RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019

Prof. Nick Gill presented a paper at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2019 in London, 27 – 30 August 2019. The conference’s theme “Geographies of Trouble / Geographies of Hope” allowed Dr. Gill to speak about using the method of court ethnographies for research. He also convened two panels on the Geographies of Welcome (Troubling Welcome & Practising Welcome). 

The ASYFAIR team member Dr. Lorenzo Vianelli also presented a paper with the title “Dispositifs of refugee reception and border management: Governing through ambiguity, failure and improvisation”, with co-presenters Léa Lemaire and Lucas Oesch; as well as co-organising various panels at the conference. 

Prof. Gill presented his paper in the panel Practising Legal Geography (1): Spaces of legal practice, convened by Katherine Brickell (Royal Holloway, University of London); Alex Jeffrey (University of Cambridge) and Fiona McConnell (University of Oxford).


For Courtwatching: Practices of Witnessing Legal Processes as Research Method and Activism

In the context of vanishing trials (Galanter, 2004), this paper reflects on the value of witnessing court hearings as an observer and the activist movements towards courtwatching that have witnessing at their heart. Drawing on extensive evidence of courtwatching for research purposes in Europe’s asylum appeals, the paper makes the case for its utility in terms of returning the gaze of the state and holding power to account. While it is important to be aware of the methodological, ethical and practical challenges of courtwatching, the paper gives examples of the effects it can have among both legal elites and precariously positioned court users. What will determine the future of courtwatching as a practice in legal geography and in wider activist circles, however, is the extent to which legal processes – and dispute resolution generally – continue to be ‘public’ events, or what ‘publicity’ will mean in future years. This is a debate, and a struggle, that geographers are ideally positioned to enter.