Call for papers: stream on “Crisis of the Rule of Law” at the Critical Legal Conference 2016


University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
1-3 September 2016


A Crisis of the Liberal Vision
of the Rule of Law
and Fundamental Rights?
Turning Points in the East and West

Stream organisers:
Adam Sulikowski (University of Wrocław), Rafał Ma
ńko (University of Amsterdam),
Jakub Łakomy (University of Wrocław) and Konrad Kobyli
ński (University of Silesia)


Deadline: 1 July 2016

The political events of recent years, both in Central-Eastern and Western Europe, some of which can certainly be described as ‘turning points’, provide an impulse to analyse the crisis of the liberal visions of ‘rule of law’ and ‘fundamental rights’. What we consider of particular importance, is the growth of the political significance of parties and groups described sometimes as ‘populist’, and the challenges which follow therefrom for well-grounded conceptions of the rule of law. We also consider it necessary to analyse the role (neo-)liberal ideology, including its legal variant, in the process of marginsalisation of the social classes and groups which have made attempts at regaining political subjectivity and empowerment by supporting political parties described as populist.

We would like invite efforts to apply the concept of the political (as opposed to the concepts of ‘politics’ and ‘policies’) to the activity of constitutional courts which, whilst officially perceiving themselves as the exclusive guardians of the constitution, often conceal the influence of political views on their decision-making process. We think that adequate tools, allowing to diagnose the crisis of the liberal vision of rule of law and fundamental rights, can be provided by critical legal theory, inspired by the classical school of CLS, as well as its contemporary continuations in the UK and on the Continent, including in Central Europe. Of particular importance is the combination of critical legal studies with an agonistic philosophy of politics (C. Mouffe). Liberal visions of law as a neutral forum for conflict resolution and of constitutional courts as apolitical arbitrators can be opposed to an agonistic vision of society, which underlines the unalienable dimension of conflict, which is at the root of the social bond (C. Mouffe, E. Laclau, S. Žižek).

Another area which papers submitted to the stream are invited to explore is the impact of a neoliberal understanding of politics as post-political governance upon the narrowing down of the spectrum of ideas accepted by the mainstream, which, after a certain time, leads to an inevitable eruption of the so-called populist moves (C. Mouffe, E. Laclau) which can rightly be described as turning points in the on-going crisis of the liberal vision. We assume that certain choices on the level of political theory (regarding the understanding of the concept of the political) have their consequences in the sphere of political practice, and therefore pre-determine the scope of actual choice. Not only law is entangled in the political, but also politics impact upon legal theory and practice, as evidenced by the phenomenon of ‘rightist crits’ in Central Europe.

The following topics could be particularly worth exploring, but the list is purely indicative:

  • The liberal vision of rule of law and fundamental rights in the light of critical legal theory
  • Constitutional courts and the political
  • The political dimension of legal interpretation and its consequences on choices of interpretive methods
  • The role and significance of political motivations in the activity of courts
  • The so-called populist political movements in the East and West of Europe – similarities and differences
  • ‘Rightist crits’, i.e. the use of methods of critical legal theory in nationalist and conservative legal discourse
  • Social groups marginalised by neoliberal ideology and (alternative) perspectives for their emancipation.


Please send abstracts of 250-300 words to:



Call for papers for Critical Legal Conference 2015 is now open

The call for papers for the Critical Legal Conference 2015 (Wrocław, 3-5 September 2015) opens now and will remain open until 30 June 2015. Please submit your papers directly to the convenors of individual streams. This year, there are 24 streams to choose from, including one General Stream in English and one General Stream in Polish for those whose papers do not fit into any specific stream.

A PDF version of the call for papers in downloadable here: CLC-2015-Call-for-papers

The call will appear in the coming days on the official CLC 2015 website: so stay tuned!

Call for papers | 2nd International Workshop on Law and Ideology (Sarajevo, 28-29 May)

2nd International Workshop on Law and Ideology


Memories of Struggles, Struggles of Memories



28-29 May 2015

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Call for Papers (deadline: 15 February 2015)


In his L’histoire comme champ de bataille Enzo Traverso points out that memory as a socially relevant phenomenon appeared widely after 1989. The fall of the Soviet empire and the ensuing defragmentation of the world led to a situation in which a multitude of recollections, hitherto retained only in private, could enter the public space. Social memory became an element of identity and simultaneously an instrument of politics, increasingly encroaching upon the domain of legal discourse. This happens not only in the form of preambles to various legal acts, in particular constitutions, but also in the form of special state institutions charged with cataloguing the past and making it legally accountable.

According to Maurice Halbwachs, any individual memory functions exclusively in a certain environment and social group. The aim of this Workshop is to explore the relationship between collective memory and legal discourse. In particular, we are interested in the antagonistic, traumatic and political dimension of collective memory. This is because social memory above all records recollections of struggles: wars, revolutions, exclusion, repression, colonization and genocide.

Psychoanalysis teaches us that trauma appears in a moment in which an event cannot be simply included within the symbolic order. This leads to the emergence of a gap which cannot be overcome. Memory can then become an emancipatory tool, a motivation and mobilisation for rebuilding the entire political and social order. However, memory can also be appropriated and become a tool of ideological legitimisation of those in power. Furthermore, especially following a transformation (e.g. from actually existing socialism to democracy and a market economy), society (including the legal community) may develop a tendency to repress the past, either denying completely its legality or dismissing it as a ‘blackout’ or ‘legal black hole’. However, the traumatic past and the involvement of the legal community in it returns in the form of symptoms which, as Žižek characterizes them, are ‘a point of breakdown heterogeneous to a given ideological field and at the same time necessary for that field to achieve its closure, its accomplished form’. The traumatic past of actually existing socialism is, therefore, simultaneously repressed and necessary, impure and inalienable, dirty and indispensable.

Memory is not something constant and immutable. To the contrary, it is subject to reinterpretation and is necessarily linked with the future. As Walter Benjamin pointed out, ‘memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred’. Memory remains within a dialectical relationship with forgetting. The latter should not be confused with repression, that is a purposeful attempt to remove a traumatic experience from the scope of remembering. Forgetting is a process which occurs over time, obscuring the origin of legal institutions, especially their foreign origin as legal transfers or their accidental appearance as a result of a temporary conjecture.

Methodologically relationships between collective memory and legal discourse can be analysed either following a genealogical or structuralist approach. The first perspective focuses on the events which led to the emergence of given legal institutions. What victories do they embody and what failures are disavowed. In other words, how does social memory impact the legal discourse. The second, structuralist perspective, focuses on the productive aspect of law. It describes how the legal discourse, by resorting to appropriate institutions, imposes upon the legal subjects a certain vision of the past, in other words, how does the legal discourse shape memory. The genealogical and structural perspectives are neither disjunctive nor exhaustive. Between them, there is plenty of space for critical legal theory, critical discourse analysis, psychoanalysis, Marxism or history of ideas.

Possible topics that might be explored by workshop participants include, but are not limited to the following:

  • coming to terms with memories of conflicts in a transitional justice perspective,
  • state-sponsored institutions dealing with accountability for the past in the former Soviet bloc (‘instititutes of national memory’ and the like)
  • lustration, decommunisation and other forms of remembering the authoritarian past
  • memory and utopia,
  • mythopoesis of law,
  • memory as an instrument of identity politics,
  • the place of legal history in legal education and legal argumentation,
  • idealised visions of the past embodied in legal proxemics and legal rhetoric,
  • use of criminal law to impose a certain vision of collective memory, criminalisation of attempts to recount an alternative vision of the past,
  • (disappearing) memory of legal transfers which, after some time, begin to be considered as natural and domesticated,
  • the role of precedent, especially dated, in legal argumentation
  • visions of national past in constitutional preambles and their practical role in constituitonal adjudication,
  • admissibility of arguments based on travaux préparatoires and previous legal practice in legal argumentation.





Submission of abstracts

Abstracts of 300 words should be submitted to by 15 February 2015. The conveners will inform about the acceptance of abstracts on 1 March 2015. Participants will be requested to submitted working drafts (2,000 – 5,000 words) by 1 May 2015. Following the Workshop, selected participants will be invited to submit full papers to an edited volume which will appear with a respected academic publisher.


Workshop conveners

Samir Forić, University of Sarajevo (

Rafał Mańko, University of Amsterdam (

Michał Stambulski, University of Wrocław (


The 2nd International Workshop on Law and Ideology is jointly co-organised by the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the Centre for Legal Education and Social Theory of the Faculty of Law, Administration and Economics of the University of Wrocław (Poland) with the generous support of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Sarajevo.


Publication of proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Law and Ideology

Dear participants of the 1st International Workshop on Law and Ideology (Wrocław, 29-30 May 2014)!

The proceedings of the Workshop shall be published in a special edition of the “Wrocław Review of Law, Administration and Economics”. It is a peer-reviewed journal, which is available in open access online. See website:

The editors of the special edition are now finalising the editorial review of 9 papers which have been submitted. Authors will be asked, if needed, to implement changes by the end of December. Thereupon the papers will be submitted to anonymous peer-review and, if positive, published in the “Wrocław Review” at the beginning of 2015.

Call for Papers | “25 YEARS AFTER THE TRANSFORMATION: Law and Legal Culture in Central and Eastern Europe Between Continuity and Discontinuity”

Brno-picture25 YEARS AFTER THE TRANSFORMATION: Law and Legal Culture in Central and Eastern Europe Between Continuity and Discontinuity

Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic), 16-17.4.2015
in cooperation with the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty in Wrocław


Deadline: 31 December 2014

Quarter of a century ago, at the turn of 1989 and 1990, Central and Eastern Europe – then known as the ‘Soviet bloc’ – experienced an unprecedented socio-economic and political transformation. The hitherto existing system, known as ‘Actually Existing Socialism’, crumbled, and countries of the region started a transition towards a capitalist market economy and a political democracy.

The aim of the conference is to focus on the socio-legal aspects of the transformation. Whilst some areas, such as lustration and transitional justice, have been already thoroughly researched, others such as the impact of transformation upon private law, procedural law or general administrative law still remain to be analysed in more detail. In particular, an aspect which is generally neglected in contemporary scholarship are so-called ‘legal survivals’ of the socialist period, that is those legal institutions which have not been removed after transformation but still remain in place. Furthermore, some scholars argue that there is a strong continuity in legal culture, such as attitudes of judges and scholars to legal interpretation or generally held views on the place of law in society. Our aim is to invite a broad outlook upon the socio-legal aspects of transformation, including the role of law in the transformation of social conciousness, the construction of collective identities and the framing of social dialogue.

Specific topics that we encourage speakers to explore include the following:

  • continuity of statehood both in domestic (constitutional) law and in international law (e.g. with regard to treaties, debts, etc.);
  • the impact of transformation upon legal culture (with a particular focus on the continuity of legal culture despite the political and socio-economic changes);
  • continuity of legal institutions introduced during the socialist period in various areas of the law (with a particular focus on the adaptation of those institutions to the new socio-economic and political order);
  • continuity and discontinuity of the judiciary and legal profession (with a focus not only on lustration, but also the system of appointment of judges, corporate culture of the judiciary and the legal profession);
  • continuity and discontinuity of legal education;
  • role of law in the transformation of collective identities.

Confirmed keynote speakers include:

  • Prof. Adam Czarnota, Director of Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law
  • Prof. Leszek Koczanowicz, University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Wrocław
  • Judge Prof. Zdeněk Kühn, Supreme Administrative Court of the Czech Republic
  • Prof. Adam Sulikowski, University of Wrocław and University of Opole

  • Abstracts of no more than 300 words should be sent to no later than by 31 December 2014.
  • The conveners will communicate the acceptance of abstracts by 15 January 2015. Participants will be expected to submit a preliminary draft of their paper (about 5,000 words) by 15 March 2015.
  • The conference fee will amount to € 100 (standard fee)/€ 50 (reduced fee for PhD candidates and postgraduate students) and will be payable by 15 March 2015.
  • Selected papers, following a peer-review process, will be published in book form with a reputable publisher. More details will be communicated at the conference.


Organising commitee:

Martin Škop (Masaryk University), Leszek Koczanowicz (University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty in Wrocław), Radim Polčák (Masaryk University), Rafał Mańko (University of Amsterdam), Markéta Klusoňová (Masaryk University)

Call for Streams: Law, Space and the Political (deadline: 31/3/2015)

CLC_logoThe next Critical Legal Conference will be hosted, for the first time in history, by a Central European academic institution – the University of Wrocław in south-western Poland (close to the Czech and German border, in the region of Lower Silesia).

The topic chosen by the hosts of CLC 2015 is LAW, SPACE AND THE POLITICAL. As always, the organisation of the CLC is two-staged. In the first stage, persons wishing to submit a stream must contact the organisers directly. The email is Streams may be submitted until 31 March 2015. Usually a stream is submitted by one or two academics. The streams should interpret in some way the main theme of the CLC.

At a second stage, scholars wishing to present papers must submit them directly to the stream organisers. A call for papers, announcing all the streams, will therefore be published on 15 April 2015, and there will be time until the end of May to submit individual papers.

Once the entire programme of the conference is put together, registration will open – on 15 June 2015. The organisers have already stressed that the fees will be much lower than last year, and special reductions will apply for PhD candidates and students. Furthermore, there will be an additional reduction for early registrations (until the end of June – during the first two weeks).

Official website of Critical Legal Conference 2015:

Official email of CLC 2015: