PGR reflects on participation at annual conference in Portsmouth

Jiaqi Zhang, postgraduate researcher, shares his experience at the annual Socio-Legal Scholars Association (SLCA) at the University of Portsmouth.

The University of Portsmouth hosted this year’s annual Socio-Legal Scholars Association (SLSA) conference from March 26 to 28, bringing together leading scholars and researchers in the field of socio-legal studies. Since its inception in 1990, the SLSA conference has been a cornerstone event for the dissemination of knowledge within this academic discipline, rotating each year to different academic institutions across the UK.

The conference attracted numerous attendees from the University of LeedsSchool of Law, including postgraduate students, researchers, and alumni. Attendees included Alex Batesmith, Dr Trevor Clark, Dr Kisby Dickinson, Dr Chris Dietz, Dr Rosie Fox, Dr James Greenwood-Reeves, Professor Jen Hendry, Professor Marie-Andrée Jacob, Clare James, Dr Amanda Keeling, Courtney Leader, Dr Amrita Limbu, Dr Jack Meakin, Professor Alex NicholsonRachael O'Connor, Dr Liz Oliver (LUBS Lecturer and School of Law alumna), Professor Jose Pina-Sánchez, Dr Priyasha Saksena, Dr Rebecca Shaw, Dr Mitchell Travis, Dr Joshua Warburton and Jiaqi Zhang, one of the postgraduate researchers who presented his doctoral research on law and emotion.

Jiaqi Zhang's presentation, titled ‘What is the Truth? Reason and Emotion in Laws’ explored the integration of emotion into legal practices, employing Karen Barad’s agential realism theory.

Classical legal theories have traditionally excluded emotions, viewing them as subjective and unreliable, in contrast to the perceived objectivity of reason. As such, Jiaqi’s research challenges this dichotomy, arguing that both emotion and reason are integral to the practice of knowing and understanding truth in legal contexts.

As Jiaqi explains in his abstract,

Without the static boundary of subjectivity and objectivity, both reason and emotion are the reactions of the practice of knowing from inside the phenomenon, merely with different forms; they remind legal practitioners about the different aspects of truth. Considering both reason and emotion is an ontological requirement that will help legal practitioners understand what actually happened.

When asked about his experience at the conference, Jiaqi shares several highlights,

The conference provided an opportunity to discuss my research with some of the top minds in the field. Their questions and advice were invaluable. Additionally, I got to learn about other fascinating research, and network with colleagues, which is always beneficial.

Additionally, Jiaqi emphasized the importance of conferences for academic development, saying,

The questions I received during my presentation were very inspiring, helping me identify key points I had previously overlooked. I plan to incorporate this feedback into my thesis, enhancing the quality of my research.

For other postgraduate students in the field, Jiaqi highly recommends attending such conferences, recognising,

Networking is crucial. Discussing your research with scholars outside your supervision team can reveal new perspectives and help you see your work more holistically. It’s an excellent platform to practice presenting your research to a broader audience.

The School of Law is proud to see many of our community members participating in conferences like this one. To learn more about the research at the School of Law, please click here.