This project examines the complex spatial, socioeconomic, and political context of rural northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, locally referred to as “the Northland.” It 1) considers how rural sociospatiality impacts low-income individuals’ conceptualizations of and efforts to mobilize law; and 2) explores the unique challenges of civil legal aid provision across diverse communities and state and professional frameworks.

As interdisciplinary and longitudinal research, we use mixed methods (one-on-one interviews, focus groups, extensive surveys and geospatial mapping) to comparatively document the experiences of rural individuals across the Northland over three years.

By attending to “justice” as interpreted by individuals in family, professional, tribal, state and regional contexts, this study enhances and complicates public knowledge about rural America. It also challenges emergent conversations on “justice gaps” by illuminating the ways in which “access to justice” must necessarily involve access to quality education, employment, childcare, food, healthcare and mental health services, broadband, and good roads.

This project will meaningfully contribute a rural perspective to socio-legal studies of legal advocacy, in/equity and mobilization.


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