Beginning in 2005 at the annual meetings of the Law & Society Association, an ad hoc group of tax scholars has held a growing number of tax-oriented panels. Starting from a solid base of 3 panels in 2005, we put together 6 panels in 2006 and 7 panels in 2007 (the latter number being especially surprising given that the annual meeting that year was held in Berlin, Germany). Building on that success, we obtained official recognition in late 2007 from the Law & Society Association as a "Collaborative Research Network" (CRN), a section-like group within the association. Our CRN goes by the title "Law, Society, and Taxation."
At the 2008 annual meeting in Montreal, we sponsored an incredible 13 panels. There were actually 14 panels scheduled, but a panel on critical tax scholarship unfortunately had to be canceled at the last minute because of the withdrawal of some panelists. On the other hand, we also co-sponsored a panel with the Labor CRN about the privatization of government work.) The ever-rising quantity has been matched by ever-rising quality and ever-increasing subject matter diversity. While some panels' papers easily fall into the traditional areas of tax analysis (with, for example, two full panels on international tax issues), the papers themselves have been anything but narrowly traditional, expanding the scholarly inquiry in promising and often surprising directions. Even with such a large number of panels, moreover, the range of subjects covered by the papers often defied categorization -- which, as a nontrivial matter from the organizer's point of view, made it quite a challenge to group papers into thematic panels. Any such organizational shortcomings were, however, more than overcome by the participants, as they and the audience found commonalities among the presentations that even they did not expect.
Building on this surprising level of immediate success, the CRN will again this Fall issue a call for papers for next year's Law & Society annual meeting, which will be held in Denver from May 28-31, 2009. In addition, we are now looking for opportunities to cosponsor conferences, colloquia, on-line interactions, or any other scholarly endeavors that advance interdisciplinary, diverse, and policy-oriented tax scholarship. We also host a very low-traffic informational email list which any tax scholar may join. We are especially interested in developing links to scholars and organizations outside of the United States.
If you have any suggestions or thoughts, please feel free to email me.