The law's gender: entanglements and recursions - three stories from Sri Lanka
Our essay examines the recursions, rationalities, limits, and promise of the law drawing on three recent cases of women who encountered law enforcement authorities and the courts in Sri Lanka. It provides a strong account of how dominant gender norms are mobilized to determine who is afforded the sanctuary of the law and who is not. By ... foregrounding the troubled encounters of the women with the law the essay also demonstrates the ways in which the law, culture, and the state combine, pull apart, and recombine in a manner that draws attention to their own internal relations; and how procedures established to ensure legal objectivity and judicial impartiality often fold back on themselves, reflecting the pliancy of the law. The essay also foregrounds the conditions of possibility, including feminist legal methodologies, that enable women to (re)turn to the law despite its transgressions. In doing so it argues for seeing the law as multilayered and recursive, reflecting the thick and uneven conditions under which women access justice in Sri Lanka. In highlighting how these women challenge and bargain with the law, the essay also acknowledges their tenacity and endurance in what, ultimately, is an effort at demanding an improved and substantive justice.
Original publication in
On_culture: the open journal for the study of culture 3 (2017)