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Countryside communities explored in new access to justice collection

10 July 2023

The experiences of countryside communities are often overlooked within legal scholarship but a new collection of global perspectives on access to justice in rural areas gives greater prominence to the subject.

Access to Justice in Rural Communities: Global Perspectives is a passion project for Dr Daniel Newman, Reader in Law at the School of Law and Politics, who has teamed up with Dr Faith Gordon of the Australian National University. Both academics grew up in rural areas and have long felt a lack of representation of rural contexts and issues in law schools – both as students and as educators.

Their book, which was published in May 2023, highlights a range of social, geographic and cultural points which impact the way rural communities experience the justice system throughout the world. Featuring chapters on Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Kenya, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, the USA and Wales, the collection looks at how people experience the institutions of justice in rural areas and how this rural experience can differ to an urban experience.

Speaking of the book, Dr Newman said, “There is a rural justice gap. The truths of rurality encompass a diversity that is often ignored in stereotyped images of life outside of towns and cities. Idealised conceptions of the rural, work to hide the problems that can be uncovered on closer inspection. The lived reality of struggle and suffering can be lost in imagined romanticised versions of rural life, because there is no one rural and no fixed rural experience. Any meaningful understanding of rural access to justice would and should recognise the diversity of rurality.”

“The voices of those that experience injustice in rural areas are missing from mainstream legal studies. Our book covers the harms that can be encountered, such as the ways in which justice systems specifically marginalise Indigenous or racialized groups in rural areas, the shortage of rural lawyers as graduates as they feel compelled to leave their homes and are often called to practice in urban areas, and the lack of infrastructure to seek or receive help across a range of problems outside towns and cities.”

Dr Newman leads current undergraduate modules Crime, Law and Society and Global Problems and Legal Theory and is the postgraduate lead for Themes in Socio-Legal Studies.

Find out more about Access to Justice in Rural Communities on the Bloomsbury Publishing website.

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