Community Blog

  • 19 Jun 2019 09:22 | Susana Arrese (Administrator)

    I first visited Onati, and the Institute, for the first Socio-Legal Conference in 2005. The beautiful buildings immediately impressed me, and also the lively conference discussions between international socio-legal scholars. This welcoming and open atmosphere seems to be the hallmark of the Institute.

    Since then I've been fortunate to take part in two workshops:
    Alternative Property Practices, in 2014;
    The Precarious Home: perspectives on the home in insecure times, in 2015.

    The Institute provides a wonderful space, and impeccable administration, enabling those attending the workshop to make the most of their time together. These were very productive and enjoyable meeetings, in a lovely setting.

    I've also spent periods of time as a visiting scholar at the Institute, in 2015, 2016 and 2018. The collection of socio-legal literature in the library is unique; its tempting breadth makes it difficult to resist reading far beyond the topic you're researching! The library is an ideal place to work, being both peaceful and sociable - there are always interesting people to go for a coffee break with. I've really enjoyed staying in the Residencia with the postgrad students, the international socio-legal scholars of the future, and other visiting scholars. I've learnt a lot from conversations with them while preparing and eating meals together.

    The town of Onati is of course an architectual treasure with a very distinguished history, but the hospitality of the Basque people also makes it a wonderful place to spend time in.

    I congratulate the Institute and the staff on your 30th anniversary, and wish you many more successful years.  

    Sarah Blandy (friend of the Oñati Community)



  • 27 May 2019 17:11 | Susana Arrese (Administrator)

    I love Oñati and the Oñati community. It is not only about the fabulous setting, but also about the fantastic people at the IISL, who are there to help in any way they can to make the workshop and visit as perfect as possible. These photos were from the last visit, at dinner with colleagues Sigrun Valderhaug (l.) and Marie Rae (r.). We were participants in the July 2015 workshop ''Moving On'? Official Responses to Mass Harm and the Question of Justice' organised by Jennifer Balint, Julie Evans, Mark McMillan, Mesam Mcmillan. After a day of hard work, it was time to enjoy a wonderful meal and unwind. I think that our faces say it all.



  • 26 Jan 2019 13:12 | Pável H. Valer Bellota

    La Revista de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias Políticas de la UNSAAC ya está en linea. Hemos lanzado nuestra publicación en Sistema Abierto y accesible por la web. Les invitamos a visitarnos y a leer los artículos de la edición Nro. 9:"Derecho y Politica en Sociedades Multiculturales":

    La Revista de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias Políticas (Cusco) es publicada desde 1948 por la Universidad de San Antonio Abad. Está abierta a trabajos intelectuales originales, no publicados anteriormente, con una amplia visión teórica desde las variadas ópticas de las ciencias del Derecho, y desde una perspectiva plural. Prioriza la producción académica sobre temas trascendentales para la realidad Andina y Latinoamericana.

  • 18 Dec 2018 15:57 | Monica Natalia Acosta Garcia (Administrator)

    The conference aims to investigate the plural nature of law and development as a field of study, meaning and practice. As in prior conferences, it shall bring together a variety of researchers from the Global South and North who share an interest in law and development. We particularly encourage speakers from the Global South to participate and further pluralize the field and the network. We invite contributions to two tracks of themes:

    A specific track will focus on reflections about the ‘field’ of law and development including on:

    - Histories of law and development
    - Bridging theory and practice in law and development
    - Teaching law and development
    - Intra- and inter-disciplinarity in law and development
    - Dealing with plurality in our research

    A general track is open to any issue raised by proposals including on themes such as: - Human rights, access to justice, and legal empowerment - Diversity, gender, and non-discrimination - Non-state law and legal pluralism - International law and development (e.g. economic law, institutional law of development cooperation) -Technology and digitalization

    SUBMISSIONS: We invite proposals on any theme within the two tracks. Proposals can be for fully formed panels or individual papers. The organizers also invite expressions of interest for two additional formats, namely ‘Practitioner Conversations’ and ‘Book Launch Conversations’. DEADLINE: Proposals and expressions of interest should be submitted by 15 February 2019 - in accordance with the formats described on our webpage (see below).

    CONTACT: Please e-mail your submissions or questions to berlinconference.rewi@hu-berlin.de

    TRAVEL STIPENDS: A limited number of travel stipends for speakers based in countries of the Global South will be available. Applications should be submitted together with paper proposals.

    DECISIONS about papers and funding applications will be announced in April 2019.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION on conference themes, submissions and stipends see https://ldrn2019berlin.wordpress.com/ For more on the network see https://lawdev.org/

  • 29 Nov 2018 21:51 | Pamela Teutli (Administrator)

    Sponsored by Stanford Law School, the International Junior Faculty Forum (IJFF) was established to stimulate the exchange of ideas and research among younger legal scholars from around the world. We live today in a global community– in particular, a global legal community. The IJFF is designed to foster transnational legal scholarship that surmounts barriers of time, space, legal traditions and cultures, and to create an engaged global community of scholars. The Twelfth IJFF will be held at Stanford Law School in fall 2019 (the exact date has not yet been fixed, but it will probably be in October). 

    In order to be considered for the 2019 International Junior Faculty Forum, authors must meet the following criteria:

    • Citizen of a country other than the United States
    • Current academic institution is outside of the United States
    • Not currently a student in the United States
    • Have held a faculty position or the equivalent, including positions comparable to junior faculty positions in research institutions, for less than seven years as of 2019; and
    • Last degree earned less than ten years before 2019.

    Papers may be on any legally relevant subject and can make use of any relevant approach: they can be quantitative or qualitative, sociological, anthropological, historical, or economic. The host institution is committed to intellectual, methodological, and regional diversity, and welcomes papers from junior scholars from all parts of the world. Please note, however, that already published papers are not eligible for consideration. We particularly welcome work that is interdisciplinary.
    Those who would like to participate in the IJFF must first submit an abstract of the proposed paper. Abstracts should be no more than two (2) pages long and must be in English. The abstract should provide a roadmap of your paper—it should tell us what you plan to do, lay out the major argument of the paper, say something about the methodology, and indicate the paper’s contribution to scholarship. The due date for abstracts is Friday, February 15, 2019, although earlier submissions are welcome. To submit your abstract, please complete our ABSTRACT SUBMISSION FORM.
    After the abstracts have been reviewed, we will invite, no later than the end of March 2019, a number of junior scholars to submit full papers of no more than 15,000 words, electronically, in English, by mid-May 2019. Please include a word count for final papers. There is no fixed number of papers to be invited, but in the past years, up to 50 invitations have been issued from among a much larger number of abstracts.
    An international committee of legal scholars will review the papers and select approximately ten papers for full presentation at the conference, where two senior scholars will comment on each paper. After the remarks of the commentators, all of the participants, junior and senior alike, will have a chance to join in the discussion. One of the most valuable—and enjoyable—aspects of the Forum, in the opinion of many participants, has been the chance to meet junior and senior scholars and to talk about your work and theirs.
    Stanford will cover expenses of travel, including airfare, lodging, and food, for each participant. Questions should be directed to ijff@law.stanford.edu.

  • 19 Oct 2018 17:52 | Pável H. Valer Bellota

    La revista de Derecho YachaQ -del Centro de Investigación de los Estudiantes de Derecho (CIED) de la Universidad Nacional de San Antonio Abad del Cusco (Perú)- ha lanzado su Call of Papers. Reúne artículos de distintas ramas del Derecho, y otorga un espacio especial a las investigaciones de Sociología Jurídica. La revista de Derecho Yachaq, es una importante publicación, que desde su primera edición en el año 2000 ha brindado importante contenido de creación y difusión del conocimiento del campo jurídico. El CIED invita a académicos, investigadores, del Derecho a presentar sus trabajos para la 9na Edición de la Revista de Derecho YachaQ. 

    Más Información:  CALL OF PAPERS

  • 16 Oct 2018 16:54 | Izabela Zonato Villas Boas

    Interviewed by: Izabela Zonato Villas Boas

    Lucero Ibarra Rojas is Professor-Researcher at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE – México). She holds a PhD in Law & Society at the University of Milan (2015), a Master's in Sociology of Law at the Oñati International Institute for the Sociology of Law (2010), and a First Degree in Law at the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo (2008). She is editor of Sortuz Oñati Journal of Emergent Socio-Legal Studies and founding member of the Latin American Network on Sociology of Law and the Collective Emancipations on Critical Studies of Law and the Humanities. She has developed and published research on intellectual property, cultural policy, women on the legal profession and feminist mobilization.

    How did you get to where you are today?

    I’m a professor-researcher in Mexico City. I think that I’ve been very luck, that’s important to say. One of the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that you need to be prepared and you need to be good, but there is a lot of luck also involved. When I was in high school I had a very good professor in Social Economical Problems in Mexico and he recommended, based in a paper that I wrote, that I should study Sociology of Law, starting by Law and going on to Sociology, what would give me a better approach. Besides this, at the time in Mexico, there was not many people doing research in law, so financing and PhD were easier to get. So I did. I went to Law School, and as soon as I finished, I started to look for a master in sociology and Oñati came up on the search. Here I met a lot of people, I expanded what I knew about so many things. After finishing the master, I did a PhD in Law and Society in Milan, in the Renato Treves program. Finishing the PhD I think was the hardest part of my academic career, because you face a lot of uncertainty. I was again very lucky, because CIDE was looking for someone that fited in my profile, a social-legal researcher that did qualitative work, so I applied and I work there now and it is one of the best institutions in México to do socio-legal research.

    What is the experience of giving classes where you have already taken classes?

    Honestly, is like a dream come true, because Oñati was a big opportunity for me. It was the first place where, academically speaking, I felt very comfortable. It happened because of the connection between the institution, students, professors and the Oñati environment. So being the editor of Sortuz or coming to teach is particularly significant to me, more than if it was any other institution. Coming here I met the most brilliant and interesting people that I’ve ever met. The best researchers and the most talent students. When in that environment, having them also think that you can do this, that you are able to bring something to this academic environment, is one of the biggest satisfactions. It is also great to see how capable the students are. And also because this community has helped me grow a lot. Every time that I’m involved with something that has to do with Oñati, I learn a lot. The kind of academic environment of many of the Oñati graduates, former and visiting scholars is one that is not the predatory sort of academic environment which wants to bring people down. To me every environment related with Oñati is about ‘how to help others and to be better myself’. I’ve grown a lot thanks to the Institute.

    Do you think that the fact of being in the other side of the table before helps you to understand the students?

    I hope so, because this program is very particular, different of what you can get in other places, and I hope by the fact that I’ve done this before, and other professors have done this before, it helps to be more sensitive or more sensible about how people are living this experience; and help bringing understanding but also encouragement. Because we know this is not an easy program, but we also know that is very worthy. That you will look back 10 years from now and say “that was a good decision where I grew and learned a lot, that changed my life”. This Master helps, it makes you better as a scholar, but maybe also as a person.

    What do you wish that you knew before starting as a professor/academic?

    Perhaps, I think, I wish that I could met you guys before, know the students, their context and interest. That could be helpful also in the way that you think a course. You want to make your course into something that is interesting for the students, because I don’t believe in the notion that it’s my course and I decide what is interesting or what is important. To an extent I do those things, but to another extent I want the students to be interested, I want to deal to the kind of issues and problems that the students find important. So one thing that could be useful would be to know a bit more about them; but on the other hand, it is good to know you in the interaction. One good thing about being a former student is the fact that I knew that you are coming from different parts of the world, that language can be an issue. We need to consider that you have different perspectives.

    What advice do you give to students who want to pursue an academic career like you?

    The first thing is that you have to enjoy this process and this fantastic opportunity, and to think about what you want to be, the world is full of opportunities. Enjoy the space of curiosity and try to find what makes you passionately interested and that you want to pursue and you want to know more. I think that it is a very enjoyable thing, and sometimes we are so concerned with getting the paper, getting the project, that you don’t stop to say “well, I’ve learned so much and I’m having so many questions and this is awesome”.The second one is being more kind with yourself. Especially because of the pressure of academic life, we tend to be very hard and often punish ourselves when we fail.

  • 4 Sep 2018 15:59 | Anonymous

    September has come with exciting news - on the one hand, The IISL is proud to announce that ANVUR, Italy's National Evaluation Agency for University and Research, has acknowledged the scientific level of Oñati Socio-legal Series and placed it in the category of upper class journals (Class 'A' journals) in both the legal-philosophical and sociological sectors. This is an important achievement, which has been the result of the hard work of Luigi Cominelli, Vincenzo Ferrari and Cristina Ruiz, among others.

    On the other hand, on 1 September has come a third output of the journal, which, under the title Les enjeux de la ritualisation judiciaire. Une réflexion sur les formes du procès, deals with several issues that surround the judicial ritualisation. The monograph has been coordinated by Diane Bernard (Saint-Louis University of Brussels, Belgium).

  • 3 Jul 2018 19:18 | Tanya Monforte

    The 2018 Law & Society meeting held at the Toronto Sheraton must have been one of the largest meetings of the association. It was an extremely well organized, massive conference with enriching panels throughout. However, one can get lost in the shear numbers of panels and bodies. I found myself circulating through the various hallways, winding up and down the many levels to find the meeting rooms—searching out a new bit of research, a refreshing new twist on method. By the end, hitting maximum conference saturation I was not sure I could meet one more person or discuss one more research topic. However, there was one dinner I would not miss irrespective of my level of conference fatigue—that was the Oñati gathering. 

    Irene Torres, our resident Torontonian, generously organized the dinner, and we gathered, most of us strangers, to drink a few beers and eat dinner together. In classic Oñati fashion, we did not remain strangers for long. As people trickled in, bags of Oñati paraphernalia kept materializing filled with t-shirts, chocolate bars, and book bags until Angela Melville decided she would conduct a quiz to distribute the Oñati loot. Santiago Amietta remembered some of the questions that were asked such as,

    Name a professional cyclist from Oñati; How do you say red wine in Euskera; What is the capital of Russia; Name a gastronomical society you know

    Over the chocolate bar Santiago won and shared with the group, I asked several people how they ended up in Oñati. My natural desire to document and categorize these stories led me to one anecdotal observation: many of the stories of the ways people passed through the Institute started with love. One person had to finish his military service before meeting up with his partner who was in Madrid and found Oñati as a refuge for him to be with his partner, another because of love of a mother who came from the Basque Country, and another because she fell for a Basque boy. These stories were compelling, but what was even more striking was that even the stories that started out by a chance encounter such as a flip comment that changed one's trajectory, turned into a love relationship in the end.


    The stories of the institute kept coming back to love and the emotional ties that bind us to this place because of affection for the institution, the town, and the people we know or knew there. These are the bonds that make Oñati special and enduring. Lucero Ibarra Rojas very elegantly put it like this,

    The Oñati Dinner was the social activity that I was most looking forward to in Toronto during the LSA, not only because it is a great opportunity to see old friends, but also because I got to meet some new Oñati friends. While the Oñati crowd does tend to look for each other in academic activities, it is my experience that since these dinners are organised we are more aware of who is around and it is very good to have a set time in which we are sure we will meet. It is also great to share a space in which we get together regardless of age differences or our roles. This is very much like Oñati: students, young scholars and very well established professors sharing anecdotes and fond memories of a place that gives us something in common.

  • 13 Jun 2018 14:06 | Johannes Feest

    Short presentation by Johannes Feest (University of Bremen, Germany)
    at the international Seminar on “Justicia Restaurativa y Prisión”, organized by the Ministry of Justice of the Basque Country, June 4, 2018.

    The author is part of a group of criminologist from different parts of Europe. In the context of the conference “Abolitionist Futures: Building Social Justice Not Criminal Justice” (ICOPA 2018) we are presenting the book
    Massimo Pavarini & Livio Ferrari (eds.) NO Prison. London: EGPress 2018. 

    I. Prison as a punishment is an obsolete social technology

    The invention of the prison as a penal institution (pentitentiary) dates back some 400 years. It can be seen as a step in the right direction when the main task was to abolish the death penalty as the main form of punishment. But today, we must admit that it has become obsolete for several reasons. I will make a long story short, but you will be able to check the details in our book.

    • ·         The deprivation of liberty as a punishment does not fulfill its proclaimed goals, i.e. rehabilitation, deterrence, reduction of crime. It is instead known as a powerful instrument of de-socialization
    • ·         Furthermore, imprisonment violates fundamental human rights: it involves forced labour, forced celibacy and imposed poverty. Long term imprisonment must even be seen as a form of torture.
    • ·         Finally, imprisonment leads to the co-punishment of third parties: children, spouses, parents, friends, employers etc.

    All of this is well-known. There exists a lot of research to prove what I have just said. While some researchers still try to prove that imprisonment has some beneficial effects in some cases under special conditions, they leave aside the other negative effects mentioned. But, among politicians and the general population the prison institution is still widely considered to “work”.

    II. How shall we deal with these findings?

    Those of you, who agree more or less with what I have said so far, will ask: what can we do with, how can we react to such a failed institution?

    The usual answer will be: we have to find alternatives to the prison institution. There is some truth to that, as I will explain in a moment. But I believe that, before looking for alternatives, we need to adopt an “abolitionist stance” (to use a word coined by the great Norwegian sociologis and abolitionst Thomas Mathiesen). That means: saying NO to all inhuman institutions.

    In the past such a primarily moral stance has worked with other institutions. Who would have thought that slavery could ever be overcome as an economic device? Who would have predicted that torture would be outlawed as an instrument of criminal law? Who would have believed that Europe could ever be an area free of capital punishment?

    If such fundamental changes were possible in the past, why not in the future a society. Even a world without prisons?

    III. Some prisons are here to stay a little longer

    But to convince a sufficient part of the population to abandon the idea that prisons serve a useful purpose will take a long time. In order not to appear naive, we should admit that not all forms of imprisonment are doomed to be redundant. At least the following types of confinement have at least some future:

    • ·         as long as we conduct criminal trials, we will want to have some forms of pre-trial detention (if there are no other ways to secure the presence of the accused at the trial)
    • ·         as long as we have people that pose a concrete and grave danger to themselves or to others, we will want to have some form of quarantaine (and try to keep that as short as possible)
    • ·         and as long as we have wars and make prisoners in that context, we will want some sort of P.O.W. camps (and make sure that the standards of international humantitarian law are upheld).

    In what follows, I will concentrate on the question how to get rid of penitentiaries, i.e. prisons as a form of punishment. This should not make us forget the evil of administrative detention, which, in some states (e.g. Egypt, China, Israel and USA/Guantanamo) constitutes a form of extra-judicial punishment.

    IV. Practical strategies to abolish penitentiaries

    There are a number of ways that are available to achieve this goal. And they are not mutually exclusive, but should be used simultaneously, e.g.

    • ·         a first step is to reduce the total character of the prison institution, i.e. to adapt the conditions of confinement as much as possible to outside standards. A prison sentence should consist in the deprivation of liberty and nothing more (as it is laid down in the European Prison Rules).
    • ·         another step would be give sentenced offenders the option to “do time” outside institutions. Instead of serving a prison sentence, they could spend the time doing community work, reparation, therapy, training etc.
    • ·         even more important: large scale decriminalization is called for. A logical starting point would “crimes without victims” like drug offences, which could be dealt with as a health problem rather than a crime problem. This alone would eliminate about half of the present prison population in Europe.
    • ·         another approach would be to release all prisoners who do not pose a clear and present danger to society. That does not mean that they will go unpunished, but that they serve their sanctions in the community (see above).
    • ·         as I said before: only those who present a grave danger to themselves or to others need to be confined in some sort of quarantaine. But because of our limited ability to predict future behavior, we need new principles, e.g. a presumption of non-dangerousness (in analogy to the presumption of innocence).

    V. Brief reminder of the Massachusetts experiment

    To get rid of penitentiaries, we will first of all need courageous and creative civil servants and politicians Let me therefor conclude with the example of one such person: Jerome Miller (1931-2015).

    Jerome Miller became in 1970 head of the Youth Services in the State of Massachusetts. Among other things, he was responsible for the two juvenile prisons of the state, one called “reformatory”, the other “industrial school”. He decided to do away with both of these institutions. His way to go about this seems to me very instructive. He formed a committee of academics and practitioners, which held its sessions at the university. One by one the juvenile delinquents were brought before this committee. There, the committee members looked carefully into every single case and decided what was best for the juvenile (e.g. therapy? education? Work counselling? Placement in a foster family?). At the end of two years, they had found alternatives for every single person. And the prisons were closed down (and never reopened). I think that the Massachusetts experiment can serve as a model for doing away of other prison-like institution (for juveniles as well as for adults). There may be obstacles to such a procedure in other parts of the world. But the main lecture we can learn from it is this:
    We need not think of a “perfect” system of alternatives beforehand, but rather find the alternatives in a case-by case process.  This would be in keeping with the notion of „the unfinished“, which constitutes a central part of Thomas Mathiesen’s philosophy of abolition (see: The Politics of Abolition Revisited. Routledge: London and New York 2015, 21 ff).

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