Community Blog

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  • 10 Jun 2023 17:03 | Daniel Díaz Venegas

    Hello, my name is Daniel Diaz, from Uruguay. I'm a lawyer and PhD in social science for the University of Buenos Aires Argentina. I’m working at the law School at the University in Uruguay  (UdelaR). I recently did my thesis dissertation in Argentina about the penal system. It’s called: Legal rationality and integral protection. A look at the changes in the Uruguayan juvenile penal system during the period 1990 to 2022. 

    My idea of ​​visiting the IISL was to continue this thesis work. I had to spend 15 days in May and I found an incredible place that helped me think and advance in my work; as well as knowing other investigations from different places. An incredible experience that I hope to repeat soon.

    A big greeting and I left you the link to my thesis dissertation at the UBA Faculty of Social Sciences in case you are interested.


  • 4 May 2023 19:09 | Stanislaw Burdziej

    Even though my stay was rather short – just 2 weeks – I feel I could write a book. A book just with questions I keep asking myself and others about the secret to Oñati. The secret recipe for its strong community ties and solidarity, but coupled with openness to outsiders and vitality. I wish to thank Sabine, Susana, Ainhoa, Leire, Maite, Mantonni and Rakel for making the Institute what it is – a researcher’s paradise. Those, with whom I could share it – particularly Raquel and Tilen. To Naomi, Jen, Christian and all the participants of their inspiring workshop – not only for the food for thought. I also need to thank Edurne for the wealth of information about Oñati and the area, and surprise daily chats in the streets. Margari for the best pinchos. And finally, the gentleman who – upon learning I was going to hike from Arantzazu to Oñati over the mountain pass in thick fog - accompanied me for a kilometer uphill just to ensure I was on the right path… Oñati – eskerrik asko!

  • 27 Feb 2023 16:24 | María de los Ángeles Ramallo

    El mundo de “Miles de años después” se sitúa, tal vez, en un futuro indeterminado. Un mundo donde impera el culto a la razón y se han desterrado las emociones, y que está representado en un internado donde vive la joven protagonista, Chiara. En ese universo donde todas las relaciones están gobernadas por un algoritmo, Chiara deberá enfrentar una violencia desatada que le hará replantearse sus certezas y su propia identidad, y llegar a un punto en el que las leyes de la vida y de la muerte se confunden entre sí.

    Leire Kortabarria es poeta y escritora, con un blog y un libro de poemas en su haber. Miles de años después es la primera novela que publica. En todos sus textos trata sus preocupaciones humanistas, colocando a sus personajes en el centro de conflictos universales narrados con un enfoque a la vez realista y fantástico. Además, forma parte del staff del IISJ, desde el área Programa de Publicaciones. 

    Recomendamos la lectura de su novela, y dejamos a continuación enlaces de relevancia: 

    Booktrailer: https://youtu.be/fqoJC2Q5YdM 

    Web de la editorial: https://editorialcirculorojo.com/miles-de-anos-despues/

    Amazon: https://www.amazon.es/Miles-a%C3%B1os-despu%C3%A9s-Leire-Kortabarria/dp/841155192X

    El Corte Inglés: https://www.elcorteingles.es/libros/A46153275-miles-de-anos-despues/?parentCategoryId=999.6810303013 

    Casa del Libro: https://www.casadellibro.com/libro-miles-de-anos-despues/9788411551922/13430048 

  • 23 Dec 2022 11:35 | Matteo Pignocchi

    I was in Onati in November, I had to write my Ph.D. thesis because of i'm going to close my Ph.D. course at University of Macerata (Italy)! I found a great place to study and write about your issues! Calm, friendly people, and a never ending library.  In Italy, I actually am a Ph.D. student and a lawyer, so that my day-routine is so frenetic between academy and law firm.

    When I left Onati and I came back home, that was my tought: it would be great if I will be able to join Onati and IISL once a year in my life. A moment for me, for my research, to meet people from all over the world.

    What about You? Just think about it! 

  • 1 Dec 2022 13:33 | ITZIAR ALTUZARRA ALONSO (Administrator)

    The first phase of the Oñati International Master's in Sociology of Law had not even finished and we had already begun the second one; my classmates and I had chosen a research topic and were clear about the research questions we would try to answer. Moreover, all of us had already had a chat with our supervisors. It was time to write the final Master Thesis. After one of the craziest, strangest, most exhausting, most intense, most enlightening and most precious experiences of my life, it was time for the final touch; I had more than 3 months to work on the research and writing process, although at that starting point I didn't know it would happen so fast. After accumulating books from the library, downloading potentially useful PDFs almost compulsively, reading less than a quarter of all of them, and getting over the blank page anguish, I began to write my research project that would eventually be called "Problematising sexual consent in Spanish rape law: gender norms and the manifestation of sexual will". In the following I generally explain the topic, the methodology and the main findings of the cited work:

    Since the second half of 20th century, feminist legal and socio-legal scholars have revised the relations between the law and women's sexuality. Indeed, prolific feminist endeavours continue to question the potentialities of the law in taking due account of women's claims about sexual violence nowadays. In the current legal and political Spanish context, last October the Ley Orgánica de garantía integral de la libertad sexual entered into force in order to reformulate the crime of rape on the basis of consent. Nonetheless, this legal amendment raises questions about its capacity to respond to the spectrum of patriarchal sexual violence. To what extent is the element of consent in the legal redefinition of rape capable to capture women's sexual will? To address this main issue, I answer the following subquestions: How is sexual consent constructed and represented in the criminal policy discourse underpinning the legal amendment? In which way does the central role of consent shape the criminal justice response to women?

    In order to answer these questions my work adopts a feminist methodology, which primarily implies the pretension of a non-androcentric epistemology and the fact that my methodological decisions do not look for abstraction or neutrality, but are made from situated knowledge. Working from a qualitative research informed plan, predictably the research work begins with an exhaustive literature review. In particular, I resort to the argumentation of emblematic feminist authors who have addressed and revolutionised the understanding of women's sexuality and the web of power relations imbued in it, as well as the linkage of all this with the law. This literature informs the elaboration of an empirical analysis that examines the criminal policy discourse around the legal amendment of the Spanish criminal code towards a consent-based rape law. Additionally, feminist poststructuralism informs my empirical analysis. Thus, my concern is to identify assumptions that underpin discursive practices around sexual consent. In line with this, I use Carol Bacchi's What's the Problem Represented to be? approach in order to "disrupt taken-for-granted truths" and I put the focus on what is presumed and unexamined. For this criminal policy analysis my primary sources are the preparatory works underpinning the legal modification, as well as the interventions of the political parties and groupings that took place in the Equality Commission and the Congress of Deputies.

    The research work's contribution to socio-legal feminist studies is exposing the patriarchal assumptions upon which the element of sexual consent is currently sustained in the Spanish political and legal context. That is, the project provides theoretical and empirical knowledge base about the potentialities and constrains of this legal element to reflect women's sexual experiences. Moreover, my work shows how this policy contradicts many crucial arguments of the feminist theory in relation to women's lived experiences of sexual violence and rape. Nevertheless, by relying on broader discourses of human rights and international law and repeatedly alluding to the feminist movement, as well as due to the functionality of consent in neoliberal democracy, the legislative process enjoyed high level of acceptance in the country.

    Finishing and defending the mentioned work last September was an enormous liberation but also a great emptiness, since it also meant the end of the master's degree that had opened my eyes so much. However, my surprise came a few weeks later, when Susana Arrese announced to me that the prestigious jury composed by Vincenzo Ferrari, Teresa Pincontó Novales and Joxerramon Bengoetxea had decided to award me the Manolo Calvo 2022 prize for my Master's dissertation. This award came at the perfect moment for me; my insecurities have always conditioned me and the prize provided me with a great source of motivation and self-confidence to move forward in my professional path, for which I am very grateful indeed. Additionally, this acknowledgment was even more special due to the fact that it was given in honour of the professor Manolo Calvo, who passed away in 2020 and dedicated a great deal of work and effort to research on violence against women. As those who know me best will know, this is a topic that moves me, angers me and stimulates me as a researcher. Furthermore, despite not having had the opportunity to know Manolo personally, the affection with which his colleagues and friends remember him leaves no doubt about his human quality. If that was not enough, this award gave me the visibility for participating in the conference called Juntas contra las violencias machistas organised by Instituto Aragonés de la Mujer on the occasion of 25N, an experience that I enjoyed enormously and that I am still assimilating.

    In short, I can only be grateful to this wonderful community of people, who every year - and every day - show how collaboration between individuals is always a synergistic relationship in which the collective action of two or more components has a greater effect than the sum of their individual parts.

  • 14 Sep 2022 19:00 | Manuel Fanega

    Here it is my contribution to this blog, on my enriching experience in Oñati, where I relate a bit of my experience in my first one-month-stay in the International Institute for the Sociology of Law.

    To start with, it is good to know that the working language is English. Switch to English as you pass through the door of Antia Residence. When someone don’t speak Spanish or Basque, all the group switch to English immediately. This is not rare but frequent: I met people from Canada, Australia, France, Hungary, the USA…

    Traditional and critical criminology is everywhere. The Institute has a big library on Sociology of Law. Perhaps for this reason, if you are a criminologist, you’ll feel very comfortable there. The library has three spaces. One, with physical (and electronic) journals (Eguzquilore, Punishment and Society, and so on) and one scanner; and two more spaces plenty of books, mainly written in English, but also in other languages. You’ll find many references to include in your writings on Social Control, Policing, Prisons, Human rights, Governance, etc. and there are also many fundamental pieces on Political Science, Sociology, Philosophy, Law, etc.

    Practice of sports. Within a five-minute’s walk from the Institute or the Residence you can find the public Zubikoa Sport Centre. In my case, I frequently enjoyed the pool (open all-year-round), but there are further sports to practice. During summer there’s also an area to sunbath. You can buy a single ticket for every session or to get a 10-sesions-boucher. The staff is very friendly, as all Oñati inhabitants. Also, in summer, don’t forget to walk or bike to the natural pool of Usako, that it’s very near of Oñati.

    Accommodation. Although you’ll arrive to Oñati with a prearrangement accommodation, once you are there you may find other offers. Sometimes, there’re availability of apartments or rooms from Oñati’s inhabitants, which are very kind and reliable. In my case, I stayed one week in an apartment, because the Residence was full in those days. The landlord was very kind (thanks M. for the bikes and your hospitality). Also, the Institute staff will do everything to help you and make your stay as happy as possible.

    Communications. I used public transports in my stay. Based on that experience, I’d to recommend you get the Gipuzkoa card to save a bit of money traveling within this province. Besides, there’re one or two direct buses from Bilbao airport to Oñati, but everybody will recommend you go to San Prudentzio bus stop, which is a busy commuting point to Oñati, Bilbao, San Sebastian-Donosti and Vitoria-Gasteiz.

    Food. Since you’ve a well-equipped kitchen in Antia Residence, you can prepare your own meal. Within five-minutes-walk you can find a medium-side supermarket called Eroski, and a bigger Eroski by ten-minutes-walk in the opposite direction; this one with fresh fish and seafood. In that way there are also a small supermarket called Coviran, that opens until ten, even on Sundays. If you can’t live without fresh bread every morning, go to Atzeko Kalea, 14. Also, you can have breakfast in Ogi Berri or Bizipoz Kafe in your way to the Institute. At lunch time, I used to go to the building of Mondragon University in Oñati (no id. is required to access to the canteen, but ask the staff to be seated). Their daily-menu is wealthy, tasty and it cost around 13€. Don’t leave Oñati without learn about the Mondragon’s cooperative system, where the supermarket previously mentioned, Eroski, is also a part of.

    Finally, and the more important: Oñati is a hub of ideas, scholars and a very productive place. It doesn’t matter when or where. You’ll write a lot in the morning, confront your ideas with colleagues in the afternoon (at the same time you enjoy a glass of Basque cider during pintxopote) or attend a private master class on methodology of science in the terrace of Antia at night (thanks Javier B.).

    To sum up, Oñati is a perfect ecosystem where time lets you space to enjoy, rest, think, write and share. That is, to fully live knowledge.

    Thanks for all, OC! 

    Manuel Fanega (Loyola University, Spain) 

  • 19 Aug 2022 17:32 | Jennifer Koshan

    For the month of June 2022 I had the honour of being a visiting scholar at the International Institute for the Sociology of Law in Oñati. I had been to Oñati twice before for workshops, and like most people I fell in love with the people, place, and pintxos. I could not wait to spend longer at the Institute, though wait I did until pandemic conditions allowed. After over two years of limited travel and in person interactions, it felt like a dream to hang out in the IISL library with other visiting scholars, graduate students, helpful staff, and the immense and diverse collection of socio-legal tomes. Almost every day included a long walk, writing time, a coffee in the main plaza, and the aforementioned pintxos (usually accompanied by txakoli). My partner joined me for 3 weeks and he would add afternoon naps to that list. We had many potluck dinners at the Residencia Antia, where we shared offerings from the Saturday market, discussed local and international politics, and made plans for weekend hikes and excursions to other parts of Basque country. Fortunately the Residence stayed cool despite the heat wave, but we were still happy to discover the local swimming hole, Usako. We were also fortunate to experience several local festivals, including Corpus Christi. I felt a true sense of belonging when I was whacked by a cabezudo wearing a rooster head in the plaza.

    My writing project while at the Institute was a paper on myths and stereotypes about domestic violence, which I presented in July at the International Congress on Feminism, Law and Citizenship at L’Institut des sciences juridique et philosophique de la Sorbonne in Paris (for an earlier blog post on this work see here). Although the topic is a heavy one, the ability to think and write in the idyllic setting presented by Oñati was instrumental to the progress I made. I also valued the opportunity to discuss my research (and theirs) with people from a range of different legal system contexts.

    There are many encounters that Zoom and other platforms allowed socio-legal scholars to approximate during the pandemic, but I am so grateful for the encounters I was able to have in person in Oñati this summer. Eskerrik asko to the Institute for making the dream of a Canadian socio-legal scholar a reality.    

  • 3 Aug 2022 15:07 | María de los Ángeles Ramallo

    7th Global Meeting on Law and Society. Abstracts of the papers presented by Members of the Oñati Community (PART 3). 

    Remember that if you have done a presentation at the Global Meeting and you want your abstract to be uploaded, you can contact mramallo@derecho.uba.ar

    The Interview as Text. Sharyn Roach Anleu and Kathy Mack (Flinders University)

    The interview is often a preferred method to study emotion. Interviews can enable a far-reaching flow of consciousness, allow scope for reflexivity and provide opportunities for probing. However, the interview is not just an extraction of information. The process is a dynamic and interactional co-production and may entail emotional work for the interviewer and interviewee. Interviews also have limitations. They are conducted in an artificial situation, in which interviewees provide accounts, even justifications, of their actions and approaches. The interviewer/researcher cannot always gauge the alignment between an interviewee’s description of a past situation and what they felt in the moment. We wish to explore two issues:

    (i) Interviews about emotions can be difficult for those in legal settings, eg judicial officers, who frame their work as rational or cognitive, not emotional or feeling. Interviewees may not be used to thinking about emotions or may regard them only to be avoided or suppressed. Some judicial officers may perceive questions about emotion as personal and so intrusive. The interviewer might not be able to discern whether judicial officers are reticent to talk about emotion or whether they lack the language to do so.

    (ii) Interviews have an important temporal dimension. An interview occurs and is recorded at one point in time. Later it is transcribed, and much later analyzed, perhaps several times in different ways and possibly by different readers/researchers. The interview as narrative or conversation becomes text. Its interactive nature shifts from interviewee and interviewer to the researcher(s) -- necessarily the interviewer -- who interprets the interview transcript, identify themes, and codes the text. This research process can be more akin to historical research that generates insight about emotion from documents.

    Can the jihadist women speak? The construction of self-identity under totalitarian semantics. Wanda Capeller (Centro de Estudos Sociais da Universidade de Coimbra)

    This reflection aims to analyze the complex conditions that determine desubjectivation process by which self-identity and self-image of European young women are reconstructed under the impact of totalitarian semantics and ideological rhetoric, what led them to join a pre-modern way of life in ISIS’s patriarchal society. In terrorist community women have an ambiguous social role, on the one hand, a subaltern role of wife and mother devoted to the domestic space, and on the other hand, an active role in the community, notably as a combatant woman. After the fall of ISIS, in 2019, those women are living in Syria and Turkey’s refugee camps, asking to return to their origins countries. These women are being heard by European political and judicial authorities? I will argue on two points, as follows: 1) jihadist propaganda as a powerful dispositive allowing the formation of subaltern subjectivity; 2) voiceless women facing European hesitant “return policies” to the rescue of jihadist women.

    What Are Victim Impact Statements For? Susan A. Bandes (DePaul University College of Law)

    In Payne v. Tennessee, the US Supreme Court upheld the admission of victim impact statements (VIS) on the ground that they provide valuable information to the sentencer. In the three decades since, two additional rationales for VIS have become ascendant: most prominently, a therapeutic rationale, and more recently, a public education rationale. In this article, I expand upon my critiques of the informational and therapeutic rationales in light of a growing body of empirical evidence about how VIS affect both sentencers and crime victims. Focusing on the powerful and viral VIS delivered at the Larry Nassar guilty plea hearings and the Brock Turner trial, I consider whether VIS can be defended as a vehicle for informing the public about the impact of crime—particularly crimes that are underenforced or poorly understood. I conclude that ultimately the current VIS regime arises from and reinforces an individualistic model of crime that is not well-suited to illuminating the scope or consequences of criminal behavior, particularly in multi-victim cases like those of Larry Nassar. More generally, I argue that there are fairer and more robust models for achieving the informational, healing, and educative goals that victim impact statements are meant to serve, and that these models may well require decoupling those goals from the narrow ambit of the criminal justice system. 

    Suggested Citation: Bandes, Susan A., What are Victim Impact Statements for? (June 08, 2022). 87 Brooklyn Law Review 1253 (2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4118829

    The Interplay Between Customary Law on Inheritance in Southern Cameroons and the Human Rights Principle of Gender Non-Discrimination. Mirabelle Chi Epse Okezie (University of Tasmania)

    Like most Sub-Saharan African countries, Cameroon runs a plural legal system which consists not only of western legal models introduced by the French and the British during colonialism, but also of municipal legislation and human rights principles, all existing side by side with a fragmentary system of norms based on native laws and customs – customary law. Among these rules, the relationship fostered between customary law and human rights principles is particularly characterized by tension, friction, and conflict, resulting from their divergent features. Customary law in Cameroon is imbued with a discriminatory structure that is highly patriarchal and disadvantageous to women, while human rights values, on the other hand, are imbued with humanity and usually advocate egalitarian principles that presuppose gender equality and non-discrimination between men and women. Under customary law in Southern Cameroons for example, women are regarded as legal minors who can only enjoy usufruct rights in property but can neither freely contract nor acquire and dispose of property, thus disempowering them in the area of inheritance.

    Efforts to discourage such discriminatory customary laws include the adoption of the repugnancy and the incompatibility tests (Section 27(1) of the Southern Cameroons High Court Laws) in the enforcement of customary law by the ordinary courts in Southern Cameroon. However, these have only led to a divergence in customary laws rather than solve the problem. What the ordinary courts recognize as customary law is different from what the society including unofficial customary courts considers as such. This is because, when the ordinary courts reject the enforcement of a particular custom which is said to conflict with human rights values, nothing is done to further prevent the continuous observance of such customary law in society. Thus, because customary justice in Southern Cameroon is equally exercised by unofficial customary courts (local chiefs empowered to settle disputes using native laws and customs) which tend to be more widely used in most rural and poor urban areas, the observance of discriminatory customary laws and practices remains a huge problem and warrants attention. This article focuses on the interplay between customary law on inheritance in the Southern part of Cameroon and the human rights principle of gender non-discrimination.

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