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Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review x Jaar 2018 x
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Access_open ‘A Continuous Process of Becoming’: The Relevance of Qualitative Research into the Storylines of Law

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 2 2018
Trefwoorden storylines of law, qualitative research, law in action, law in books
Auteurs Danielle Antoinette Marguerite Chevalier
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The maxim ‘law in books and law in action’ relays an implicit dichotomy, and though the constitutive nature of law is nowadays commonly professed, the reflex remains to use law in books as an autonomous starting point. Law however, it is argued in this article, has a storyline that commences before its institutional formalisation. Law as ‘a continuous process of becoming’ encompasses both law in books and law in action, and law in action encompasses timelines both before and after the formal coming about of law. To fully understand law, it is necessary to understand the entire storyline of law. Qualitative studies in law and society are well equipped to offer valuable insights on the facets of law outside the books. The insights are not additional to doctrinal understanding, but part and parcel of it. To illustrate this, an ethnographic case study of local bylaws regulating an ethnically diverse public space of everyday life is expanded upon. The case study is used to demonstrate the insights qualitative data yields with regard to the dynamics in which law comes about, and how these dynamics continue for law in action after law has made the books. This particular case study moreover exemplifies how law is one of many truths in the context in which it operates, and how formalised law is reflective of the power constellations that have brought it forth.


Danielle Antoinette Marguerite Chevalier
Dr. mr. Danielle Antoinette Marguerite Chevalier, PhD, is assistant professor at Leiden University, The Netherlands.

    This paper examines three Inter-American Court (IACtHR) cases on behalf of the Enxet-Sur and Sanapana claims for communal territory in Paraguay. I argue that while the adjudication of the cases was successful, the aftereffects of adjudication have produced new legal geographies that threaten to undermine the advances made by adjudication. Structured in five parts, the paper begins with an overview of the opportunities and challenges to Indigenous rights in Paraguay followed by a detailed discussion of the adjudication of the Yakye Axa, Sawhoyamaxa, and Xákmok Kásek cases. Next, I draw from extensive ethnographic research investigating these cases in Paraguay to consider how implementation actually takes place and with what effects on the three claimant communities. The paper encourages a discussion between geographers and legal scholars, suggesting that adjudication only leads to greater social justice if it is coupled with effective and meaningful implementation.


Joel E. Correia Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona.

    The judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Kaliña and Lokono Peoples v. Suriname is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Particularly important is the Court’s repeated citation and incorporation of various provisions of the 2007 United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples into its interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights. This aids in greater understanding of the normative value of the Declaration’s provisions, particularly when coupled with the dramatic increase in affirmations of that instrument by UN treaty bodies, Special Procedures and others. The Court’s analysis also adds detail and further content to the bare architecture of the Declaration’s general principles and further contributes to the crystallisation of the discrete, although still evolving, body of law upholding indigenous peoples’ rights. Uptake of the Court’s jurisprudence by domestic tribunals further contributes to this state of dynamic interplay between sources and different fields of law.


Fergus MacKay JD
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