Irus Braverman

Animals and the Law

So far, scholars have relegated the legal investigation of nonhuman life, and of animals in particular, to liberal discourse of animal rights. Within this discourse, legal rights extend to certain nonhuman animals through the same framework that has afforded human rights before it. This interdisciplinary seminar will problematize such approaches and will propose a new topic of inquiry: animals and the law. It will urge students from a variety of disciplinary orientations to explore existing law's relation to the question of the animal and to envision what legal frameworks that move beyond the humanist perspective might look like. The seminar will open up neglected questions that speak to the definition of what, in legal terms, it means to be classified as human or animal, and what are the ethical, aesthetical, and political concerns that emerge in the project of governing not only human but also animal life. We will draw on posthumanist scholarship-and especially on science and technology studies, biopolitics, politics of nature, animal geographies, and multispecies ethnography-to consider the role of law in living with animals, and the role of animals in living with law. The seminar will also discuss particular laws, court cases, and regulations practiced in the context of the zoo and the wild.

Topics in Criminal Procedure

What is criminal procedure? How has it evolved, substantively and historically? How does it differ from civil procedure, and how does criminal procedure in general differ from non-procedural criminal law? First, the course tackles some of these historical and conceptual topics. Secondly, the course focuses on police conduct, examining the legal restrictions on such conduct and the implications of 9/11 in this context. Finally, the course examines how legal systems elsewhere manage and regulate police powers. The course includes a field study component, and previous courses have visited the Buffalo Police Department and Buffalo criminal court.

U.S. Customs & Immigration Enforcement Agent Makes an Arrest

Law, Space, Power

Rules, cases, regulations -- or, in general: the law -- does not exist only in the abstract but has a certain place, a certain location, a certain materiality. This seminar asks: where is the law? What is the relationship between law and space, and how does space affect the law? The law can be in the physical books, in the minds of judges, in the body of the murderer and in the house that is a person's property. The law also materializes on different scales: it is on the street, in the city, and in the nation-state, but it is also international and global; it is even in outer-space. One way or the other, law is some thing and some where, it is physical. The seminar introduces students to the major writings in law and spatiality within the emerging field of legal geography. It then focuses on several specific spaces and their relationship with the law: washrooms, nature reserves and parks, airports, outer-space, and border checkpoints. Previous seminars have included field studies of Reuse (a non-profit organization working in Buffalo's Westside), the Buffalo Zoo, and the Erie County Correctional Facility.

Qalandia Checkpoint, Israel/Palestine
by Irus Braverman

Notice to wash hands in Buffalo Children's Zoo
by Irus Braverman

Law and Nature

This seminar is not about animal or tree rights or even about the right to nature. It is also not a seminar on global warming or about how law must come to grips with environmental concerns. It is, instead, a series of reflections on what we mean when we say the word "nature" and an exploration of law's relationships to such nature(s). It is also about the place of urban life in our understandings of nature; on animal/human relations in contemporary societies; and on how interpretations of nature are facilitated through particular sites such as the zoo and national parks. But more than anything else, this seminar is about power. Specifically, it is about how nature is used to obscure ideological stances. The seminar, in other words, is a critical evaluation of nature and of its powerful workings in contemporary American (and a few other) societies.

The seminar includes an analysis of various ecological approaches as well as discussions on the idea of wilderness and the American frontier, landscapes of power, city landscapes, animal-human relations, and green imperialism. Case studies include visits to local sites such as the Buffalo Zoo as well as explorations of various geographies, for example the Californian landscape and tree landscapes in Israel/Palestine.

This is an interdisciplinary seminar. The seminar is aimed at creating a stimulating and engaging learning environment that invites students to enter into a meaningful dialogue with themselves and with each other. The seminar consists of assigned readings, group discussions, student presentations, lectures, video presentations, and fieldtrips. Previous seminars have toured the Niagara River with Professor Lynda Schneekloth from Architecture and the Buffalo Zoo with zoo director Dr. Donna Fernandes.

Animal Signs in NYC
by Mai Le

Baldy Center Lecture

Impact of War on Israeli Forests -
from JNF Newspaper

Criminal Procedure

This course in Criminal Procedure explores the role of the police and other investigative authorities that operate within the American legal system. The casebook for the course is titled "Criminal Procedures" -- in plural. This reflects an important aspect of the American criminal justice system: that, in fact, there are many different criminal justice systems, with many different kinds of rule-makers and laws at work.

The course starts by examining the relationship between citizens and police where the police are there to help citizens and communities, without the tension and focus involved with stops, observations, searches, investigations and interrogations that make up the bulk of this course. Since most police-citizen interactions occur outside of the formal and controlled setting of the courthouse, and often outside of the relatively controlled setting of the police station or the lawyer's office, the course asks what kinds of rules and institutions, if any, would produce optimal police practices. The course ends after a suspect has been arrested, identified, and interrogated.

Federal Courthouse in Buffalo, NY

Construction project sign for Courthouse

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