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.