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Tracing lines in the lawscape: Registration/pilgrimage and the sacred/secular of law/space

Smith, Jessica (2020) Tracing lines in the lawscape: Registration/pilgrimage and the sacred/secular of law/space. The Sociological Review, . ISSN 0038-0261. (doi:10.1177/0038026120915705) (KAR id:81129)

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The aim of this paper is to draw upon sacred/secular ‘journeying’ to explore the inherent movement invoked by the state’s documentation of the life course. In tracing this motion, the paper follows two intersecting pathways – the literal travel of those who register a life event and the figurative ‘journeying’ of legal identity. The argument develops from a case study conducted at the Beaney House of Art & Knowledge (Canterbury, UK): a museum, gallery, library, café, community exhibition, tourist information point, and registration hub. But rather than using the building as a frame, to follow more closely the activity of registrars and citizens, I locate imaginative potential in the Beaney’s ‘tessellating’ spaces. Accordingly, the spatial account which is developed is ‘fictive’ in its very nature and offers an implicit critique of a bureaucratic act of governance embedded with legal fiction. In doing so, the paper contributes to critical work on registration which deploys the language of ‘journeying’ to outline the performative force of state documentation, and more broadly, to spatial approaches which illustrate patterns of movement within the ‘lawscape’ (Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, 2015). The paper argues that the ‘journeying’ of registration represents a pilgrimage, whereby individuals are ‘called’ to bureaucratic space at the centre of their local sphere, and the certificates they take with them, much like the badges of medieval pilgrims, are ‘takeaway tokens’ of the state – documents which impress legal identities upon us.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0038026120915705
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: Jessica Smith
Date Deposited: 05 May 2020 17:30 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:12 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Smith, Jessica:
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