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Boundaries and legal authority in a global context

This is a team project within the Crossing Borders theme.


Hans Lindahl (Tilburg) and Louise Du Toit (Stellenbosch)


There is widespread agreement that the enormous growth of cross-border human activities increasingly calls into question the regulatory capacities of the territorial state. Yet the broader conceptual and normative significance of these developments remains the object of protracted debate. One of the central conceptual problems consists in establishing how (spatial) boundaries and boundary contestation continue to play a decisive role in making sense of legal orders in a global context, where processes of inclusion and exclusion are no longer exclusively linked to the forms of closure proper to the territorial state. This decentering of boundaries and boundary contestation from the territorial state raises important conceptual normative questions concerning legal authority. What renders authoritative the acts of setting legal boundaries in a global context? Moreover, what are appropriate and effective institutional mechanisms by which such authority can be contested?


The coordinators have convened a range of leading academics in the field to visit STIAS to reflect on these issues. The visits will be spread out during 2016, 2017 and 2018. Each of the academics will present a working paper on the topic, to be discussed with the other participants in the project, at least some of whom will participate via the state-of-the-art videoconferencing facilities of STIAS. To foster a discussion that is as open as possible, no plans have been made for a volume of the collected papers. Instead, the working papers will be posted on this blog, as will the films of the discussions to which they give rise. The blog invites the broader public to comment on both the working papers and the filmed discussions. In due course the academics will publish amended versions of their working paper, acknowledging their participation in this project. Last but not least, each of the academics will contribute selected bibliographical references germane to the project, and which will be posted in the blog for consultation by those interested in its topic.

Invited academics:

A range of academics from different parts of the world have been invited to participate in the project, of which the following have thus far accepted to participate therein (in alphabetical order):


Fellows involved in this project

Fellow, Visiting scholar
South Africa

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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].