UVic Graduate Student Law & Society Research Group Publications

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    Animals as Property, Quasi-Property or Quasi-Person
    (2024-01-22) Fernández, Angela
    The field of animal law has been structured for the last twenty-five years around two key paradigms: (i) property v. persons and (ii) rights v. welfare. In this talk, Professor Fernández explains why both of these binaries are unhelpful traps for the field and why she thinks we need to move towards a more flexible legal status for nonhuman animals, which she terms quasi-property/quasi-personhood. In the quasi-hood approach to the legal status of nonhuman animals, nonhuman animals are more than mere property but they are also persons of a sort, legal persons, because they have legal rights, and only legal persons have legal rights.
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    Repairing our Relationship with Rivers: Water Law and Legal Personhood
    (2023-12-11) O'Donnell, Erin
    Since 2017, rivers around the world have experienced a profound transformation in law: they have become legal persons, legal subjects, living persons, and/or living entities. This alchemical transfiguration from legal object to legal subject renders the river uniquely visible, and legible, to the law in ways it has not been before, and often brings with it new legal rights and powers. In this presentation, I ask what this transformation means for water law, and what the implications are for established water law frameworks. To date, the impact on water law has been relatively minor: new river persons have never yet received any legal rights to the water flowing between their banks. But their existence challenges the foundational assumption of Western water law: that water is merely a resource, capable of exploitation for human consumption. These new river entities demonstrate the power of law as a mode of repair, and create an opportunity to repair and restore our relationship with rivers. So far, water law has maintained its distance from this emerging transnational concept, but this position is becoming increasingly untenable. When a river is a living entity, or a legal person, the question for all water scholars and practitioners becomes: what does it mean to be in good relations with the river?
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    Legal Personhood and Power: Seeing Mechanisms of Devaluation and Hyper-Empowerment in Legal Systems
    (2023-11-20) Hansen, Robin
    Legal personhood can be understood as the capacity for holding rights and obligations within a legal system, including the ability to make claims and seek remedies in law. Using a systems theory approach (developed by Niklas Luhmann) to understanding law as a series of communications concerning what is "legal" and what is "illegal", I trace examples of how assumptions and constructions in legal communications implicitly strip some human beings of their rights to full personhood at law. The converse is also evident, namely examples of hyper-empowerment, whereby actors in law have the capacity for claims to rights that far exceed their exposure to also holding obligations at law.
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    Memory between Law and Politics
    (2023-11-20) Sadowski, Mirosław Michał
    How can law influence collective memory? What mechanisms does law employ to influence social perceptions of the past? How successful is law in its attempts to rewrite narratives about the past? I propose to take a step back from established transitional justice narratives, returning to the core sociological, philosophical, and legal theoretical issues that underpin the field of memory studies in order to present a new approach to the relationship between law and collective memory based on a conception of ‘legal institutions of memory’. I will explore different examples taken from Japan, Iraq, Brazil, Portugal, Rwanda and Poland that move from the work of international tribunals and truth commissions to more explicit memory legislation.
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    Legal Personhood for AI systems: Conceptual Preliminaries
    (2023-11-06) Kurki, Visa
    The question of AI legal personhood is increasingly becoming topical. However, this presupposes an understanding of what legal personhood is. When discussing AI legal personhood, many take for granted what I call the Orthodox View of legal personhood. I will discuss this view and show why legal personhood should instead be understood along the lines of my Bundle Theory. I will then apply this theory to AI systems.
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    The Person and the Window Colonialism Structuralism and the Possibilities of Transsystemic Law
    (2023-09-23) Bryan, Bradley
    Building on recent work on the corporate personhood of Indigenous legal bodies, this paper presents an inquiry into the ways background notions of structural anthropology can encroach on attempts to think about and characterize Indigenous Juridical Orders.
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    Taxation as a social practice: a legal-geography view of the Potlatch-based system of the Pacific Northwest Coast
    (2023-03-30) Vallejo Toledo, Esteban
    In this presentation, we will explore taxation as a social practice. To that purpose, from a comparative-law approach to legal-geography, I will focus on the Feast or Potlatch-based legal system of the Pacific Northwest Coast region. By illustrating how taxation can arise as a social practice that is grounded on the kinship values, social organization, customs, and institutions of Northwest Coast Peoples, I will argue that taxation is neither homogeneous nor limited to modern states. Instead, taxation can be performed as a culturally specific social practice that reflects the characteristics of each society.
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    Pathways of Resurgence: Considering L’nuwey Tplutaqan (Mi’kmaw law) in Mi’kma’ki
    (2022-01-24) McMillan, L. Jane
    The Mi’kmaw Nation is no stranger to Canadian injustice. Donald Marshall, a Mi’kmaq man from Nova Scotia, was wrongly convicted of murder in 1971. He served 11 years of a life sentence. In 1989, a Royal Commission into his prosecution made 82 recommendations to fix the problem of racial discrimination in the justice system through changes in the administration of justice, and policing, and in developing Mi’kmaq justice services. Twenty-five years later, a thorough review found a very disappointing record of implementation of the recommendations, particularly those dealing with the development of Mi’kmaq led justice services, and to ongoing experiences of systemic discrimination an overrepresentation in the criminal justice system. Mi’kmaw communities continue to call for a reinvigoration of their traditional legal principles and practices as the best ways to address the problems of systemic discrimination and racism, to decolonize the Canadian justice system, and to legitimize self-determining Indigenous legal institutions. Merely Indigenizing the Canadian justice system is an inadequate alternative: same paint, new brush. Instead, Mi’kmaw peoples are reclaiming and restoring L’nuwey Tplutaqan. In this presentation, Dr. L. Jane McMillan discusses the pathways of resurgence of Mi’kmaw legal principles and processes in Mi’kma’ki.
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    Cree law & Treaty 6
    (2021-11-30) Lindberg, Darcy
    This presentation explores the use of Cree legal processes and legal principles in the negotiations of Treaty 6. While the implementation of the treaty has under-utilized Cree law, Professor Darcy Lindberg offers pathways for the effective use of Cree law to realize the spirit and intent of Treaty 6, and for right treaty relations generally.
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    Baha'i law
    (2021-11-02) Danesh, Roshan
    The presentation provides a broad overview of Baha'i law in its historical, cultural, social, religious, political, and legal contexts. This includes situating Baha'i law within processes and discourses of social change and legal revitalization within Islamic societies, including responses to modernity, colonization, and justice movements. Particular attention is paid to how Baha'i law explicitly conceptualizes the application and enforcement of law as contingent on the existence of particular inner (spiritual) and outer (social) conditions, thus creating a Baha'i legal imagination and culture that is highly diverse, dynamic, and fluid.
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    Studying Islamic Law in a Changing World
    (2021-10-26) Farahat, Omar
    Why do we study Islamic law in a time and place dominated by the laws of modern nation-states? Islamic law is a system of thought, interpretation, and enforcement that evolved over centuries based on the teachings of Prophet Mohammed and the divine revelations he received, which then led to the rise an expansion of a Muslim nation, the central characteristic of which was the following of that legal system. Those of us who study the tradition from the “outside,” which is virtually everyone in Western academic institutions, are faced with difficult methodological questions concerning the assumptions and purposes of our study. This talk will outline the basic features of this historical tradition that are particularly conducive to conceptual difficult in modern scholarship, and discuss the move from colonial, and anti-colonial to the post-liberal and post-nation-state approaches in the study of Islamic law.
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    Researching Rabbinic legal traditions: a textual case-study
    (2021-10-25) Daum, Robert
    This session provides a brief overview of some key aspects of the Jewish legal tradition, including some terms and concepts, historical issues, literary genres, and major collections. Dr. Robert Daum focused on a particular legal tradition to illustrate some of its complex characteristics in light of significant areas of current research interest in the field.
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    Zoroastrian law
    (2021-10-20) Jany, János
    The lecture focuses on the history, concepts and main issues of Zoroastrian law. We begin with a historic overview to see how Persian (tribal) law evolved into a religious law of Zoroastrianism. The second part is about the Zoroastrian legal system in its ethical, dogmatic and ritual context in order to see how Zoroastrian worldview determined legal thinking. The third part of the lecture will discuss some characteristic institutions of Zoroastrian private and criminal law while at the end we share some thoughts why Zoroastrianism is a living tradition even today despite heavy losses after the fall of the Sasanians.
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    AI & legal thinking
    (2021-09-29) Gaon, Aviv; Ramshaw, Sara
    The future of legal thinking in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers an extensive analysis of how judges, legal professionals, scholars, and students understand law. As law is becoming increasingly digitized, it is necessary to explore the role that algorithms may play in different areas of law, legal practice, and legal education. Emerging topics like intellectual property, machine ‘judges’, AI justice, and biases in AI programming are worth critical talk. The UVic Graduate Student Law & Society Research Group hosted a discussion with Professor Sara Ramshaw (UVic Law) and Professor Gaon Aviv (Harry Radzyner Law School), who discussed how AI impacts legal thinking.
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    COVID-19 vaccines: intellectual-property challenges and transnational-legal opportunities
    (2021-04-09) Ramraj, Victor V.; Gebru, Aman
    In October 2020, India and South Africa proposed the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily suspend trade-related intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccines and technologies. The proposal aims to ensure that not only the wealthiest countries will be able to access and afford those vaccines and technologies. After the proposal was presented, analysts claim that a “vaccine apartheid” has already been created. In response, in March 2021, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the WTO, invited countries and manufacturers to implement a framework that would provide developing countries with more opportunities to access COVID-19 technologies. On April 9, 2021, the UVic Graduate Student Law & Society Research Group hosted an academic discussion between Professor Victor V. Ramraj (University of Victoria-Faculty of Law) and Professor Aman Gebru (Duquesne University-School of Law). Both speakers 1) explained the proposal that India and South Africa presented to the WTO; 2) discussed other initiatives to facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccines and technologies like the COVAX initiative, which is co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), CEPI, GAVI, and UNICEF; and 3) explored relevant legal, socio-economic, ethical, political, and international issues that could facilitate or restrict access to COVID-19 vaccines and technologies. Therefore, this event was one of the first (if not the first) thoughtful critical-legal discussions about the challenges and opportunities emerging from initiatives aiming to ensure global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, such as the initiative proposed by India and South Africa or COVAX.
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    Are Religious Freedom Cases Transsystemic?
    (2021-03-30) Chan, Kathryn
    In this talk, Professor Kathryn Chan shared some evolving thoughts on the encounter between secular and religious legal traditions. She also shared findings from an ongoing project on the Immigration and Refugee Board’s adjudication of claims of religious persecution. She considered whether the encounter between legal traditions raises distinct normative concerns in the contexts of legal education and legal decision-making.
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    Candidacy exams: are they important?
    (2021-02-24) Johnson, Rebecca; Vallianatos, Mary Anne; Saha, Himaloya
    The candidacy exam is required of all PhD students and is taken no later than two years after a student's first registration in a PhD program at UVic. This academic requirement helps graduate programs to determine if a student is ready to begin research in a specific area. Thus, it assesses if a student has 1) adequate knowledge of the discipline and specific research topic; and 2) the ability to pursue research at an advanced level. Although some people argue that this requirement is unnecessarily rigid and lengthy, others point out that it is one of the most helpful experiences that a researcher can undergo. In this presentation, our speakers, Prof. Rebecca Johnson, Mary Anne Vallianatos, and Himaloya Saha, explained why candidacy exams are important and how to prepare for taking them.
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    Research ethics: why it matters
    (2021-02-24) Miskelly, Kenna
    Did you know that all researchers at the University of Victoria, including students, faculty, and staff, need an ethics approval or exemption to conduct research involving human participants, personal information, and biological materials? The purpose of UVic's research ethics review process is to guarantee that research conducted by our institution and specialists follows the ethical standards established by Canadian universities, funding agencies, and regulatory bodies. In this talk organized by the UVic Graduate Student Law & Society Research Group with support from the Human Research Ethics Board (HREB), Kenna Miskelly not only explained why research ethics is important, but also explored UVic's research ethics review process and shared some tips on how to prepare a successful research ethics application.
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    Transsystemic administrative law
    (2021-02-23) Promislow, Janna
    In this talk, Dr. Promislow addressed key questions and challenges in pursuing a transsystemic approach to research and teaching administrative law. By outlining some of the moves involved in toggling between state and non-state legal orders in an area of law generally associated with the state, the talk reflected on how a transsystemic approach will address legal principles related to governmental decision-making in Indigenous legal orders, and may also redefine the study of administrative law more generally away from its traditional focus on the principles of judicial review.
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    Transsystemic constitutional law
    (2021-02-23) Borrows, John
    The University of Victoria follows a transsystemic method of teaching and thinking about law to educate across different legal orders, emphasize the relevance of Indigenous legal traditions to Canada, and contribute to understandings of law that are different from long-established legal views. Join the second presentation of our Transsystemic Law Series. Professor John Borrows will explain why a transsystemic approach to constitutional law contributes not only to understanding how different communities organize as distinctive political units, but also to giving Indigenous legal traditions equal footing with common and civil law traditions in Canada.