Irus Braverman

Critical Legal Geography

Checkpoint Habik'a separates Israel and Area A of the Occupied Territories. Jordan on left (east). The sign reads: "Welcome to Checkpoint Habik'a. Crossing for Israelis Only " (the definition of Israelis appears below). Photo by Irus Braverman Photo by Irus Braverman. It is time that critical legal geographers contend with the nonhuman world. Photo by Irus Braverman. Signs as statements of identity. Window in Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem. Photo by Irus Braverman. Photo by Randy Haaga, 'Street Signs'. Flickr:

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I have always been fascinated with the relationship between law and matter, both broadly understood. This fascination threads through my work, from my initial study of illegal spaces in East Jerusalem until my current project on nature conservation sites. The Expanding Spaces of Law: A Timely Legal Geography, co-edited by myself, Nicholas Blomley, David Delaney, and Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar (forthcoming, Stanford University Press) offers a collection of innovative chapters that seek to expand the reach of legal geography by opening this project up to new perspectives, new problematics, new topics and, crucially, new voices. The contributors include both recognized and emerging scholars whose home disciplines are legal studies, geography, sociology, and anthropology and whose primary commitment is to deepening interdisciplinary modes of social inquiry.

The book's introduction presents a thorough overview of the project from its inception in the 1980s, through its bridge-building phase in the 1990s, to the more pluralistic, trans-disciplinary work of the 21st century, suggesting directions for future research. Substantive chapters include sophisticated critiques of the concepts of time and temporality that inform conventional approaches to legal space; the utility of pragmatism, ethnomethodology, comparative law and attention to procedural law; and spatio-legal studies of the military, street vending, rurality, and governing through the emotions at work.

My contribution to the volume, "Who's Afraid of Methodology? Advocating a Reflexive Turn in Legal Geography," proposes an inward expansion of legal geography; a reflection on how we come to write what we write rather than where, when, and why we do so. Such greater awareness to the craftsmanship of our scholarship, I argue, will pay off in a range of ways and, most importantly, by increasing our methodological diversity and interdisciplinarity. The chapter reflects on the pitfalls and virtues of zoo ethnography as a way to invite legal geographers to explore how they craft their own research. The chapter argues that because of our unique training in the intersections of law and geography, we are well equipped to explore the powers of various administrative structures. Institutional and administrative ethnographies should thus take on the important role that they deserve in our tradition.


(2015). "More-than-Human Legalities." In Patricia Ewick and Austin Sarat (eds.), The Wiley Handbook of Law and Society (forthcoming, Wiley Press).

(2014). The Expanding Spaces of Law: A Timely Legal Geography, Irus Braverman, Nicholas Blomley, David Delaney & Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar (eds.) (Stanford University Press). [SSRN]

(2014). "Who's Afraid of Methodology? Advocating a Reflective Turn in Legal Geography," In The Expanding Spaces of Law: A Timely Legal Geography, Irus Braverman, Nicholas Blomley, David Delaney & Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar (eds.) (Stanford University Press). [SSRH]

(2011). "Hidden in Plain View: Legal Geography from a Visual Perspective." Journal of Law, Culture, and the Humanities 7(2): 173-186.