Dr Saskia Vermeylen

Senior Lecturer

My main area of research is formal 'Western' property law and how it subordinates different kinds of property law including customary law and informal law. My research focuses on the interaction between formal institutionalised law and informal local law as enacted in daily social practices. I am interested in examining how different types of law intersect and influence each other,ÿ how these laws express different types of social relations and in particular how the 'subaltern' is affected by formal rules. So far most of my research was focused on studying the tangible and intangible property regimes of indigenous peoples in Southern Africa with a specific interest in the San. My work is inspired by critical legal studies and discourses of postcolonialism, which critically assess how Western law continues to colonise - over time and space - the 'other'. As such, I am analysing not only the norms that form the foundation of law but I am specifically interested in the narratives or the 'story' of law. From a pragmatic perspective using storytelling as a methodological tool in my work has drawn attention to the need to give a representative voice to those who have been excluded from the shaping of formal legal rules.