Effects of Lawfare 2021: Impressions from the PhD students

In connection to the Bergen Exchanges, LawTransform hosted the annual, interdisciplinary PhD course on Effects of Lawfare with participants at different stages of their PhDs. This year, the course was digital, but with the option of being present in Bergen during the week of BeEx2021. We had 26 students from 8 countries and welcomed 7 students physically in Bergen.

The Effects of Lawfare course discusses the concept of lawfare – the strategic use of right, law and courts for political ends – and how to measure the effects of law. The course combined real time online seminars specifically designed for the course, individual and group mentoring sessions with relevant researchers, group work and digital (hybrid) public seminars that form part of the Bergen Exchanges. Course was divided into a general track, drawing empirical examples from across a range of social and legal fields, and one track with a special focus on child rights. We are happy to share some reflections from our PhD students from the #BeEx2021.

One of the main insights I would take from this series of amazing conferences is the interconnection and interplay of law, rights, democracy, and the other aspects of a society. In classical legal studies, the law is often thought of as an objective device, while rights are sometimes portrayed as inherently progressive. I think these conceptions have been highly challenged throughout this week. Another key insight from this week has been the necessity to better integrate a plurality of knowledges.

– Lucie Ducarre

Working myself through the themes of the webinars I did however experience what I believe to be a professional awakening. I found that there were two main themes in common across different subjects, which also is highly related to both child’s rights and the theme of my thesis: The role of values and politics within lawfare. Understanding the complexity of how the decision-makers define current law affected by current political movements and understanding, enlightened the need to adjust the discussion of my thesis.

– Tina Gerdts-Andersen

The Bergen Exchanges was a wonderful experience that allowed me to reflect on Brazil and my research. I was able to be in contact with colleagues and Professors that all spoke an international language of research, sharing how to design and face problems that come along during researches, and for that, I am very grateful.

– Livia Buzolin

The subjects addressed throughout the Bergen Exchange this year gave me increased insight in, overall perspective of and engagement for democracy. As a Norwegian, I must say that the discourse on the threat to democracy often feels a bit distant; a well – functioning democracy I largely take for granted despite the daily global warnings.

– Simen Mørstad Johansen

I found the Bergen Exchanges, 2021 to be an invaluable learning experience. Gaining insights on contemporary legal as well as socio-political issues from experienced and distinguished scholars from across the world was very helpful for me as a law student in developing an understanding of these critical issues. Overall, I had a rich learning experience at the Bergen Exchanges, 2021. I am sure this will help me in many of my future endeavours.

– Kuldeep Lakwal

It has been very interesting and useful for me to increase my knowledge and develop new points of view from different academic disciplines provided from a foreign country, very different from the domestic topics that are occupying most part of time in the media and the public or social debate and agenda in my own country. Of course, I want to give thanks to the organization for all the work, but also for trust in me to participate in the session of “Learning law & social change”. The chance to contribute in a personal way in this event has been very pleasant for me. Summarizing, the attention of this organization has been exceptional, the perfect combination of professionality, engagement, discipline, confidence, and respect. Able to oversee and manage all kinds of logistic, technical, and academic tasks. The perfect example of a cohesive equipment that works as a perfect machinery.

– Soraya Roldan Parra

I found the exchanges incredibly interesting and enjoyable. My main goal with attending the course was to come out with a better overview of socio legal research, to in turn be able to navigate the writing of my own thesis on the topic. I not only feel like I have gained this, but I have been able to formulate and concretize what questions I want to tackle in my thesis. Timed right at the end of my field work, it also gave me the perfect transition between the phase of data collection to writing up, and with the thematic variation the sessions offered, also a nice break from working on “my own stuff”.

– Chiara Elisabeth Pecorari

Important questions for people working with legal mobilization research and practice were raised by Daniel Brinks’ keynote in the “Autocratic Legalism” panel: if contemporary authoritarian practices are happening without breaking any laws, was the formal legal system ever adequate to protect democracy? How can we go beyond the discussion of legalism and value the informal arrangements sustaining under-institutionalized democracies, presumed, in the discussed project, to be all existing ones – in our research and theory.

– Julia Maia Goldani

I would also like to mention that I found the scholars incredibly engaging, and I think each and every one of them managed to contribute in a way that made Bergen Exchanges all the more colourful. Two idols that I gained during the Exchanges are Ruth Rubio-Marín and Kristin Sandvik, who both were just incredibly thought-provoking and inspiring in all of the sessions that they appeared in.

– Alida Steigler