August 25, 2020 at 2:21 pm

Center for Law, Justice & Culture Director’s Welcome 2020

Dr. Smoki Musaraj smiling with arms crossed and brick building behind her

Dr. Smoki Musaraj, portrait

From Dr. Smoki Musaraj
Director of the Center for Law, Justice & Culture
Associate Professor of Anthropology

The Center for Law, Justice and Culture welcomes students, faculty, alumni and friends to an unconventional virtual semester at Ohio University!

On behalf of the CLJC, I wish that this message finds everyone safe and healthy. We continue to live in trying times, with a pandemic still in full swing and a summer filled with local, national and international protests against police brutality, election fraud and voter suppression, and authoritarian governance, to name but a few. In these trying times, I hope you can join us at the Center for Law, Justice and Culture to think through these pertinent issues while also finding a vibrant and supportive intellectual community. I invite you to take advantage of the courses, advising opportunities, and public programs that the CLJC is offering this semester. Due to Covid-19, all our programs and advising will take place virtually.

Center Updates: This summer was one of transitions in leadership at the CLJC. I am thrilled to be taking on the directorship of the center starting Fall 2020. As a quick introduction, I am an associate professor in anthropology at OHIO. My research focuses on economic anthropology and legal anthropology, with a particular interest in theories of money and value, speculative finance, and the anthropology of corruption. I have enjoyed being part of the CLJC community as an affiliated faculty for the past six years, and I look forward to serving as the director of the center.

On behalf of the CLJC, I want to thank Dr. Haley Duschinski for her incredible leadership and service as director of CLJC for the past seven years. During Dr. Duschinski’s tenure, the center developed the Undergraduate Certificate in Law, Justice and Culture, the Making and Breaking of the Law theme, the M.A. in Law, Justice and Culture, the Summer Law & Trial institute, and the Early Assurance Program, also hosting a wide array of public programs and events tackling some of the most pertinent issues that relate to law and society. Thank you Dr. Duschinski for your leadership! We are lucky that Dr. Duschinski will continue to serve at the CLJC as Graduate Director. In this capacity, she will oversee our growing M.A. program in Law, Justice and Culture.

CLJC’s main staff for academic year 2020-2021 includes myself as director; Dr. Duschinski, Graduate Director, and Larry Hayman, Esq, Pre-law Specialist and Advisor. Our PACE Pre-Law Associates this year are Ellen Gill-Franks and Micaela Beatham Garcia.

Our academic community consists of 23 faculty, 40 graduate students in the M.A. in Law, Justice, and Culture, a robust cohort of Law, Justice and Culture Certificate students, and 11 students in the Early Assurance Program (EAP).

During summer 2020, the center ran the first virtual Summer Law & Trial Institute, directed by Larry Hayman. In the past years, SLTI has brought high school students to live on the Athens campus to learn about law and justice topics and to explore educational and career opportunities related to law, engage in experiential learning, and develop skills necessary for college success. More than two dozen OHIO alumni and attorneys and judges participate in the program. This year the institute went completely virtual due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Courses & Advising: This semester, we are offering the following graduate courses LJC 6000 Proseminar in Law, Justice and Culture taught by Dr. Kirstine Taylor; LJC 6500 Research Methods in Law, Justice, and Culture taught by Dr. Duschinski; and LJC 6965 Legal Practice Workshop taught by Larry Hayman, Esq; and a Pre-law Learning Community led by Larry Hayman.

Upcoming Events: Our fall programming will begin with a number of workshops, including, a Law School Application Workshop (Sept. 1), and a pre-law 101 workshop led by Larry Hayman. In partnership with the ACLU chapter at OHIO, we will also host a Listening Campaign (Sept. 10), exploring challenges in voting in the upcoming elections.

Our first major public event will be the Constitution Day (September 17), co-sponsored with the Office of the Provost. This year’s Constitution Day theme is Institutionalized Racism in Policing and Education, and it will constitute of a panel discussion with OU faculty, including Dr. Bayyinah Jeffries, Dr. Theda Gibbs Grey, Dr. Kirstine Taylor, and Dr. Winsome Chunnu-Brayda. We hope the panel discussion will be a beginning of ongoing conversations about different forms of institutionalized racism that affect many people in our community and beyond. Next, on October 1st, we will host a book launch for Dr. Musaraj’s new book, Tales From Albarado: Ponzi Logics of Accumulation in Postsocialist Albania, in conversation with Dr. Elidor Mëhilli (Hunter College, CUNY). The Center will also host the Wrongful Conviction Panel on the theme: Forces of Freedom or Fraud? Do Conviction Integrity Units Matter in Wrongful Conviction Cases (October 7).  The panel will feature OU Alumni Attorney Pierce Reed from the Ohio Innocence Project, OU alumni attorney and former CLJC faculty affiliate Thomas Costello of the Wayne County (Michigan) Prosecutor Office’s Conviction Integrity Unit, Mallorie Thomas, Staff Attorney at the Ohio Innocence Project, and OIP exonerees Ru-El Sailor and Charles Jackson, who collectively served 42 years in prison for crimes that they did not commit. Larry Hayman will moderate the event.

This year, we are sad to let go of an incredible faculty member of our community, Dr. Luis Plascencia. Dr. Plascencia taught a number of our core graduate courses for the past two years. Dr. Plascencia has been a great teacher and mentor for the first cohorts of our M.A. program. Unfortunately, the college could no longer provide an overload contract for these courses due to budgetary constraints. This is a great loss to the CLJC community. Dr. Plascencia will continue to be affiliated with our center, and we hope we can continue our intellectual collaborations.

Student Organizations: This year’s student leaders in the CLJC community include Luvina Cooley, President of Students for Law, Justice & Culture; Alex Ruttmann, President of Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity; Ellen Gill-Franks, President of Ohio University Mock Trial Club; Kheara Wright, President of OIP-u; and Micaela Beatham Garcia, President of the ACLU Student Group.

The center is located at Bentley Hall 001B. It will be closed to face-to-face interactions this fall but we will provide advising virtually. Our pre-law advising specialist, Larry Hayman, will hold Virtual Walk-in Wednesdays, every Wednesday from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. remotely. Students can sign up for an appointment on Wednesdays by completing this form.

We look forward to seeing you (virtually) in our curricular and extracurricular programs.

I wish you all a good start of the semester!





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