and influence societal ideas about the relationship between law and politics. Under certain conditions, these ideas can stabilise in the form of comprehensive legitimating ideologies about the appropriate law/politics relationship. This project draws on the political science field of comparative historical analysis (CHA) to examine these processes. It also seeks to reflect on contemporary debates within comparative constitutional law and politics about the feasibility of integrating law and social science.    

Member

Theunis Roux, Professor 

What is the point of the rule of law?

The rule of law is regarded as a, perhaps the, central legal value. However, conventional accounts of it have two pervasive limitations. First, while the idea is too important to reject or ignore, as thrown around in contemporary discussions, it is too confused and confusing to guide. If it is to be revived, it needs to be re-imagined. Secondly, it is too often regarded as a fundamentally legal ideal, to be approached in terms of lawyers’ understandings of the workings of legal orders.  

The argument of this project is that while the rule of law is indeed a legal ideal, it is equally a political and social ideal. Any attempt to achieve it must understand these political and social conditions, dimensions and consequences of the rule of law. It therefore needs to draw on insights that go well beyond those found in legal scholarship. It needs to reach out to disciplines that focus on society and politics as well as – since it is an ideal we are talking about – to philosophy, particularly political and social philosophy. 

Member

Martin Krygier, Professor

Network co-directors 

Adam Czarnota, Associate Professor 

Martin Krygier, Professor

Theunis Roux, Professor