It gives me immense pleasure to be the first to contribute to this new ‘Where Are We’ section. The Oñati Community is a truly international one – with its members located across the globe – but bound together across regions and generations by their time or times spent at Oñati. Since leaving IISL in 2018, I have repeatedly found that the town, its residents, and the Institute, occupy an exceptionally fond place in the memories of those who have visited and experienced it. And many of us find ourselves returning periodically to study, teach, present research, or just to over-indulge in pintxo-pote with old friends.
Following my time in Oñati, I returned home to Scotland before moving to London for work. I began to think about possible doctoral study amidst the mundane rhythms of tube travel – recurrent passages rattling up and down subterranean Victorian tunnels against the staggering contrapuntal motion of the city – a sensory assault, particularly in light of my tranquil time in Oñati. I had spent much of the previous two years thinking about tradition and temporalities, in law and more generally, but I found myself on station platforms returning to previous work on space and place with a new direction, impulse, and energy: a conceptualisation of movement.
My doctoral project began to emerge from these reflections, and in hindsight I am glad that I took both time and space to seriously reflect upon my proposed course of study since it would, of course, form the bulk of my academic efforts for the coming four to five years. I applied to the University of Oxford in 2020, and was accepted as a DPhil candidate at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and Wolfson College, under the supervision of Professor Linda Mulcahy, the leading Socio-Legal scholar of legal architecture. Now in my second year as a DPhil, I have refined my focus to exploring the significance of our physical movement within the court building (utilising one core case study) – drawing upon legal architecture, the jurisprudence of the senses, and the application of qualitative mobile methods.
Despite the inevitable impact of the pandemic upon normal operations, Oxford has continued to be a vibrant, albeit sometimes dispersed and digital, Socio-Legal community. In addition to its regular lectures, seminar series, and discussion group meetings, the Centre has launched a new website and blog this year, Frontiers of Socio-Legal Studies. As an editor of this innovative resource, it has been a privilege to work with established academics, emerging scholars, and even true luminaries of the field. This year I have also joined another active law and society community at The Open University, as an Associate Lecturer on its course, ‘Law, Society and Culture’.
In addition to Socio-Legal studies, I retain a number of research interests within sociology of law, legal and social theory, and law and the humanities. Beyond my current research upon movement, I focus on space and place, time and temporalities, the legal professions, and (clinical) legal education. I am also interested in public legal education, law reform, and access to justice and am a contributor to the Oxford Pro Bono Working Group and the Scottish Legal Action Group (SCOLAG) Legal Journal.
Most recently, I have presented my academic work at the 6th TAU Workshop for Junior Scholars in Law, Legal Change in Revolutionary Times; the International Research Network on Conservatism and Critical Theory, Conservatism and Critical Theory in the 21st Century: Commonalities and Divergence; the Art/Law Network, Borderlands in Theory and the Everyday; and at the 2021 annual conference of the UK Socio-Legal Studies Association.
Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford