The ninth Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory

This year the forum is particularly concerned with questions of method: How do we reckon with law? Reckoning holds this tension – how can we meet our scholarly responsibilities in the present and live the outcomes as our institutional lives? In actuarial disciplines, reckoning is about calculating risk and speculating on potential. In courtroom contexts, we balance probabilities and entertain reasonable doubts. Reckoning recalls how Australia learned to count at the polls in 1967, but it also orients us towards the unfinished business that addresses competing assertions and claims to sovereignty in this place. The verb is procedural, ambiguous and challenging, but there is finality in the noun. It contemplates the point at which we will understand and account for the gravity of our actions. But is that a conclusion or an extant demand? Are there viable redemptive legal methods and forms? When we think as jurists, jurisprudents or lawyers, does reckoning precede, follow, or arise with judgment? Reckoning speaks in formal registers of counting and accounting, weights and measures, judgment and balance but also – in the Australian vernacular – of situation, experience and perspective.

We welcome papers from all areas of law, and from scholars in all disciplines whose work engages questions of method, law or theory. Participants are invited to give conventional papers or present their work in visual, aural, multimedia or other creative formats. Presenters might wish to reflect on the themes of the conference in the following terms:

  • How do we account for our practices and how does this account become manifest and visible in our work?
  • What kind of reckoning is available through the concerns, histories and methods of environmental law; international law; constitutional law; Indigenous laws; relations and engagements between colonial and Indigenous laws; criminal law; administrative law; feminist legal theory; economic law; law and religion and religious laws; family law; military law; or property law?
  • How do we reckon with the responsibilities of our roles, the obligations of office, and the politics of persona?
  • Within legal structures and relationships, how do we reckon with innovation, technological advance and change?
  • How do we conceive of places of reckoning within the global South?
  • In the practice of international law, how do we balance the demands of diplomacy, politics and legal method? How do our methods of reckoning differ at home and abroad?

A limited number of bursaries will be available for interstate and international presenting participants who are unable to claim funding to cover the full cost of travel from their home institution. Bursaries are intended to contribute towards travel expenses. Please indicate in your application whether you would like to be considered for a bursary.

Send abstracts max 500 words and biographies of 100 words to by Friday 5 August 2016. Confirmation of accepted abstracts will be communicated by 30 September 2016.

Details and updates here