Centre for Law & Social Justice Annual Lecture 2019 - The Future(s) of Social Justice: Addressing Eco-Social Fragmentation and Rift

The Centre for Law & Social Justice is delighted to announce that Professor Margaret Davies, Flinders University, Adelaide will deliver the Centre’s Annual Lecture for 2019.

The connections between social and environmental injustice have been understood for a very long time: it is vulnerable communities who feel the first effects of waste, deforestation, and pollution. Environmental damage has now accumulated to such a point that no-one can escape its effects, though privileged people continue to transfer the costs to those who are less privileged. The future landscape of social and environmental justice is difficult to conceptualise, given an increasingly fragile social compact that treats justice as a zero-sum game with winners and losers. A fractured political discourse based on entrenched interests makes the task more complex. Two concepts drawn from social-ecological scholarship may help to diagnose and address some of the present and future problems of eco-social justice. ‘Fragmentation’ refers to the loss and degradation of the habitat of nonhuman life. It is also a useful concept for understanding the fracturing of the material conditions for human life in a modern globalized world. The notion of ‘metabolic rift’ refers to a break in the human-nonhuman circulation of natural materials, brought on by industrial agriculture and urbanisation. These related ideas provide a frame for exploring the state of social and environmental justice and the role played by legal forms such as private property in obstructing change. In this lecture, and drawing on current research with my two Australian collaborators (Lee Godden and Nicole Graham), I will present a view of property as human and nonhuman habitat. This approach aims to use the law to help recreate the conditions for the constructive inter-dependence of social and environmental goods.

Margaret Davies is Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Law at Flinders University. Margaret was a foundation staff member of the Law School at Flinders University and has been a visiting scholar at Birkbeck College, Umea University, UBC, and Victoria University of Wellington, and has held a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship at the University of Kent. She has been a recipient of four Australian Research Council grants and is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and the Australian Academy of Law. Margaret is author of five books - Asking the Law Question (4th edition 2017), Delimiting the Law (1996), Are Persons Property (with Ngaire Naffine, 2001), Property: Meanings, Histories, Theories (2007), and Law Unlimited (2017), winner of the SLSA Theory and History Book Prize.

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