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Keywords:

  • legal geography;
  • law;
  • geography;
  • materiality;
  • relationality;
  • Australia

Abstract

Law is a powerful influence on people and place. Law both creates and is created by the relationship between people and place, although it rarely acknowledges this. Law frequently operates as if space does not matter. Law and legal processes, therefore, deserve greater attention from geographers. Legal geography is an emerging field of inquiry that facilitates much-needed attention to the interrelationships among the environment, people and social institutions, including formal laws but also informal rules, norms and lore. Legal geographers seek to make the invisible visible: to bring the law into the frame of geography, and space and place into focus for the law. Both critical and applied in approach, legal geography offers descriptive, analytical and normative insight into economics, justice, property, power, geopolitics, governance and scale. As such it can enrich most areas of geographic inquiry as well as contribute to current policy debates about the regulation of space and place. Legal geography is a way for enlarged appreciations of relationality, materiality, multiscalarity and agency to be used to interrogate and reform the law. This introduction to a special ‘themed paper’ section of Geographical Research provides a window on legal geography scholarship, including its history, contribution and ambition. The papers in the collection explore issues grounded in the legal geographies paradigm, variously analysing matters empirically detailed while engaging in broader, theoretical debates and using both Australian and international case studies.