Global South Legalities

Creating a Forum to Discuss Law in the Global South

This project seeks to create a forum for socio-legal scholars who promote an understanding of the law in its various manifestations and in the local languages and terms used by those in the Global South. “Global South” refers to subaltern cultures from peripheral and semi-peripheral societies, but also to different expressions of those subaltern cultures that take place in central societies (Santos, 2009). “Legalities” are the symbols, signs, and instantiations of formal law’s classificatory impulse and the social products, generated in the course of virtually any repetitive practice of wide acceptance within a specific locale (Tomlins 2001). Global South Legalities, therefore, aims to provide a platform for research that explores the plurality of legal manifestations and experiences in peripheral and semi-peripheral positionalities throughout the world.

Breaking away from Global North definitions and conceptualizations of what constitutes the law, the ultimate aim is to engage in the process of epistemological decolonisation, which implies taking “seriously the epistemic perspective/cosmologies/insights of critical thinkers from the Global South thinking from and with subalternized racial/ethnic/sexual spaces and bodies” (Grosfoguel cited in Willems 2014: 9).  Through engaging in discourse with legal practitioners from the NGO sector, academics, and those in government, this project will include a diverse range of actors who can speak on the impact of the law upon the daily experiences of those living in the Global South.


Organizing Meetings Around the World

Global South Legalities began in September 2015 as a two-year International Research Collaborative (IRC) organized by Dr Pablo Ciocchini (UoL) and Dr George Radics (NUS) through the Law and Society Association (LSA) of the United States. The IRC was originally entitled “Judicial Reforms in the Global South.” Since then, the project has organized panels at regional and international conferences, writing workshops, and plans to host conferences that highlight the work being done in developing our understanding of the various manifestations of Global South legalities. The project also arranges special issues in reputable journals, edited book volumes, and is working on establishing more permanent avenues to present the work of people within the network.


Exploring Different Dimensions of Legality

The types of work this project is interested in range from scholarship on the very formal area of judicial reforms, to studies on informal areas of the law that constitute “indigenous” knowledge. Much of our work falls into various streams: 1) Judicial Reforms; 2) Criminal Law and Criminality; 3) Private Law and Legalities; and 4) International Law and Global Governance. In line with these themes, this project invites lawyers, activists, those who work for the government, and academics from a wide range of disciplines interested in the law and its impacts upon society to join the discussion.



Santos, B. d. S. 2009. Sociología Jurídica Crítica: Para un Nuevo Sentido Común en el Derecho. Madrid: Editorial Trotta.

Tomlins, C. 2001. “Introduction” in Tomlins, C. and Mann, B. (eds.) The Many Legalities of Early America, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 1-20.

Willems, W. 2014. “Beyond Normative Dewesternization: Examining Media Culture from the Vantage Point of the Global South,” The Global South, Vol. 8(1): 7-23.