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Into the field: The added value of field research in legal studies

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05 November 2016 - 12 November 2016
10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Manchester Museum
Oxford Road
M13 9PL

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ESRC Festival of Social Science logoStop. Embrace reality. Why let other people form your opinion about life, people, and places? Experience. Absorb. Analyse. Share.

This is exactly what we have done in studying the constitutional law of different countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Russia. We challenged the established stereotypes held by others. We went ‘into the field’ to form our own experience.

Very often, the opinion of general public about such remote countries as Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Ghana, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Russia are shaped by the media in a way that may not necessarily reflect the real situation on the ground. We aim to break the stereotypes about these countries and at telling the real stories that we have witnessed or experienced during our field trips to these countries. We have discovered an exciting new world of social interaction working mysteriously to produce an operable structure even in situations of complete collapse of ‘traditional’ state institutions.

As a part of the 2016 ESRC Festival of Social Science, a team of researchers from the University of Manchester organised an exhibition of photographs taken by the researchers themselves during their fieldwork in different countries that they study. There were 12 informative posters containing an image and a short description of its relevance to the researchers’ work and, more generally, to the legal processes in the country.

The exhibition took place in one of the most spectacular halls of Manchester University Museum – the Living Worlds Gallery. This gallery is home to the permanent installation dedicated to various forms of wildlife and the force of nature, which all together symbolise difficult concepts that both scientists and the non-academic world are trying to understand and explain. These concepts include peace and disaster, symbols and experience, humans, weather, resources and variety of life. Essentially, these conceptual ideas united the main installation with photo images of the exhibition and the stories accompanying them.

Contact: Dr Maria Smirnova (

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Into the Field: Meet the researchers