Monday, July 30, 2007

Back From Berlin

After spending about 6 hours at Newark's ironically named Liberty International Airport last night, I am finally back from the Law and Society Meeting in Berlin. Here are some jet-lagged thoughts:

  • It's all about the hallways. I've been going to LSA meetings since 1994 (I remember watching the OJ White Bronco chase from the swim-up bar at the Arizona Biltmore with a number of equally mesmerized colleagues that year. -- I don't remember taking peyote, but that was the most hallucinatory moment of my life). LSA is always a very amorphous meeting -- the LSA umbrella is so big at this point that I'd imagine there are very few in the legal academy today who do work that couldn't be presented at LSA. Thus, the meeting can feel very disjointed, with lots of sub-groups and cliques. I spent lots of time catching up with old friends and meeting a number of people I know only through their work or their blogs, but it feels now more than ever like LSA is a number of different meetings that just happen to be occurring in the same time and space.
  • "New" is the new "(Re). The joke used to be that every LSA panel featured the phrase "(Re)Imagining" "(Re)Conceptualizing " or "(Re)Evaluating" in the title. Now, the thing seems to be "New". So there were panels on, at least, the "New Legal Realism," the "New Formalism," the "New Governance" and the "New Punitiveness". (Jeff Lipshaw has a very good post this morning on the "New Formalism" panel on which he appeared.)
  • Berlin is an incredibly evocative place. I know that there was a lot of discussion before the meeting about whether people of color could feel comfortable in Berlin in light of the recent racist attacks that have been taking place there. For those of us who are Jewish, being in Berlin presented a very different set of concerns. My mother was born in Berlin and left with her family in 1939, a full year after Kristallnacht; so it was strange to me that my comfortable and luxurious hotel was 2 blocks from the former SS headquarters, where the killing of Europe's Jews was meticulously plotted and carried out. The city is both full of reminders of the atrocities that were carried out there -- it has numerous monuments to the victims of the holocaust -- and in other ways completely detached from its past. For example, unless you knew its history, there are very few hints that 20 years ago a wall divided the city in two. Again, Jeff Lipshaw (whose family history seems eerily similar to my own) wrote about this some at Prawfsblog.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home