Universities in the global South have been leading debates on decoloniality, epistemic justice, and challenging established modes of how knowledge is created. The methods through which we come to know what we know, however, have only been marginally impacted by these debates. What if approaches and sensitivities that – often silently and implicitly – inform how we do research in the South were able to inform and inspire not just researchers in the global South, but the global community of scholars and researchers? How do we (as researchers, students, and academics) conduct research in/from the South? How do we use methods to investigate issues, processes, challenges, events, and actors in ways that are both attuned to local realities and relevant to global debates?

The University of Oxford’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS), the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), and the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), in association with the South African Journal on Human Rights and the Journal of Legal Studies, will address these questions during a methodology writing workshop,  Crafting Socio-Legal Methods: Local Realities and Global Debates, for early career researchers from sub-Saharan Africa, in partnership with the Journal of Law and Society (JLS) and the South Africa Journal of Human Rights (SAJHR).

The workshop is premised on a participant having already conducted their research and will focus on taking each participant’s article forward for publication and enhancing methodological skills. 

The workshop will take place in Johannesburg 6-8 March 2024 and funding will be provided to selected participants (flights, accommodation, and visa costs). Continued collaboration will be supported including through a series of online seminars, opportunities for blog posts, and the exchange of visiting scholars.


Applicants should have already conducted their research and should be able to reflect on their approach to research methodologies. We particularly welcome papers that focus on the following themes, although other topics will also be considered:

1.    How do we study law beyond borders? This theme explores laws and legal practices in disparate parts of the world, both contemporary and historic. Often these are contexts in which people and their practices transcend and turn their backs on state laws and legal systems. This theme contributes to the knowledge of legal diversity and non-state forms of law. These papers will often involve explicit comparisons and theoretical reflections on the cross-cultural nature of law and legal practices. People and cultures also travel, laws seek to regulate transnational movements, and international treatises transcend geographical and political divides. Examples of topics within this theme include: comparative legal history, private governance, global legal systems, migration, asylum, and diasporas, as well as digital communities.

2.    How do we study law in a digital world? This theme focuses on the rapidly evolving areas around the shifting modes of censorship and internet regulation, technology and migration, disinformation and hate speech, the emergence of AI, and the regulation of algorithms. It has a particular focus on the dramatic changes in communications technology that are transforming the way societies are governed, how people participate, and how power is distributed.

3.    How do we study the lived experience of human rights? There has been an explosion of interest in human rights in recent decades which has transformed the way in which law is taught and practiced. Drawing on its strengths in grounded approaches to the study of law in action and social science methodology, this theme focuses on lived experiences of human rights and draws attention to the local implications of this international movement and the frequent gaps between the rhetoric of international conventions and the reality of everyday experiences of accessing those rights.


The workshop will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa. It will take place in-person from the 6-8 March 2024. Applicants should be available for the duration of the workshop.


Based primarily at an academic institution in sub-Saharan Africa.

Qualify as early career scholar -including advanced PhD students and those within approximately five years of completion of their PhD, but extended for researchers who have taken a career break (e.g. for caring responsibilities).


Applicants will be required to submit an abstract of their article up to 500 words during the initial application process. Applications are due by 15 November 2023.

Selected participants will be required to submit a full draft of their article by January 10th, 2024 to be reviewed before the workshop and to enable sufficient time for visa applications. If you already have a full version of your article drafted, you can upload that in lieu of an abstract. Their article should broadly fall under one of the three research clusters detailed above and use socio-legal methods and/or engage with debates concerning methods in the South. Applicants are encouraged to submit a short writing sample (e.g. section of thesis, opinion piece, etc.) to aid with the selection process.

Our selection criteria will ensure a diversity of subject matter, as well as a gender and geographical balance. The travel and accommodation of all participants, if required, will be provided.  

Submit your application here.

The deadline for the application is Friday, 15 November at 11:59PM UK time.

If you have any questions, please contact Sinakhokonke Ncongwane: