The Legal Case File as Border Object: On Self‐Reference and Other‐Reference in Criminal Law

29 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2015

See all articles by Irene van Oorschot

Irene van Oorschot

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Faculty of Social Sciences

Willem Schinkel

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Faculty of Social Sciences

Date Written: December 2015

Abstract

What do case files do? With help of an ethnographic study on the care, maintenance, and use of legal case files in a Dutch, inquisitorial context, we work through Latour's and Luhmann's conceptualizations of law. We understand these case files as enacting and performing both self‐reference and other‐reference. We coin the term border object to denote the way the legal case file becomes the nexus between two worlds it itself performatively produces: the world of ‘law itself’ on the one hand, and the ‘world out there’ on the other. As such, our discussion offers clues for a partial reconciliation of Latour's and Luhmann's conceptualizations of law: while Luhmann's insistence on other‐referential operations assist in showing how law forges an ‘epistemic relationship’ with the realities it seeks to judge, Latour's concentration on the materialities of epistemic practices assists in situating these other‐referential and self‐referential operations.

Suggested Citation

van Oorschot, Irene and Schinkel, Willem, The Legal Case File as Border Object: On Self‐Reference and Other‐Reference in Criminal Law (December 2015). Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 42, Issue 4, pp. 499-527, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2688300 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2015.00723.x

Irene Van Oorschot (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Faculty of Social Sciences ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062
Netherlands

Willem Schinkel

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Faculty of Social Sciences ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062
Netherlands

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