Recent UW Law Faculty Scholarship: Gerrylaundering, Indian Legal History, Injustice in the Child Welfare System, and the Development of Comparative Sociology of Law and Critical Legal Studies

Here is the latest faculty scholarship appearing in the University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies Research Papers series found on SSRN.

  • Gerrylaundering by Robert Yablon, UW Law School
    This Article introduces the concept of “gerrylaundering” to describe mapmakers’ efforts to lock-in their favorable position by preserving key elements of the existing map. Gerrylaundering and gerrymandering both serve anti-competitive ends, but they do so through different means. Unlike gerrymandering, gerrylaundering requires no conspicuous cracking and packing of disfavored voters. Instead, it involves what this Article dubs locking and stocking: Mapmakers lock in prior district configurations to the extent possible and stock each new district with one incumbent. Based on a review of redistricting practice in all fifty states, this Article concludes that gerrylaundering is widespread and that self-serving mapmakers commonly combine gerrylaundering and gerrymandering techniques in varying proportions to achieve their preferred results.
  • Indian Law by Mitra Sharafi, UW Law School
    This chapter considers what the future holds for the field of Indian legal history, which has burgeoned since the late 1990s. It explores opportunities for methodological innovation through digital history, oral history, and collaboration between scholars. These approaches promise to counterbalance certain patterns that have developed to date, particularly the heavy reliance on written English-language records from the colonial period. It suggests that the future of Indian legal history looks bright, particularly if scholars are willing to experiment and re-tool. By working together, turning outward, and acquiring the skills to engage with new media and techniques, scholars can continue to re-imagine and re-invigorate the field of Indian legal history.
  • Survived & Coerced: Epistemic Injustice in the Family Regulation System by S. Lisa Washington, UW Law School Hastie Fellow
    Calls to defund the police in the summer of 2020 were quickly followed by calls to fund social service agencies. Some included the funding of the family regulation apparatus. These demands fail to consider the shared carceral logic of the family regulation and criminal legal system. I utilize the term family regulation system to more accurately describe the surveillance apparatus that is commonly referred to as the “child welfare system”. By using this term, I highlight that the family regulation system not only intersects with but mirrors the criminal legal system.
    This article analyzes knowledge production within the family regulation system through the framework of epistemic injustice theory. Epistemic injustice theory examines how hegemonic power structures discredit and subjugate marginalized knowledge. I make the novel argument that the concept of a survivor’s “lack of insight” into their own abuse is a form of epistemic injustice. The cycle of subjugating marginalized knowledge is embedded in a carceral power structure that pathologizes poor mothers and labels them “weak” and “dependent”. I argue that the dismantling of epistemic injustice will require more than mere counter-narratives. In response to the current reckoning with carceral systems, a growing social movement led by directly impacted parents, demands an end to their silencing and the crediting of their knowledge.
  • The Short Happy Life of the Yale Program in Law and Modernization: From the Cold War to Comparative Legal Sociology and Critical Legal Studies by David M. Trubek and Boaventura de Sousa Santos, UW Law School with Richard L. Abel, Bryant Garth, Afroditi Giovanopoulou, and Duncan Kennedy
    In 1969, the Yale Law School received a $1,000,000 grant from the United States Agency for International Development for a Program in Law and Modernization. Yale promised to study legal impediments to modernization, assess legal needs of modernization projects, train lawyers for research and development work, and disseminate knowledge. The Program was conceived by David Trubek and William Felstiner, former USAID lawyer-administrators, who, along with Richard Abel, ran it.
    Launched in the shadow of the Cold War, it started with the implicit promise of diffusing US liberal ideas about law and transplanting US legal institutions and culture, and was seemingly aligned with US foreign policy. Linked with the nascent Law and Society Association, it sought to create a Comparative Sociology of Law. There were vigorous debates ranging from the nature of law and social science to the role of the US in the Third World, all on a campus roiled by student protests over the War in Vietnam and racism in the US. Gradually, the Program became a locus for critique of liberal ideas about law and social science, a source of doubts about US foreign policy, and an incubator for critical studies in law and legal sociology.

To access all the papers in the University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series, please use the following URL: