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2500 Boulevard de l'Université
Sherbrooke, QC, J1K 0A5


What do we mean by “critical” ?

Generally speaking, critical legal theories seek to expose the power relations within law, in all their forms. The CLRL’s objective is to create a dialogue and foster reflection in order to explore the numerous debates and schools of thought associated with critical theories, as well as to facilitate theoretical discussions and concrete projects on the topic. Rather than imposing a more precise definition of what constitutes “critical theories”, the CLRL's participants have the freedom to debate and explore over time the many contours and different perspectives related to these approaches.

What kind of governance, structure, and ethics do you have?

The CLRL’s governance and structure are intended to be officially flexible, horizontal and collaborative. All our members are considered as colleagues and we make a conscious effort to avoid creating a hierarchy between them (for example between professor and student researchers), as well as to maintain a simple and flexible way of operating. Furthermore, our goal is for the activities of the CLRL to be the most ethical, transparent and accessible possible. Here are some of our initiatives towards this goal:

  • Our rates include solidarity rates for those who wish to participate, but who do not have sufficient financial resources to do so. We do not ask for any justification.

  • In the interests of transparency, we seek to publicize the origin of our financial and material resources. This information is available in our annual reports.

  • We favour small local companies, as well as ethical, fair trade and organic products.

  • We adopt the approach of minimal use of environmental, material and financial resources. As such, for example, we do not distribute folders filled with leaflets nor do we distribute promotional products during our events. We favour water pitchers filled with filtered tap water (rather than bottles), reusable glasses and dishes, as well as recycling and composting of organic matter.

  • Considering our values geared towards greater accessibility to all, we invite you to contact us if you have specific needs.

Should you have any suggestions to render our activities even more responsible, from a financial, social and environmental standpoint, please do not hesitate to communicate any ideas you might have!

What kind of questions do you work on ?

Those that encourage the presence of critical legal theories:

  • What are critical legal theories?

  • What is their utility?

  • What are their limits?

  • What are the internal debates and tensions?

  • Where is the frontier between critical legal research projects and research projects that critique law?

  • How do we foster a general discussion on how research projects are produced and received?

  • Does research reproduce certain dominant interests? Which ones and how so?

  • What are the implicit dynamics within research fields, for example as manifestations favouring the reproduction of dominant fields of interest at the expense of marginalized, critical, atypical or innovative groups or visions?

  • What are the implicit power relations within the production of research projects?

  • Why is this so?

  • What are the place and role of the researcher vis-à-vis the populations for which he or she proposes to speak?

  • How can researchers put forward a more reflexive and critical posture in their work?

  • How can we encourage, in the long-term, critical debates and research projects, both in terms of their production and their reception?

Those that foster a greater accessibility to research projects in law:

  • For what and for whom are research projects produced?

  • Is it possible to produce less elitist research projects? If so, how, and if not, why?

  • How can we increase access to research projects for non-jurists and non-specialized jurists?

  • How is it possible to produce research projects that are inclusive of marginal or non-dominant topics of interests?

  • How is it possible to improve the accessibility of research projects for populations that are characterized as ‘marginalized’ or ‘vulnerable’, which are often the research topic of jurists (but that nonetheless remain rarely consulted)?

  • How can we create and diffuse legal knowledge that is formulated and debated in a less hermetic, more accessible language, geared towards an uninitiated public?

  • How can we create knowledge that is accessible through less expensive means (considering the high access cost to databases and publications, as well as conferences, symposia and congresses)?

  • How can we instil a dialogue between researchers and the groups they study?

Those that create opportunities for collaboration, dialogue and creativity between researchers:

  • How can we create opportunities for discussion and a dynamic community between researchers?

  • How can we encourage a greater culture, and improved sharing, of legal knowledge?

  • How can we evaluate the interest generated by critical and innovative projects? How do we implement them?

  • How can we rethink the structure, the language, the method and the diffusion, for example, of research projects?