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Chapter 3 - Boycott, Resistance, and the Law

Cause Lawyering in Conflict, Repression, and Transition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2022

Kieran McEvoy
Affiliation:
Queen's University Belfast
Louise Mallinder
Affiliation:
Queen's University Belfast
Anna Bryson
Affiliation:
Queen's University Belfast
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Summary

This chapter examines legal boycotts and other styles of resistant engagement in what were often hopeless legal proceedings. Drawing in particular on the literature on resistance, performance, memory studies, and legal consciousness, as well as cause lawyers, we reflect on the role that law plays, not only as an instrument of struggle but also as a resource for envisioning a better society. We begin by exploring the perspectives of cause lawyers who decided to boycott legal proceedings, the relationship between such boycotts and broader social and political struggles, and the intersection between legal boycotts, legitimacy, and law in such settings. The second part of the chapter then examines why and how cause lawyers engaged in acts of legal resistance, including using courts as sites of instrumental and symbolic resistance, and using law as a form of memory work. In the final section, we explore the dialectic between boycott and resistant engagement and argue that, at the core of both strategies, is a ‘stubborn commitment’ to a vision of law and justice as a viable alternative to violence and repression.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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