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Juris Materiarum: Empires of Earth, Soil and Dirt


Paperback, 536 pages

ISBN 194081328X

ISBN-13 9781940813288

As carbon surrounds the Earth's critical zone, this book takes the journey from communities in war zones through safe European hamlets to witness the material violence of current law and how communities and legal activists are creating and reviving alternative legal regimes and ethical practices that respond to the historical juncture that humanity, Earth and law currently face. This book argues that law needs to shift from its current emphasis on a discourse based on individual and property rights and into the legal recognition of relations: both material and social. From the solidity of Earth to the sovereignty of soil to the dissolution of dirt, Bronwyn Lay draws together legal histories and philosophies around the unifying concept of juris materiarum: laws that recognise the connections between humanity and its habitat. This is increasingly urgent in the age of ecocide where great violence is being committed around the world on an unprecedented scale, but the law remains silent and populations are frustrated that essential relations are being abused and destroyed. A new theory and understanding of violence needs to evolve beyond anthropocentric limits and draw from ancient and modern jurisprudences that recognise the essential truth that humanity lives within Earth, Soil and Dirt. It is law's obligation and vocation to protect these relationships from harm.

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