The call for papers for the Critical Legal Conference 2021 has now closed. But please refer below for the list of ‘streams’ which have been proposed by their conveners. Papers will typically consist of 20 minute presentations, which will be arranged into 90 minute panels of 3 papers each, plus discussion time. We are open to alternative formats, so some sessions may vary from this within the 90 minute blocks of the programme, but by default this ‘traditional’ format will be followed. See the draft outline programme for timings.
Any queries relating to specific streams should be directed to the conveners themselves (contact details below).
If you have general or format queries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
Please click here for details of the general conference theme: Frankenlaw: Community, Division, Modernity
Registration information is here, and registration is now open (closes 12 August 2021).
The UVic ‘Hub’
The conference is being hosted by the University of Dundee, with any face-to-face elements that are possible taking place in Dundee, Scotland (please see our covid page for more on the intended conference format). However, the University of Victoria (Vancouver Island in BC, Canada) is also hosting a CLC ‘Hub’ for those who may be able to physically attend there instead.
This Hub will operate independently from the event in Dundee, as something like a ‘satellite event’ and mostly hosting papers for the ‘Monstrous Creations and Gestural Justice’ stream. It will run primarily on BC time (and thus not overlap/clash with the Dundee programme), but will stream its sessions online via the same online platform hosted by Dundee. Those who register for the conference and attend online will have access to all the UVic Hub sessions as well as the Dundee sessions.
Details of the timings for the UVic Hub will be released in due course along with the detailed programme for Dundee. For more information on this hub, please email email@example.com.
Please note that the conference is not being recorded at all, with the exception of the two plenary lectures from Brenna Bhandar and WJT Mitchell.
List of Streams:
- General Stream
- The Agency of the Artist-scholar
- Critical Legal Approaches to Data
- Criticizing the Criminal Law: Re-joining a Severed Corpse/Corpus
- Critique and the Corporate Image
- Ecocide/Speciesism: Legislating Hierarchy, Interdependence, Death
- Feminist Judgments as Frankenlaw Experiments: Challenging the Liberal Paradigm in Civil Law Countries
- FrankenEurope: Creating or Awaking a Long-Dormant Monster?
- Frankenstories: History, Historiography and Undead Law
- Law and Literature: Themes from Frankenstein
- Legal Fictions
- The Monstrosity of the Legal Form
- Monstrous Creations and Gestural Justice: Performance, Hybridity, Law
- On the Lives of Others: Refusal, Abolition, Survival
- Performing Theatrical Jurisprudence
- Revisiting Human Rights and Social Contract in Post Pandemic World
- Taking Stock: Critical Constitutional Scholarship in 2021 and Beyond
- The Threat and Promise of Law and Horror
- Through a Glass Darkly: Illuminating the Horrors of Frankenlaw via the Lens of Dystopian Fiction
- Transforming the Law to Tackle Climate Change
- Vampiric Law
Conveners: Thomas Giddens, Luca Siliquini-Cinelli, Dominic Smith (University of Dundee)
This stream has no overarching theme, and is open for all submissions that may not fit under or within any of the streams listed below. If you are unsure where your paper fits, it may fit here—but please feel free to email to discuss.
The Agency of the Artist-scholar
Conveners: Gavin Keeney (Independent Artist-scholar), Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (University of Westminster)
We invite presentations that explore the figure of the artist-scholar.
The agency of the artist-scholar is almost always post-contemporary. It engages with arts and literature (sensorial and textual knowledge) across time-senses. When it does break through the norms of its time (in which it nonetheless co-resides), the resulting tension with other events closer to their times is registered in works. At such a point, artistic and scholarly insurrections emerge as if ex nihilo, whose political relevance appears in the sensorial and textual means employed.
Manifestos associated with the modernist avant-garde tend to be self-conscious statements of the emergence of agency. The art-historical record is littered with retrospective analyses of such moments and remains complicit in a conspiracy promoting diachronic or temporal agency, which has given teleological historical studies a subtle yet troubling ‘bad conscience’: for the measures induced to weigh such moments also tend to erase the very moments.
Instead, we propose that the panel privilege forms of preposterous presentism, namely a focus on the breaking of norms without historical constrictions. All presentations are encouraged to be developed as ‘performance’ (live or recorded) of visual and textual elements. The subtending chord of the performance is the practice of lived law in a post-contemporary way. We intend this stream as an experimental step into the waters of radical spatiality and law, with the artist-scholar as the place-holder for works of artistic scholarship and resistance to the commodification of knowledge. We will provide a non-binding summary of ideas and practices to prospective panellists but a short list includes:
- Occupying space through making in the present
- Emergence of agency through art-practice
- Legal practice as art / Art practice as law
- Conference art that defies conference contexts
Critical Legal Approaches to Data
Conveners: Aitor Jimenez (University of Melbourne)
The concept of data resonates in every social, political and economic discussion. It is difficult to imagine a contemporary social problem where that notion is absent. For instance, the health and safety measures aimed to control the Covid-19 pandemic have been influenced by different approaches to data, the rights of data subjects and the way transnational data flows are governed (e.g. tracing apps, biometric data, data flows between countries). Discussions around data are infused with our reliance on technology in every aspect of our daily lives. This results in privacy concerns intersecting with a vast array of areas including fields such as labour, criminal justice and consumer and competition law and policy. Despite the ubiquitous presence of the concept -and its unquestionable importance- we are far from having a clear understanding of it. Data has been defined and regulated at the same time as a commodity, an element of a fundamental right, and as an asset of the commons (to mention some). Paraphrasing Langdon Winner, data is a political artifact, often conceptualised by data thirsty corporations and governments. However, data is adaptable, mutable and polysemic, as it is any other social construction, and as Salomé Viljoen has recently demonstrated, it can be conceptualised in a way that serves the interest of the many and not the few. This stream aims to contribute to the scarce, although relevant body of literature critically scrutinising the legal conceptualisation of data. For that, the stream proposes a diverse panel of critical legal scholars that will approach the study of data from various fields of legal research.
Criticizing the Criminal Law: Re-joining a Severed Corpse/Corpus
Conveners: Blake Wilson (California State University)
In one of the most touching passages of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein, the literate and erudite monster—a stark contrast to the mute brute depicted in the screen versions of the story—tells his maker Victor Frankenstein how he came to learn about humanity and history, an education which leads him to introspection and ultimately a kind of existential despair. He asks himself, ‘Was I, then, a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned? What was I?’
Like the monster from Shelley’s masterpiece, the Western legal tradition, having severed the legal corpse/corpus into distinctly civil and criminal bodies of law and then, like its creator Victor Frankenstein, re-joined them into law simpliciter, should ask similar questions of itself. First, what justifies the rigid distinctions between civil and criminal law? What explains the cleavage between almost all aspects of the system, including its texts and legal procedure but also its specializations for both the bench and practitioners, and, in many cases, even courthouse locations? Most importantly: what justifies the existence of a criminal law at all?
The standard justification for this bisection revolves around the problem of punishment. Criminal law is different, it is said, because it punishes. Again, and in sharp contrast to the films, Shelley’s book features several crimes, trials, and punishments, most of which are depicted as undeserved and therefore unjust (including the execution of Justine, Victor’s innocent sister). Like Nietzsche, who famously asked, ‘Why do we punish?’ in his Genealogy of Morality and then came up with eleven mutually exclusive answers, conveners upon this stream are invited to explore a variety of troubling aspects of bifurcated legal systems, which, like Nietzsche’s ‘we’, have lost the ability to explain ‘why we punish’ and therefore also lost our justification for the caesura which separates these bodies of law.
Papers might consider the following as either rivulets or eddies within the stream itself:
- Greek and Roman origins of bifurcated systems: justifications and explanations
- Foucauldian conceptions of discipline and surveillance: the (in)efficiency of corporal punishment
- Alternatives to the Anglo-American model: comparative approaches
- Abolition of the criminal law: prison abolition
- Mass incarceration: criminal law as enforcer of class division and/or white supremacy
- Practical prospectives for ‘reunification’ of civil and criminal law
- ‘Civil punishment’: problems with ‘civil commitments’ (e.g. mentally disordered sexual offenders)
- Moral justification of criminal law: incapacitation, desert, expressiveness, deterrence
This stream seeks contributions from critical legal scholars from all jurisdictions, particularly those with experience in criminal justice systems other than those dominated by the Anglo-American common-law tradition.
Critique and the Corporate Image
Conveners: Timothy Peters (University of the Sunshine Coast)
At different points in time the theorisation of the corporation has imagined it as everything from a legal fiction to a real entity, a nexus of contracts to an inchoate fund, an independent name to a substantial person. At the same time, in whatever way the corporation is theorised or envisaged, it functions as and through images—whether literally in terms of corporate seals, trademarks, logos and insignia; figuratively in terms of reputation, social responsibility, corporate citizenship or a social licence to operate; or metaphorically in terms of a corporate body (either as a positive outcome of legal metaphysics or as Frankenstein monsters that exceed sovereign control). In this way the corporation is a form of Frakenlaw not simply in the construction of an artificial body made of directors, shareholders, creditors, employees and consumers, but in terms of the constructive and constitutive nature of law itself. This stream therefore calls for critical considerations of the corporation, corporate personhood and corporate law in the context of the images of the corporation that we call forth. It asks for papers that engaged in critiques of:
- the image of the corporation (how we conceive, construct and imagine it in law, theory and fiction);
- the corporation as image (its ability to stand in the place of and represent an absent presence whether in terms of capital, members, management or corporate purpose);
- or other critical considerations of the corporation reflecting the conference’s theme of Frakenlaw.
Ecocide/Speciesism: Legislating Hierarchy, Interdependence, Death
Conveners: Rimona Afana (Emory University, Atlanta)
The once oak trunk now your coffee table; the once bouncy calf now your steak; the once mink mother now your fur coat; the anchovy tribe now your omega-3 supplement. Our lives consist of corpses. Speciesism, as a form of discrimination, manifests as violence against ‘inferior’ non-humans. Our speciesist beliefs and institutions are currently driving ecocides around the world. Just like racism, sexism, or colonialism, speciesism renders certain lives inferior, thus suited for discrimination and subjugation. Jurisprudence is crucial to the environmental crisis: law is shaped by what we consider normal and it determines what we normalize. The norm now remains the massive killing, torture, exploitation of non-humans for the benefit of humans. The myth of independence and autonomy pervasive in Western liberal democracies has supplanted the awareness of inevitable (inter)dependence. Our ideal unity as co-guardians of our common home collides with the hierarchization of needs, rights and bodies, driven by speciesist logics. The life of some rests on the death of many; and law condones it.
Questions: What are the conscious, unconscious, subconscious factors skewing the way we ascribe worth to different forms of life? How are speciesist beliefs driving the rights–duties dialectic embedded in our laws and institutions? How can we conceptualize the aggregate and intergenerational damage, to humans and to nature, of the violence normalized against some forms of life to the benefit of others? Why has the neoliberal ethos rendered interdependence (in both life/prosperity and death/downfall) marginal to individual beliefs and to state responsibilities? What would critical environmental jurisprudence look like?
Format: research papers (environmental law, animal law, international criminal law, critical legal theory, green criminology, environmental ethics, climate and conservation psychology, extinction studies) and creative submissions (electronic/acoustic composition, sound and video art, documentary, photography, collage, painting, drawing, poetry, flash fiction — if informed by research in the above disciplines). Creative pieces can be circulated in advance among participants or presented during the panel (if the format permits); artists can discuss the creative process and how it relates to the stream thematic.
Feminist Judgments as Frankenlaw Experiments: Challenging the Liberal Paradigm in Civil Law Countries
Conveners: Elena Caruso (Kent Law School), Elena Ghidoni (Deusto University, Bilbao)
Still today, many European Law Schools remain refractory to critical legal reflections on laws and judgements with a more systematic breadth, neglecting their potential for law reform, for improving justice and ultimately for social transformation. Feminism has not been an exception. Particularly in Continental Europe there is a persistent resistance to acknowledge the scientific validity of feminist legal studies. With few exceptions, feminism is confined outside the law, and feminist endeavours appear as Frankenlaw practices that threaten the purity of law, de-stabilize its order.
Indeed, behind the positivistic confidence in the objectivity and rationality of legal method, civil law courts keep delivering problematic decisions with regard to women’s rights in a variety of legal fields. To bridge the gap between feminist legal scholarship with its rich contributions and law practitioners and judges, this stream seeks to stimulate contributions that review key judgements, single out troublesome argumentative nodes, passages, and articulate feminist alternatives lines of reasoning. To this end, it takes inspiration from the Feminist Judgement Project (Hunter et al., 2010), which has gained momentum within common law scholarship. By applying for the first time the approach developed within the Feminist Judgment Projects to continental Europe countries with a civil law tradition, this stream seeks to open up a critical reflection on the gendered nature of judgements in civil law jurisdictions.
The stream welcomes feminist analyses, commentaries and/or rewritings of judgements from civil law jurisdictions. The papers should preferably focus on judgements from higher jurisdictions, landmark cases, or brief case-law evolutions. A variety of legal domains might be accounted for, from both civil and criminal law. We welcome analyses on reproductive rights, family law, labour law, migration law, and violence against women among others. We hope to attract contributions that, beyond critical, simultaneously engage in reconstruction. Putting themselves “in the judges’ shoes”, they should offer alternative feminist arguments to the ones at issue. Aware of the richness that characterizes feminist legal theories, the stream encourages different feminist legal approaches to this critical endeavour, and invites papers to engage with intersections.
FrankenEurope: Creating or Awaking a Long-Dormant Monster?
Conveners: Alexandra Mercescu (West University of Timişoara), Rafał Mańko (University of Amsterdam), Mirosław Michał Sadowski (McGill University)
Carving out Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe as a Socio-legal Space
‘Central Europe is a claim to belonging. Eastern Europe is an act of exclusion’ (Jakub Mikanowski, ‘Goodbye, Eastern Europe!’ (2017) LA Review of Books).
The former post-communist region has been transformed beyond recognition over the past thirty years. Behind the façade, however, certain peculiarities continue to persist, hiding in the shadows casted by law and various legal institutions. In our stream we propose to investigate the region critically, from a socio-legal perspective, breaking the established way of contrasting various Central European countries with their Western European counterparts, focusing on interregional comparisons.
Through this academic exercise, we hope to create – or perhaps awake – the monster of regional legal identity, putting it together from the pieces of the cadaver of the four former empires: German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman, from the remains of which the various countries in the centre of Europe were established.
Focusing not only on legal and historical, but also on social and political factors, we particularly welcome submissions on the legal identity of Central European, Eastern European and South-Eastern European countries, as well as theoretical papers on the region or the relations between a local, regional, or national identity and the law. International cooperation in the form of co-authored submissions contrasting the different aspects of legal identity in two or more countries of the region is also strongly encouraged.
Submissions may touch upon, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- Legal identity of a particular country;
- Comparison of a legal institution (e.g. language, constitutional identity, minorities’ rights, legal transplants, statehood building) between two or more countries;
- Legal legacies of being part of a former empire;
- Legal legacies of communism;
- Post-1989 transformation and its aftermath;
- Transitional justice process in the region.
Frankenstories: History, Historiography and Undead Law
Conveners: David Thomas, Adimaya Keni, Jen Neller (Birkbeck)
Facing the magistrate, Frankenstein presents his story as a history, ‘with firmness and precision, marking the dates with accuracy and never deviating into invective or exclamation.’ However, his ambitions towards positivist objectivity are undermined by the fact that his history is embedded in another story, that of the narrator, and that both their histories are fictions written by Mary Shelley. All histories are stories, in which the inanimate materials of the past are selected, ordered, stitched into a whole and brought to life by the historian in oral or written tradition. Law is no different, with old law reanimated for new purposes and assemblages of tradition, convention and precedent invoked, even in the justification of new law. Here, as elsewhere, history, historiography and the uses and abuses of storytelling comprise a terrain of struggle. To borrow from Orwell, who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past, and who tells the best story controls the present.
Critique through history is achieved in many ways: Foucauldian or Nietzschean genealogy, Marxist analyses, Rancièreian anti-history, feminist interpretation, bricolage or sometimes other techniques and methods altogether. We welcome papers using historical analysis as a tool for the critique of law in its broadest sense, or critically examining the practice of history itself.
Without seeking to limit them, papers submitted to this stream could include:
- Histories of historiography
- Critical legal history
- Feminist history
- Revolutionary history
- Aesthetic uses of history
- The history of rights, human or otherwise
- Horrific history
- Monstrous history, or the history of monsters
- Imaginary or mythical history
- Tradition, identity and law
- Postcolonial history
- Ethics of history
- History as an instrument of revolution/counterrevolution
- Alternative history
- Future history
Law and Literature: Themes from Frankenstein
Convener: Tony Ward (Northumbria University)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) is a remarkably rich, multi-layered text. It can be read as (among other things) a tale of scientific hubris, an allegory of the French Revolution, and a critique of a patriarchal rationality that neglects the ‘domestic affections’. It also includes important legal episodes: the trial and wrongful execution of Justine Moritz, Frankenstein’s arrest as a murder suspect in Ireland, and his laying information about the creature’s crimes before a Genevese magistrate. Papers that explore these and other aspects of ‘Frankenlaw’ as represented in literature, the other arts and popular culture are welcome.
Possible topics include:
- The legacy of Wollstonecraft, Godwin and Rousseau; law and politics in Frankenstein
- Law in gothic fiction and sci-fi
- Images of monsters, the transhuman and AI
- Representations of legal responses to scientific and technological threats
- Miscarriages of justice in literature
- Feminist and queer readings of Frankenstein and other gothic works
- Law and psycho-geography
- The margins of the lifeworld: law and the phenomenology of the monstrous
Conveners: Tony Meacham (Coventry University)
A legal fiction is an assumption that is technically untrue or unknown that is used to guide legal decisions. They derive their legitimacy from tradition and precedent as opposed to the word of the law. Such fiction is used in English law in many forms. Examples include:
- Equitable interests in Equity (the use of resulting and constructive trusts).
- Doctrine of survival in inheritance (when it is impossible to determine which of two people died first).
- Adoption – Once an order or judgment of adoption (or similar decree from a court) is entered, one or both biological (or natural) parents becomes a legal stranger to the child.
- Historically, in Australia the principle of terra nullius which determined that indigenous people had no property rights before European colonisation.
Legal fictions have been used widely and have had contemporary and historical use, although Jeremy Bentham was a famous critic of them. Papers are welcomed on the use and misuse of such fictions.
The Monstrosity of the Legal Form
Conveners: Simon Lavis (Open University), Cosmin Cercel, (University of Nottingham), Rafał Mańko (University of Amsterdam), Przemysław Tacik (Jagiellonian University)
Frankenstein’s monster, as the conference call for streams highlights, represents ‘the joining together of dead parts to constitute a reanimated whole, brought (back) to life…’, and invokes, among other things, ‘the power of reason to structure and animate otherwise individual and decaying parts’ and ‘a divided whole, a community of atomistic modern subjects under a single, sovereign hierarchy’.
Frankenlaw, therefore, captures well the ability of the legal form – in the past, present and future – to give legal effect to monstrosity, to incorporate, reanimate, order and give new life to otherwise putrefying and (un)dead ideas and ideologies, as well as the multifaceted status of the exception as existing within the legal form, while simultaneously destabilising it and reforming it into a new monster. Law’s monstrosity also conveys surreptitiously a disavowed longing for coherence, order, and certainty – a melancholic attachment to law’s (in)ability to overcome disruption and contingency. It therefore also calls for a critical analysis of critical lawyer’s attachment to the legal form.
To this end, the stream convenors welcome proposals related to the legal form and the exception including, but not limited to, the following themes:
- Legal form and historicity: how does legal form mutate?
- Agency in the evolution of legal form
- The state of exception as the monstrous side of the law
- Reviving the concept of legal form as a tool of legal critique by returning to the legacy of Evgeny Pashukanis
- Derridean concept of ‘trace’ and legal form
- Legal inertia
- The monstrosity of legal form in historical fascist, Nazi and authoritarian regimes
- Law and revolution in historical socialist and communist regimes, with a focus on the resilience of legal form
- Legal form and socio-economic transformation, with particular focus on the demise of state socialism and restoration of capitalism in Central and Eastern Europe
- Legal form, ideology and the political, especially under neoliberal regimes
- Legal form as part of the superstructure
- The reanimation of extreme ideology in populist legal regimes
- Exceptional (legal) responses to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic
- The struggle for social justice and withering away of legal form
Monstrous Creations and Gestural Justice: Performance, Hybridity, Law
Conveners: Sara Ramshaw, Émile Fromet de Rosnay (University of Victoria), Kristen Lewis (Osgoode Hall)
This stream is intentionally undisciplined, exploratory, and gestural in nature. It seeks papers and performances that interrogate critical legal theory as a creative process of ignorance, of not-knowing, of going towards the improvised, the unforeseen. It is both of the body and beyond the body, of and after the human and humanity. Its (non)discipline is to listen, to notice; to allow what has been kept outside to emerge. It is a space of monstrous creation, pushing up against the idea that creation is an ‘act’ or ‘expression’ of an interior ‘Will’ or potential, which implies an ‘origin’ and ‘principle command’ (terms associated with the Greek archē)—one cannot obey one’s will; it’s a logical contradiction. In a post-conscious, post-subjective context, these ’emergences’ are radically unforeseen confluences and exteriorities. Similarly, there is much that is not knowable that goes into the creative process: the contingent and imperfect encounters between the personal and impersonal, consciousness and the pre/post-conscious, pre/post-subjective, between the human and the nonhuman, and between art/skill (technē) and ignorance.
We welcome papers and/or performances (live or recorded) exploring the themes of creation, gesture, hybridity, performance, and law/justice. The stream is intentionally very open and creative, but some examples of topics include:
- Law and the Creative Process
- Law and Improvisation (Justice as Improvisation)
- Gesture and Action in Law and Justice
- Legal Materiality and Creation
- Hybridity and Law
- Temporality, Justice, (De)creation
- Attuning to Creation in Law and Art
- Embodiment and Law
- Monstrosity, Justice and Art
- Violence, Art, Justice
- Anarchism, Creation and Law
- Subjectivity, Potentiality, and the Juridico-Political
- Minor Jurisprudences: Tending to Gesture and Justice in Non-Leading Cases
- Small Claims Court: Site of the Quotidian Monstrous
- Deviant Gender Performances in/as Law
- The Monstrosities of Legal Fashion/Queering Legal Fashion
- Beyond the Record: Attuning to Silence in Law
- Storytelling and Apocalypse as a Colonialist/Capitalist Fantasy
- Reimagining Care; Revisioning Trauma
- Feminist Frankensteins
- Law and the Monstrous
- Art, Law, Literature and Science
- Inhabiting Monstrosity
- Disability Rights and Law’s Monsters
- Lawyering Through Monstrosity
- Encounters With Fear and the Unknown in Law
- Labyrinths in law
- Non-violent Legal Education and the Making of Monsters
- Law’s Monetization of Monstrosity
- Post/Human Hybrids, Liminalities, Boundary Troubles, or Contaminations
- Relativizing (or ‘Making Monstrous’) Anthropocentric Legal Discourses, Institutions, or Regulative Assumptions in the Capitalocene
- Monstrosity and Law/Justice in Popular Culture
On the Lives of Others: Refusal, Abolition, Survival
Conveners: Ozan Kamiloglu, Petero Kalulé (London South Bank University)
While the hordes of capitalism, (its legal ‘techne’, apparatuses and logic) invade the uncharted territories of life and death, unexpected forms of resistance as well as alternative forms of life that are assemblages of humans and non-humans still thrive and challenge the limits of legal imagination. There is life in the ruins after the war, after ‘catastrophe’, after commodification. If this is true, then what is this life that is ‘out’, ‘off’, invisible, unthinkable to the legal imagination?
An exploration of the forms of co-existence (and collaboration, mutuality, commons, assemblages) and the ways in which these forms(refusal, misidentification, death, fluxes, fugitivity) emerge and interact with their actors ( i.e., humans, non-humans, viruses, rain forests, oceans, archives, art works and so forth ) are the main ideas behind this stream.
To that end, this stream welcomes papers, reflections, experiences, critiques and provocations engaging with the theme in both traditional and non-traditional formats. Topics that submissions may want to explore might include, but are in no way limited to:
- After the catastrophe
- Ruin as fertile ground
- Lawless imaginations
- Collaborative survival as freedom making
- Life outside of the plans of legal capitalist modernity
- Assemblages of humans and non-humans – shifting borders of the human
- Refusal as a non-strategy
- Law and the undercommons
- Law and Fugitivity
- Law and Abolition
- Misidentified subjects
Performing Theatrical Jurisprudence
Conveners: Sean Mulcahy (La Tobe University)
The performative turn has been apparent in social sciences and humanities since mid-last century. Richard Schechner, a pioneering scholar on performance studies, argues that ‘theatre is but one of a complex of performance activities, which also includes rituals, sports and trials (duals, ritual combats, courtroom trials)’, situating law along the same performative spectrum as theatre. The association of theatre to law is common. Many have discussed the relation between stage and courtroom given the proximate development of theatre and law historically. Often, however, there can be a lack of legal attention to the performance of law and vice versa.
In the spirit of drawing scholarly attention to the convergences of performance, theatre, and law, we invite contributions on the broad theme of law in/and/as performance. Possible areas of engagement could include, but are not limited to:
- documentary trial plays and other theatrical adaptations of law
- legislative theatre and other performance-based methods of making law
- performing truth in law
- intercultural legal performances
- law and the performing body
- digital performance and performance in virtual courts
- performance-led legal research and other performance-based methodologies of legal research
- critiques of the staging of law
- space, sound, and dress in legal performance
- the interplay between actors and audience in legal performance
Legal and theatrical performance necessitates the gathering together of bodies in space to bear witness. This stream invites contact and collaboration with scholars and practitioners of theatre and law, provides space to explore law in/and/as performance, and aspires to generate new insights into this emerging interdiscipline. We particularly welcome creative responses to the stream themes.
Revisiting Human Rights and Social Contract in Post Pandemic World
Conveners: Tarun Arora (Central University of Punjab)
Social contract, as spelt out by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and others visualized state as an entity to protect life, liberty and property of individual. Language of the preamble of the UN Charter and UDHR underscores the idea of ‘freedom from fear’ and ‘freedom from want’. The states in modern times in the post world war II era have adopted their written constitution and guaranteed fundamental freedoms to make the life worth dignity. However, the adversities inflicted by the Covid 19 pandemic in the wake of world over lockdown exposed the poor governance threatening life not due to a small pathogen but because of hunger, humiliation, indignity and unkind treatment to the infected. The post Covid world warrants a revisit of various international instruments and examination of theory of social contract. The adversities faced by the migrant labours, their families, kids, private sector employees in GDP driven developing economies and poor investment in health and education sector need a relook in the light of experiences of 2020 wherein the role of the State as a parent figure need to be redefined. The patients suffering from diseases other than Covid lost their lives and experiences met out by expectant mothers and their family members are terrible. Besides, whereas right to privacy on the one hand was compromised and on the other hand, the life of the people serving in health sector was full of challenges. Few governments across the world made exemplary arrangement for security personnel’s and health sector employees.
Against the above backdrop, the theme may cover different implications of Covid 19 on law and governance in context of human rights, Rule of Law and Rule by Law. The session will help the participants to learn through sharing of experiences and constructive outputs.
Taking Stock: Critical Constitutional Scholarship in 2021 and Beyond
Conveners: Brian Christopher Jones (University of Sheffield)
Constitutional studies has enjoyed a renewed renaissance over the past couple decades. Major international journals devoted to the field have been established, becoming leading outlets for comparative constitutional scholarship and the interaction between law and politics. Book series on comparative constitutional studies have also developed in many of the leading academic publishers, and increasingly we see law schools adding comparative public law as an upper-level optional module. But where does critical constitutional scholarship fit in; and more importantly, what is critical constitutional scholarship in the year 2021? In an era of ‘easy targets’ such as Brexit, Trump, and burgeoning authoritarian populism, how can scholars use these – or move beyond them – to produce genuinely important and lasting critical constitutional scholarship? This stream hopes to examine these issues in greater depth, and hopefully lay out and develop a new agenda for future critical constitutional scholarship.
The Threat and Promise of Law and Horror
Conveners: Penny Crofts (University of Technology Sydney)
Law and fiction are acts of creation producing social meaning. Fiction proffers the opportunity to explore the excesses that the law omits. Law and horror are meditations on wickedness, suffering and responsibility, but also include possibilities for transformation. The horror theorist Robin Wood has argued that the horror genre’s perceived lack of seriousness encourages loosening of censorship in viewers and makers. By being dismissed as negligible, horror can be more subversive and critical than other types of fiction. This stream explores the social and legal critique (or lack thereof) of the genre(s) of horror fiction.
Topics for analysis might include:
- individual and corporate responsibility
- what survives the apocalypse?
- does horror cement or challenge capitalist realism?
- assumptions and challenges of race, sexuality, class, disability
- the promise and threat of monsters
- horror themes in law (eg the corporation as Frankenstein’s creation)
Through a Glass Darkly: Illuminating the Horrors of Frankenlaw via the Lens of Dystopian Fiction
Conveners: Julia Shaw (De Montfort University)
Catastrophic events, most recently the devastating viral outbreak COVID-19, provoke the feeling that we are teetering on the edge of the abyss. Although horrific, everyday more commonplace horrors receive much less attention. For example, the retreat of the state in protecting the vulnerable, and an increasing normalisation of the atrocities and privations resulting from irresponsible economic and political strategies, have exacerbated the inexorable rise of the urban poor. While less spectacular, the very wretchedness and precarity of ordinary life for those who live on the margins of society, and increasing levels of inhumanity that challenge traditional humanitarian values, are all modern monsters.
Dystopian literature not only entertains, but also performs an important function by depicting a nightmarish Frankenlaw-infested future world; thereby initiating a critique of modernity and the absence of law-as-justice. The genre intrudes on our preconceptions and disrupts our sense of security by challenging established beliefs and values. It lays bare the fragility of the human condition, and by articulating the pain and suffering of ﬁctional characters has the capacity to inspire greater empathy and a commitment to the promotion of a less divisive and, therefore, less dangerous and monstrous society.
This stream welcomes papers and performances which engage with the role of law in the collapse or rehabilitation of society, or the proposal of alternative legal structures, via the lens of dystopian fiction, poetry, art, music or drama.
Transforming Law to Tackle Climate Change
Convener: Riccardo Fornasari (University of Bologna and Paris Nanterre)
The impending climate crisis imposes a rethinking of the boundaries of different sectors of legal doctrine. Whilst traditionally environmental regulation was a topic on its own, climate change has imposed a broadening of environmental considerations which resurge in different fields, from securities regulation to contractual arrangements disciplining transnational value chains. More specifically, the Knightian uncertainty surrounding climate change and its economic and distributive effects have made clear that market mechanisms cannot provide the much needed reallocation of capital to ‘clean’ production. Therefore, legal scholars have started to question how to incorporate environmental consideration in different branches of law and how different branches of law can steer investment decisions to avert climate catastrophe.
Whereas these concerns are widespread, it is interesting to understand from a theoretical point of view, how climate change is conceptualized as a problem and how the purposes of different branches of law are re-conceptualized to incorporate climate change as a problem in need of solution. It is in fact clear that embedding environmental considerations within specific fields that have been traditionally designed to serve different purposes requires either a theorization of climate change as being part of those ‘primary’ purposes, either to stretch doctrines and rules in order to serve also environmental considerations.
Therefore, the panel aspires, taking as its main reference European law and national legal systems, to understand how climate change is taken into account and conceptualized and how different branches of law are being re-conceptualized. In doing so, the contributions to the discussion (that should span across corporate law, financial regulation, contract law, tort law and EU law) should assess how and whether the existing doctrines and tools of these bodies of law can be reassembled to take into account climate change.
Conveners: Thomas Ebbs, Swastee Ranjan (University of Sussex)
Our friends have noticed omens.
This panel comes from a place of fear, a suspicion that our thoughts and actions are attending ends other than those which they promised. Is there something vampiric here? Old legal artefacts that presented themselves as anodyne re-surfaces as objects of suspicion, infection contagion, corruption, extortion and necromancy. Do we understand the vampiric presence as law that feeds off our life force – that makes its home on our skin – that will only show itself in our demise? Or does the vampiric rely on our seduction? Is the bloodthirsty, ethereal beauty of the shadows? Is it wearing the face of ‘the stranger’, ‘the monster’, or ‘the lover’? What lore dictates its existence? How does the vampire move from its mythical coffins to our homes and our streets?
What shall we do with this feeling of dread? This stream proposes to investigate our inter(and intra) -actions with the vampiric. We are interested in exploring the dimensions of the vampire in the context of law: Can such a context exist? What does co-existence with such a parasite look like? What does it do to the sacred ‘life’ of the human? What is the vampiric violence of law? Must we be slayers: will expulsion and eradication be our only resort? Or can there be an ethics of interspecies living?
We invite panels and papers that critically explore different meanings associated with becoming a host to the vampire. Some of these discussions and interventions could include:
- Considerations of law that draws illustrations from popular culture (Buffy- the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dracula, What We Do in the Shadows, True Blood) discussing the ways in which law appears in and through them.
- Engagements with post-human thinking where the figure of the vampire assumes tentacles and reframes itself in the context of the chthulucene.
- Discussions that include representations of power as vampiric – that which extorts, corrupts, infects the ‘normal’ rendering it as parasitic, or embodies the idea of the ‘stranger’ or ‘the monster’.
- Interpretations of the vampire as it appears in the text of law, sometimes stalking it through metaphors or framing it as an epistemic tool.
- Conversations that unpacks the tenuous link between gender and sexuality and the body of the vampire.
- Vampire as a virus that seeks to extend the dimensions of the corporeal, just as law that seeks to expand its rule.
We have merely indicated some of the ideas that contribute and disrupt the affective, aesthetic and the ethical position that the figure of vampire lends to law. We welcome conversations and interpretations that extend these.