Law & Extractivism In The Anthropocene

This workshop brings together established and emerging scholars to explore the relationship between law and extractivism in the Anthropocene

La Trobe Law School, Melbourne, Australia

International and Comparative Law Cluster

24 & 25 July 2023

Extractivism, as an organising concept of our times, turns on appropriation, non-reciprocity, depletion, and subjugation. Its ideology and practices are entwined with the histories and legacies of colonialism and imperialism, as well as the entrenched operations and politics of capitalism across time and space. Extractivism has produced a racialised global political economy, characterised by the removal of raw materials from the Global South for processing and consumption in the Global North, reproducing relations of dependency, unequal development and uneven accumulation. An understanding of increasingly intense struggles between states, transnational corporations and local communities over land and place demands an understanding of the dynamics that have shaped the global extractivist economy.

This workshop brings together established and emerging scholars to explore the relationship between law and extractivism in the Anthropocene, a moment of reckoning for human hubris and epistemological hegemony. Taking the dominant definition of extractivism as our point of departure, which affirms a non-reciprocal and hierarchised relation between life and nonlife, human and nonhuman, we invite presentations on the following themes:

  • Critical historical accounts of how laws facilitate resource extraction, including how such laws are globalised and enabled by institutional practices.
  • Theorisation of how such laws are authorised by specific representational practices, knowledges and assumptions and a presumed distinction between life and nonlife.
  • Examinations of the relationship between extractivism and legal regimes in international and comparative perspective, such as property, patents, contract, international economic law.
  • Examinations of connections between law and social movements in resistance to extraction and/or repair of its harm.
  • Explorations of transformation practices and institutions for a non-extractivist legal order and key legal reforms to reorient current dynamics of appropriation and control toward more sustainable and equitable approaches to sharing the Earth’s resources.

Participants are invited to submit an abstract by Friday 31 March 2023. Please submit an abstract (no more than 300 words) and a short bio here. We aim to notify all applicants by 14 April 2023. We ask that accepted participants share a draft of their paper (4000-5000 words) by 9 July 2023, and we aim to explore publication options in an edited collection or journal special issue. Please contact with any questions or queries.

Limited financial assistance may be available upon request, and priority will be given to casual academic workers and scholars working in the Global South.

Organised by Kathleen Birrell, Martin Clark and Julia Dehm.