Universiteit Leiden

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Capturing papered life at the crossroad of socio-legal studies, ethnography and medical regulation

  • Professor Marie-Andrée Jacob
Friday 21 October 2016
Old Observatory
Sterrenwachtlaan 11
2311 GW Leiden
B 1.04

The activity of documenting, as well as bureaucratic artefacts such as registers, forms and even calligraphy, increasingly spark the imagination of legal and socio-legal scholars. Many of the paradoxes of the ‘legal’ indeed often lie in minute paperwork. Yet in light of the canonical opposition between ‘law in the books’ and ‘law in action,’ this intermediary sphere of ‘law in the paperwork’ still holds an intriguing, somewhat marginal location within law and society scholarship. Drawing from her own research, Professor Jacob will discuss how ethnography, amongst other approaches, can hold potential when it comes to approaching the papered instantiations of legality and also illegality. In doing so she will explore some of the practical and methodological possibilities and challenges of studying law in the paperwork.

Marie-Andrée Jacob is Professor of Law at Keele University. Her socio-legal work is strongly interdisciplinary, drawing on ethnographic and more recently on archival methods. She is generally interested in activities that sit on the border between legality and illegality. In 2010 she received the Article Prize of the Socio-Legal Studies Association for ‘The Shared History’: unknotting fictive kinship and legal process’ (Law & Society Review). Her book Matching Organs with Donors: Legality and Kinship in Transplants was published in 2012 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Her research has been supported by various funding bodies, including the British Academy, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Leverhulme Trust. In 2008 and 2015 she served on the Law and Society Association’s Annual Meeting Programme Committee. 

As part of her current research on the category of ‘research integrity,’ Marie-Andrée Jacob explores modern patterns in the documentation of research regulation. She conducts ethnographic observations in the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), an international charity assisting editors and publishers to handle allegations of research misconduct. In 2016-18, she is working on a Leverhulme Research Fellowship: Figuring ‘bad apples’: legal-bureaucratic assemblages of research misconduct, 1850-1990.

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