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Nicolás Serrano Cardona has received his doctorate degree

Nicolas Serrano Cardona after the defense
Nicolas Serrano Cardona after the successful defense.

On Monday, 20 June, Nicolás Serrano Cardona successfully defended his dissertation Interlegality, Municipalities and Social Change: A Sociolegal Study of the Controversy around Bullfighting in Bogotá, Colombia. He is the 59th PhD student to complete doctoral studies at the Sociology of Law Department.

Serrano Cardona's dissertation aims to better understand the constraints and possibilities of municipalities as forces of transformation amid ongoing processes of socio-ecological transitions. The study uses the case of bullfighting in Colombia to show how the national and municipal level relationship is fluid and constantly under review amidst processes of change. Bullfighting has become increasingly controversial in Colombia: the once widely accepted practice of fighting bulls currently lacks the majority's support. Claims for its regulation and prohibition clashed with demands for its protection as art and culture. The struggle has been especially active in the capital Bogotá, where consecutive public administrations have been officially against bullfighting.

Serrano Cardona relied on the notions of interlegality, scales and jurisdictions to analyse the origins and transformation of the struggle around bullfighting in Bogotá. He analysed the bottom-up and top-down legal interactions of social forces and municipalities over time to identify the constraints and possibilities of action of municipal governments in the middle of such controversial change processes. The research revealed the different roles that municipal authorities have had in the struggle and how their role is dependent on the legal interpretation of the bullfighting spectacle (a contravention of the constitutional duties to protect the environment or an expression of the Colombian culture). The research also illustrates "how demands of social change can be the source of negotiation and tension within a given multilevel arrangement", Serrano writes.

Professor emerita Hanne Petersen
Professor emerita Hanne Petersen's research has focused on legal pluralism and changes in legal cultures.

The external reviewer of the thesis, Hanne Petersen, Professor emerita in legal cultures at the University of Copenhagen, highlighted the relevance of the research in terms of change in norms, values and attitudes. Petersen also discussed gender roles, generational change, affect and the changing relationships between species – humans, animals and plants – as thought-provoking features of Serrano's research.

After a brief discussion, the examining committee - sociology of law professors Marc Hertogh (University of Groningen), Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (University of Oslo), and Anna Lundberg (Lund University) - unanimously passed Serrano Cardona's dissertation.