Legal borderlines: Theorising rupture in the realm of interlegality - The potential for radical legal change in the face of ecological collapse




Llorca, Katherine

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The IPCC has issued increasingly stark warnings that climate breakdown and ecological collapse are inevitable if radical action is not taken in the coming decade. To date, the legal academy seems dangerously impervious to this warning. And yet, any “radical action” will also demand radical legal change. Is it possible for law to do more than simply edge forward with piecemeal legal reform? Is radical legal change possible in a legal order that values stability above all else? And if it is, what might it look like? I start by considering radical change in the form of ruptural events and the ways in which such events question the foundations on which our legal systems are built (Chapter 1). I then consider the origins of ruptural events. It seems that they emerge in the spaces of friction between legal orders, understood in the broadest, pluralist sense. But when the meaning of legal order is understood so broadly – as it is among legal pluralists – it is easy to lose one’s footing: what distinguishes one legal order from another (Chapter 2)? what is specifically legal about each order (Chapter 3)? and, crucially, what does it mean for legal orders to overlap (Chapter 4)? These detours through legal theory are not accessory; we cannot begin to envisage radical legal change without clarifying law’s potential. Together these chapters provide one possible understanding of the “distinctness”, “legalness”, and “intersectingness” of legal orders. With these theoretical tools in hand, I then consider how they help us grapple more constructively with the potential for change in the form of ruptural events (Chapter 5). The result is an experiment in legal theorising: How might we think about law’s role in times of ecological crisis? And what are the consequences of this thinking for our understanding of what the law can do? My conclusion is that ecological collapse changes the way we should be thinking about law. Indeed, it may not be the only modern development that will push us to reconsider the potential for change in the context of law...



interlegality, rupture, legal theory, Lindahl, Cover, Rancière, legal pluralism, ecological collapse