Law Text Culture


This essay addresses two related questions. Each asks, in different ways, to what extent might we know law by the company that it doesn't keep? The first, given the theme of this special issue, concerns the comparative underdevelopment of interdisciplinary work involving legal scholarship and (critical) human geography. The second, raised, in part, in response to the first, concerns a more fundamental tendency in legal thought and practice to constitute the domain of the legal in opposition to physicality. Clearly, theoretical stipulations of the domain of the specifically legal have frequently been founded on its asserted contrasts with, say, politics, morality or society. Often, to theorize the legal is to draw boundaries around it, to mark its limits, to distinguish the interior of law from the extra-legal. (Davies 1996) To undertake this sort of operation is to create a conceptual or analytical distance between 'law, properly speaking,' and its mere contexts, or the ground against which law emerges as a figure. As critical scholars long ago demonstrated and now simply assume, the hows and whys of these moves may tell us a great deal about law as putative object of inquiry and about jurisprudence as internal border patrol and supervisor of legal identity. (Hutchinson 1988; Kerruish 1991) In many ways, then, we may know law most intimately by what it renounces, repudiates, ignores or denies.