By John Harrington and Lizzy Wilmington, for the Cardiff Organising Committee

Cardiff School of Law and Politics are delighted to host the SLSA UK Annual Conference from 30th March to 1st April next.

Celebrating 50 years of Law at Cardiff University, conference plenaries invite conference-goers to reflect on contemporary challenges with presentations from distinguished scholars on: justice and the COVID-19 pandemic; the legacy of empire for law and politics in the UK; race and the law school curriculum; and the tasks for socio-legal scholarship and teaching.

Each plenary is informed by Cardiff’s global connections: Tiger Bay, one of the oldest communities of colour in Britain; renowned singer, civil rights campaigner, and honorary Welshman, Paul Robeson; and contemporary movements for racial justice; as well as the School’s own tradition of scholarship, teaching and publication on law and society, and global justice.

Human Rights, Social Justice & COVID-19 brings three leading advocates for socio-economic justice together, drawing on a wealth of academic, policy and practitioner experience. Professor Lawrence Gostin, a leader in global health law, Ann James, a social worker, academic and policy lead for people in need of care and support in Wales, and Professor Michael Fakhri, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food and a noted practitioner of Third World Approaches to International Law, will reflect critically on legal responses to COVID-19 around the world, including state coercion, deprivation of income and nutrition, and the gendered distribution of these burdens.

Image: 1930’s school infant group, accessed via The Heritage & Cultural Exchange Archive

Race, Place and Nation in the UK, is a roundtable on empire and contemporary British identity led by two fierce campaigners for racial justice in the UK. Gaynor Legall is a councillor and community organiser, expert on Black history and chair of the Welsh Government task force on streetnames. Dr Nadine El-Enany writes prolifically on race and immigration law and is the author of the acclaimed (B)ordering Britain: Law, Race and Empire (Manchester University Press).

Image: Paul Robeson’s ‘Proud Valley’ movie poster

Decolonising the Law School: Lessons from the work of Paul Robeson sees Professor Penelope Andrews, current President of the Law and Society Association, joined by Professor Daniel Williams, an authority on Welsh culture and its global connections, and Dr Foluke Adebisi, a pioneering scholar on decolonising the law school. They will explore challenges of legal professionalism and legal education through the frame of Paul Robeson’s immense life and work as a recovering lawyer and talented performer, all the while fighting racial and class injustice in Wales, the USA and globally.

Socio-Legal Studies in a Time of Emergency is the theme of our closing plenary lecture, delivered by Professor Patricia Tuitt an independent scholar and former head of law at Birkbeck. She will chart the challenges for our community in this time of multiple reinforcing crises. A map of theoretical, paedagogical and institutional challenges for socio-legal studies, is called for. So too is an account of our capacity for resilience and resistance in difficult times.

This will be the first SLSA UK conference on-line. Our on-line conference format will allow colleagues from around the world to participate, making this a truly global gathering. Delivered through the high-quality Virt-US platform, it will allow real-time, in-person discussion and networking. Recognizing current challenges to inclusion and accessibility we have reduced registration fees by more than a half.

We are proud of the linguistic diversity of  Welsh life. Our conference website and social media output is bilingual in Welsh and English. The website will host features marking the history of Law at Cardiff, and the central contribution of the Journal of Law and Society, an online exhibition on the life of Robeson and a graphic novel depicting the Cardiff 1919 ‘race riots’, as well as an exhibition of items on law and justice from the archive at Cardiff University.

Looking forward to welcoming you to Cardiff SLSA 2021. Creoso mawr i bawb!