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Law School Research Seminar - Panu Minkkinen, University of Helsinki

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Title: 'The Court: Judicial Artifacts as Cultural Techniques'

Abstract. ‘Most legal theorists will know German legal historian Cornelia Vismann as an innovative and observant interpreter of continental philosophy, most notably of Walter Benjamin, Jacques Derrida, and Pierre Legendre. Vismann’s numerous contributions to the development of so-called German media theory are, however, hardly known among her Anglophone legal peers. Legal theory’s apparent lack of engagements with German media theory is even more surprising if one considers that Vismann’s breakthrough monograph was translated into English as Files: Law and Media Technology (Stanford UP, 2008). This paper outlines a materialist and anti-hermeneutic framework that is indebted to Vismann as well as to her media theory collaborators such as Friedrich A. Kittler and Markus Krajewski. It then discusses judicial artifacts such as courthouse designs as cultural techniques, that is, as chains of operations that link together humans, things, and media. Studying judicial artifacts as cultural techniques shifts, to paraphrase Bernhard Siegert, the analytic gaze from the ontological distinctions that are supposedly inherent in these artifacts to the ontic operations and procedures that enable making those distinctions in the first place’

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