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The call for papers and panels is now closed. Further details of the program will be available here in August.

Registration is open, and can completed here.

Stream Organiser: Julie Mansuy & Tara Mulqueen (Warwick)

Submission of Abstracts:

Please submit panels or papers that do not fit within the other streams, if accepted, we will do our best to organise these thematically.

Stream Organiser: Anna Gumucio Ramberg & Bal Sokhi-Bulley (Sussex)

Submission of Abstracts:

We are, we are told, living in an age of migration ‘crises’. The responses to these ‘crises’ are often violent, brutal and racist. Yet, and perhaps more insidiously, both responses to these ‘crises’ as well as border operations and practices are increasingly articulated in languages of rights and humanitarianism, and solidarity. From the images of crowded boats and drowned migrants to the increased humanitarian responses in, among other places, the Mediterranean, we are, increasingly seeing migration in terms of ‘humanitarian crises’ which require intervention and expertise. The European Union’s migration policies purport to be “based on human rights” (Council Regulation 1168/2011) and Frontex abides by a strong fundamental rights strategy. Tazzioli describes a hybrid mode of migration management that sees the interplay between lives being captured by humanitarian technologies of governance and “military forms of selection, protection and containment”, illustrating how the logics of securitisation and human rights become increasingly coterminous. A logic of solidarity is also increasingly embedded in how we both manage and describe this crisis. This stream explores the intersection of human rights and humanitarianism with processes of securitisation and possibilities of how else to frame the catastrophe of migration management – is there a catastrophic understanding of solidarity at play here, for instance? We also invite you to explore the struggles against such logics: the way rights and solidarity may be (re)shaped through struggle along processes of mobility and contestations of border practices more generally. Papers and panels might address:

  • the extent to which rights discourse and language is appropriated by border actors, agencies and governments, as well as the effects of such appropriations;
  • rights discourse(s) and humanitarianism as forms of biopolitics or governmentality in the context of migration management;
  • humanitarianism and humanitarian interventions and their relationship with securitisation in migration;
  • how to label the crisis/ catastrophe in migration management;
  • the role and understanding of solidarity in the crisis;
  • broader (re)conceptualisations of ‘rights’ in the context of migratory struggles;
  • struggles against ‘good’ migration governance logics; and/or
  • other issues surrounding human rights, crisis and struggle in the context of migration management.

Stream Organisers: Henry Jones (Durham) & Cait Storr (Melbourne)

Submission of Abstracts:

The quintessential catastrophes of late modernity are notable for being truly global. Unlike the promises of globalisation, the catastrophes of globalisation have the potential to affect the planet as a whole. Climate change, human displacement and economic collapse are global phenomena, with the potential to produce universal suffering. And yet the experience of ‘global’ catastrophes is geographically located and unevenly distributed. As narratives of global catastrophe create an affect of universal suffering, actual experiences of suffering are increasingly directed and controlled. This stream seeks to construct an international legal and geographic account of how international law works to quarantine catastrophe by controlling and ordering space.

The stream will interrogate how international law seeks to order the distribution of catastrophe. For example, international law creates spaces of catastrophe at borders and in controlling migration flows. International law is implicated in approving the destruction of certain places both through remote bombing and ground warfare, and through slower methods such as extractive land use and climate change. The supposedly universal promise of economic development is realised in particular neighbourhoods, towns, cities, and states, whilst others experience deepening dysfunction and collapse. How has international law helped to create a world of free movement of capital and corporations, whilst people face ever more barbed wire and walls? How has international law protected prosperity in the global north? Indeed, how has international law continued to produce the global south? And, in times of catastrophe, do the redemptive promises of international law offer hope that the world might be reordered and remade, or signal a retreat to the imaginaries of empire?

We are interested in papers addressing these questions in the broadest sense. Key topics we hope to address include but are not limited to:

  • International legal practices of territory and territoriality
  • The role of data and technology in governing international spaces
  • International spaces beyond sovereign control
  • International regulation of movement
  • International law and place making
  • Contemporary practices of extraterritoriality

Stream Organisers: Enrique Prieto-Rios (Rosario, Bogota), Maria Angélica Prada, Mariana Diaz-Chalela, Rene Urueña (Los Andes, Bogota), Tomaso Ferrando (Warwick)

Submission of Abstracts:

In times of crisis, law is often presented as an instrument of rationality to get out of the swamp, a pathway back into certainty. The International Economic Law field -IEL-(specifically WTO Law and International Investment Law) has been considered as a standard to be adopted in moments of economic meltdown, a secure and tested mechanism to promote economic stability within developed countries and foster economic development among less developed ones. However, some criticisms highlight that the IEL rationality is one of permanent crisis rather than of a reaction to a moment of hardship and forced choice.

Looking at the history of IEL interventions, it appears to operate under the assumption that economies need to embrace globalisation in order to prevent catastrophe, a kind of shock doctrine in which there needs to be a response before the worst happens. Nevertheless, today’s world seems to be turning back on globalisation. More often than not, we are seeing calls for rejecting international trade, foreign investment and economic interdependencies. The turn back on globalisation knows no political affiliation and seems to come from all sides of the spectrum. Issues of accountability, governance, protection of natural resources, and distributive justice jeopardise the rationality behind the IEL field.

It is no longer a question of whether the lack of economic integration can lead to catastrophe and more a question of whether there was a catastrophe to begin with. The purpose of this panel is to critically explore the rationality of International Economic Law, and how it is reflected in today’s world. Some of the topics expected to be discussed within this panel include: effects of the International Investment Law System in terms of access/plunder of natural resources, governance/governmentality and economic distributive justice among others.

Stream Organisers: Rob Knox (Liverpool) & Tor Krever (Warwick)

Submission of Abstracts:

Writing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the late Neil Smith argued that there is ‘no such thing as a natural disaster’. For Smith, in ‘every phase and aspect of a disaster – causes, vulnerability, preparedness, results and response, and reconstruction – the contours of disaster and the difference between who lives and who dies is to a greater or lesser extent a social calculus’. Smith reminds us of the dangers of thinking of catastrophes as singular, context-less events.

However, Smith’s analysis did not simply focus on the ‘social’, rather he directs our attention to the way in which political economic relations shape and produce catastrophes. One can only understand the climatological causes of a hurricane, for instance, by understanding the way in which the relentless accumulation of capital fundamentally transforms the ecosystem. Similarly, we can only trace the uneven effects of disasters by thinking through the uneven distributive and productive priorities of capitalism – both domestically and internationally. The contradictions of capitalism also mean that economic catastrophes are also an ever present possibility – as 2008 and its aftermaths teach us only so well.

The lesson of critical legal theory is that law also plays a crucial role in shaping and consolidating capitalist social relations and creating particular political-economic configurations. The role of international and European law also demonstrates the central role that law plays in the management of financial and economic crises themselves.

This stream invites contributions that seek to think through the inter-relationship between political economy, law and the production of catastrophes in all spheres. In particular, we welcome:

  • Examinations the role that political-economic and legal relations played in particular historical ‘catastrophes’
  • Examinations of the role of law in the production and management of economic crises
  • Papers which use insights from critical political-economic traditions – such as the Marxist tradition – to illuminate legal questions

Stream Organisers: Julia J.A. Shaw (De Montfort University)

Submission of Abstracts:

Around the world we find ever more rampant security politics, where climates of fear and innovative technologies facilitate increasingly nuanced modes of discipline and control. In this context, Zizek declares that the fundamental concepts of Western political theory such as democracy, freedom, human rights are false friends, masking their origins and mystifying our ‘perception of the situation instead of allowing us to think it’ (2002: 2). In this precise sense our freedoms themselves constitute a precarious autonomy and only sustain our deeper ‘unfreedom’.

This bleak picture leads the stream to begin imagining, to think about imaginings of catastrophe. It invites papers that reveal, interrogate and replace the repressive mythologies, fantasies and mystical discourses which underscore the prevailing aesthetics of security and control. It invites papers that explore the possibilities of an aesthetics of resistance. In the context of a dystopian reading of a post-catastrophic (and trans- even post-human) materiality, papers are invited on the question of justice and compassion in a world reordered by many actual and metaphorical monsters, hybrids and uncertainties.

  • Aesthetics of/in security and control
  • Literature, film and/or law in the catastrophe
  • The end of the world, society, humanity
  • Monsters, hybrids, cyborgs
  • Genres of catastrophe

Stream Organisers: Kathryn McNeilly (Queen’s Belfast) & Sara Ramshaw (Exeter)

Submission of Abstracts:

Listening is not just about the sense of hearing. It is multi-sensory and, more importantly, collaboratively enacted by a broad range of human and non-human actors. The focus of this stream will be on the social and dialogic nature of active listening skills, on attentive listening as an ethical practice that endeavours to listen to the voices and sounds of the “other,” to those typically excluded from conventional discourse and inquiry.

Drawing on the work of Emmanuel Levinas, the late French philosopher Jacques Derrida equates ethics with hospitality and otherness, with the notion or act of being hospitable to the other, to the stranger or foreigner. For Derrida, hospitality (and ethics) can only be understood in a double sense. On the one hand, absolute hospitality (what Derrida also terms “The law,” or “the Law”) requires unqualified generosity and open doors/borders to all visitors. This unconditional welcoming of the unpredictable other involves a certain level of risk for there is always a chance that the stranger /foreigner /trespasser /other will destroy everything and even murder the hospitable host. Ethics as absolute hospitality is thus only possible when certitude is abandoned, when risks are taken. This absolute hospitality, however, is constrained by conditional “laws,” such as those in place to protect an all-welcoming host from unsavoury guests who wish to steal from or even kill her. Ethics as hospitality thereby entails an openness to the unexpected (“The law”), but also constraints on this unpredictability (“laws”, the legal system).

This unconditional hospitable attitude, as that which creates a space for ethics to happen, can only be achieved, according to Cobussen and Nielsen, through “an open listening attitude, an openness towards other voices and the voices of others.” Drawing on Derrida’s distinction as between the Law and the laws of hospitality, attentive listening involves a constant negotiation between recognition of the pre-existent and discovery of the unknown. Listening with respect, openness and responsiveness necessarily enables the listener to meet otherness as otherness, without the need to reduce it to “the order of the same.” It involves an ethical commitment and responsibility to, and interaction with, all that surrounds us: persons, the environment and the sounds of daily life. Attentive or deep listening demands attunement not only to the singularity of the situation, but also to the context and community from which the sonic emerges. From such listening springs compassion and understanding.

For this stream, we welcome papers on any aspects of listening/sound and the law, including, but not limited to:

  • The ethics of listening in law and justice
  • Acoustic justice/ jurisprudence
  • Sonic violence / music torture and the law
  • The sound of justice
  • Music and the law
  • Sound and protest
  • Listening in contexts of crisis
  • The challenges of attentive listening in/for law
  • Gender(ed) listening in law
  • Listening to/for the ‘other’ in law
  • The sound of catastrophe or sonic catastrophe(s)

Stream Organisers: Andreas Kotsakis (Oxford Brookes) & Vito De Lucia (UiT Arctic University of Norway)

Submission of Abstracts:

In 2011, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos declared that: ‘To put it bluntly, environmental law cannot save the planet. What is more, society cannot expect environmental law to want to save the planet’. The implications of this provocative call to imagining a critical environmental law have not been sufficiently explored, and the association between the law and environmental ethics remained largely intact. The field remains largely committed to scholarship focusing on the normative as opposed to the theoretical development of the connection between law and ecology. The understanding of the autonomous environmental lawyer as the ‘problem-solving doctor’ and technical expert, and of the depoliticised environmental law itself as an instrument for the legitimation and implementation of scientifically derived (and thus accurate) norms still largely underpins environmental law’s conceptual and institutional apparatus.

This apparatus has been increasingly strained in our present period of protestations, contestations and uprisings, of the stark return of the political, and most of the strategies for outmanoeuvring the shortcomings of environmental law remain largely within the same theoretical impasse. Additionally, the rise of popular movements and mobilisations across the political spectrum has left the highly polished, ‘awareness-raising’ and celebrity-endorsed environmental campaigning looking like a lifestyle proposition.

In this new context, critical environmental law, understood as an enquiry into the theoretical and institutional apparatus of environmental law and of environmentalism, as an enquiry into the slippages that intervene at the margins of the intersection between law and ecology, is now both more necessary and more dangerous - necessary, because environmental thought and critical thought are growing more rather than less distant and the effect is seen on the ground; and because the theoretical apparatus driving environmental scholarship is outdated and arguably counter-productive. Dangerous, because critiques of great liberal and international institutions can no longer be performed without concern for the unleashed authoritarian forces in the world today. The opportunity was missed; now it needs to be done the hard way.

Possible themes for papers in this stream include, but are not restricted to:

  • Non-centric and de-centred approaches to environmental law and ethics
  • Connection between environment and resistance and/or environmentalism and populism
  • Eco-activism, protest, civil disobedience and the ‘Rule of Law’
  • Environmental knowledge and Trumpism
  • Autonomy and depoliticisation of environmental law/environmentalism
  • Biopolitical spatiality/territoriality of transnational environmental law
  • The ‘people’ and environmentalism
  • Critique of liberal environmentalism/internationalism

Stream Organisers: Victoria Brooks & Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (Westminster)

Submission of Abstracts:

The epoch of the Anthropocene forces the law to reassess its anthropocentric foundation. As a concept, the Anthropocene refers to the destructive affects of human impact on the planet. It is largely the task of critical legal thinking to construct the juridical responsibility that the human has in relation to the Anthropocene. In thinking through the Anthropocene, there is potential for finding new ‘blind’ spots in legal, moral, ethical and scientific enquiry; and for identifying new limits to human-centered modes of thinking. Critical legal thought has responded by consistently critiquing legal tools such as rights, standing, jurisprudence, personhood and justice, on account of their frequently ‘catastrophic’ effects in terms of the needs of more-than-human bodies. The emergence of the Anthropocene has also produced a movement of refreshed and strengthened critique, mostly coming from new material/gender/queer jurisprudential thought.

This stream invites papers on the potential of critical legal thought to explore the catastrophe of the Anthropocene, both in terms of its endorsement and critique, as well as its subversion. We are open to papers/ performances/ crossmedia/ flashing shorts/ installations/ poster submissions that would bring forth law’s involvement and responsibility towards the Anthropocene, whether from a broadly understood material/ embodied/ emplaced perspective, or a more ecological/ environmental legal perspective. We particularly encourage critical research methods, attempts at troubling standard ethical frameworks, as well as action and thought projects on the occupation of academic space linking to issues of planetary responsibility.

Indicative areas of interest:

  • more-than-human/posthuman jurisprudence
  • anthropocenic responsibility
  • new materialism/speculative realism/OOO and the law
  • bodies and spaces of planetary justice
  • ethics of emplacement/Spinoza and the law
  • critical environmental law
  • radical material methodologies for law and/or their ethical challenges
  • catastrophe and immanence

Stream Organisers: Marinella Machado Araujo (PUC Minas Gerais), Ricardo Sanín Restrepo NUJUP-Brazil), Lina M. Céspedes-Báez & Enrique Prieto-Rios (Rosario, Bogota)

Submission of Abstracts:

Universalism was the direct result of modernity characterised for presenting reason as the exercise of leaving darkness behind. ‘This conception of epistemic superiority is an essential part of what Enrique Dussel calls the myth of modernity. As Dussel mentions, the myth of modernity is constructed upon a concept of sacrifice, the sacrifice that the other must pay for reaching civilization and development, which will favour the majority.’1

In this context, the West became the centre of world history and the world became the place of only one history. The foregoing granted the West a monopoly for the construction of discourses of different disciplines including Law. At the same time, the construction of this legal discourse characterises for pursing what Ricardo Sanin refers to encryption. ‘[T]he encryption of law in the modern sense carries an even deeper and more intricate feature: that of impeding the realization of true democracy through the entanglement of the meaning of the law. Encryption, then, not only serves the purpose of upending democracy, but it also severs politics as it privatizes it to the sole dominium of experts.’ 2

‘Encryption does not consist solely in hiding the true meaning of things, but hiding them in a way in which the meaning becomes a non-meaning or absolute meaninglessness. What encryption inhibits is the bare possibility of communication of meanings that are not programmed from a model where the political lexicon is fully hierarchized.’ In this context, this stream seeks to create a space for the problematization of the Encryption of the legal discourse. This problematization looks at the influence of colonialism and imperialism in the processes of universalisation of Western legal principles and the construction of an encrypted discourse hiding socio-economic realities of the struggle for power. 3

  1. Enrique Dussel, 1492 El Encubrimiento del Otro: Hacia el Origen del Mito de la Modernidad, (Plural Editores - Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias de la Educacion- UMSA, 1994) 74
  2. Ricardo Sanín Restrepo Decolonizing Democracy: Power in a Solid State (Rowman and Littlefield. London. 2016)
  3. Ibid.

Stream Organisers: Leticia da Costa Paes (Birkbeck), Juliana Streva (Free University Berlin) & Oscar Guardiola-Rivera (Birkbeck)

Submission of Abstracts:

Felix Guattari insisted that the capitalist system, which is the field of economy, is inseparable from its counterpart in the field of desire which invests in the modern individual, the source of western subjectivity. This mode of culture/subjectivity was forced on the world through colonisation targeting not only other continents but also minorities within the western world. The axioms of capitalism operate through modes of existence, habits and affections that attempt to vanish everything that resists its imposition. We are all caught up in a middle of this scenario where it seems impossible to find a way out.

The anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro says that the amerindians affirmed the truth that there is life outside capitalism and their way of existence represents an alternative force from the logic of State’s production. It would be mistaken to think that the aim of this claim is to rescue the forms that such amerindian ethics generated in the past, but rather it demands the activation, in today’s context, of a theory/practice able to create new concepts and fight for new existence. For Viveiros, the Indigenous are all minorities that are resisting the capitalist mega-machine. To become indigenous is a choice to create lines of flight for new forms of practice/action or an investment in acts which only keep the system alive.

This stream asks how the current scenario must change critique itself or what do we want to achieve from critical theory. How might we produce our subjectivity differently? What we are capable of becoming? How radical are critical theories? How can we think the relationship between politics and rights that is up to the task of radical change? We are interested in reaching a double movement: the one that questions what kind of critique is still capable of being effective within legal studies, considering the political context that we live in nowadays; and simultaneously the one that allows the continuous explorations of new terrains of thought/practice and creation of new concepts. We invite papers on:

  • Colonialism, desire, politics and law
  • Struggles for rights and becoming minority
  • Capitalism, control, production of subjectivity and lines of flight
  • Decolonisation of thought, critic and practice
  • Democracy to come and the people to come

Stream Organisers: Jayan Nayar & Raza Saeed (Warwick)

Submission of Abstracts:

Thinking ‘catastrophe’ is now in vogue; it is the fashion of both the conservative and progressive camps to ascribe the catastrophic to the present as it portends the future. Yet, catastrophe is not something out of the ordinary, exceptional and ruptural, not when seen from the vantage point of peoples past and present, of the Third World, of the global south. ‘Catastrophe’ in this sense is an utterance from a location of complacency, following a gaze upon the world that is privileged, seeing suffering, apparently suddenly awoken to the catastrophic. No, whatever the fashion of thinking ‘catastrophe’, the catastrophic is nothing extra-ordinary; it is ubiquitous, the normality of many still continuing imperial presents.

In this stream we intend to ask some fundamental questions: What are variously ‘catastrophes’ as the realities of the world are witnessed? Who names ‘catastrophe’ out of normality? Through which gaze do these labels emerge? In what register of historical accounting does that catastrophic everyday become, in thought, ‘catastrophe’? When does catastrophe begin and end? The idea behind asking these questions is to critically interrogate the location of ‘catastrophic-thinking’ and its correlative imaginary of ‘rupture’, and to reveal the hegemonic/colonial-imperial continuities that materially create worlds and discursively pervade the thinking of ‘catastrophe’.

We invite to this stream therefore disruptive thinking. Specifically, we invite third-world, de-colonial and counter-hegemonic interrogations of the foundational categories of human-beingness (and her place in a disenchanted 'nature') in Eurocentric philosophy that purportedly informs the duality of the normal and the exceptional/catastrophic. And following from these other readings of the catastrophic, we invite imaginations of resistance.

Stream Organiser: Teodora Todorova (Warwick)

Submission of Abstracts:

On the eve of the hundredth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, Palestine-Israel finds itself existing in a complex set of overlapping and mutually exclusive legal and extra-legal regimes. From the numerous United Nations Resolutions passed since 1947 stipulating its disputed boundaries and the rights of those who live in the land, to the dual systems deployed by the Israeli state to govern its 1948 territory, and since 1967 the Occupied Territories of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, Palestine-Israel is without a doubt a land characterised by law and legal and extra-legal decisionism.

This stream invites contributors to look at the evolution of the law and legal decisionism in Palestine-Israel in its historical and contemporary guises. Reflections on the socio-legal context and its effects, as well as critical perspectives on the law in Palestine-Israel by historians, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, critical theorists, scholars of architecture, and other fields outside and including law are welcome.

Key themes to explore include but are not limited to:

  • The law and its effects on the construction of contemporary and historical subjectivities in Palestine-Israel
  • The law as a tool for the (re)construction of geo-political boundaries
  • The law and rights to and over land
  • The law as enabling/disabling human rights in Palestine-Israel
  • The Palestinian refugees and the right of return
  • The relationship between ethnic and religious minorities, the law, and citizenship.
  • Legal decisionism beyond the law, i.e. administrative detention and the military courts
  • Deconstructing the metaphor of Gaza as the largest open air prison in the world
  • The legacies of British mandate, Jordanian and Egyptian law in the West Bank and Gaza pre-1967, and their role in the evolution of Israeli military governance in the Occupied Territories, as well as the legal system developed by the Palestinian Authority since its establishment in 1994.

Stream Organiser: Henrique Carvalho (Warwick)

Submission of Abstracts:

The proposed stream welcomes contributions informed by the relationship between structures of political violence and justice. More specifically, it seeks to attract papers which aim to trace, analyse and interrogate the history, context, expression and lived experiences of political violence and which, in doing so, engage in a critical way with the question of how (or whether) justice can be pursued and actualised—in any of its many manifestations—amidst or against such violence.

A key element of this stream lies in promoting a thicker and more holistic conception of political violence. Here, this concept is understood not simply as violence carried out in a systematic way by state actors or in pursuit of a political ideology, but rather suggests that there are forms of violence which are directly linked to political authority and society, and which are therefore intrinsically related to political values, symbols and images; which are engendered in political campaigns, rhetoric, power and institutions; and which shape everyday experiences of injustice, inequality and marginalisation. This conception thus aims to highlight both the structural dimension of political violence, and the extent to which it shapes and influences the social identity and lived experiences of those who are subjected to it, as well as those who perpetuate it.

From this perspective, a wider spectrum of phenomena can be discussed and challenged as forms of political violence. Examples may include not only authoritarianism, geopolitical power, and political conflict, but also incidences of socio-political disenfranchisement and exclusion, corruption and impunity, and more general forms of political and institutional repression and violence, such as punishment or discrimination. Finally, the proposed relation between political violence and justice seeks to encourage contributors to see these instances of political violence not as inevitable or inescapable, but as real problems with which we must deal and engage; it thus encourages ways of imagining a world without violence and ways of eroding such violence. Ultimately, this proposed stream raises the issue of how to pursue justice in an unjust world.

Stream Organisers: Mark Harris & Denise Ferreira da Silva (University of British Columbia)

Submission of Abstracts:

The global moment is confirmation of the escalating cycle of violence manifested in displacement, dispossession and ultimately death. Daily we witness and are affected by the scenes of state and imperial violence (police, private security companies, armies, and so on), low-intensity urban warfares, regional, and local wars. Consistently, this deployment of total violence targets the populace of the postcolonial territories - the black and brown persons killed by the police in US central cities and the the other settler-colonial states, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere as well as scenes of regional and local conflict. This is always justified by co-existing mechanisms of symbolic violence, moments of erasure and criminalization of the post/colonial 'Other' embodied in the textual and discursive representations found in sites such as legislation, constitutions, treaties and policy. And always this is played out in the context of continuing global colonial violence against racial and ethnic minorities and Indigenous peoples and the ineffectiveness of responses and remedies framed through the human rights framework and the body of international law.

This stream will reflect upon the displacement, dispossession and death and attend the current global moment. Without making a prescriptive demand for the format some of the questions that might be engaged with include: How do we understand the violence that attends these moments? What ethical responses can be made to the violence? Is it possible to dismantle the architecture of oppression in any of its myriad iterations and forms including Empire, capitalism, neo-liberalism and settler colonialism? From a theoretical perspective that takes the 'postcolony’ as a point of departure for thinking, the papers might engage with, for instance, Taussig’s ’spaces of death’, Mbembe’s notion of necropolitics, and Silva’s 'zones of violence’ as well as introduce new concepts and formulations.

Stream Organisers: Cosmin Cercel (Nottingham), Gian Giacomo Fusco (Kent) & Dr Simon Lavis (Open University)

Submission of Abstracts:

This stream aims to discuss moments of rupture and disruption within the symbolic fabric of society in both contemporary and historical settings by focusing on the ways in which law and social theory conceptualise social change and upheaval. It intends to do so by inquiring into the specificities and limits of legal theory, philosophy and semiotics as well as by questioning the active and often latent ways in which law contributes to the unfolding of catastrophes. Our inquiry is, then, threefold: jurisprudential, historical and political. On a theoretical level we invite papers to explore conceptual frameworks in law and the humanities that are able to map, render and problematize the relation between order and strife. In this respect, we hope the stream can begin to critically reappraise and problematise concepts such as exception, anomie, revolution or emergency, by reflecting on their genealogical and semiotic weight, as well by attempting to usefully reconstruct them. Historically, we are interested in examining contexts underlining or supporting moments of revolutionary rupture, civil war or conflict by inquiring the place of law and ideology in either containing, supporting or erasing these dynamics and/or their effects. Last, we aim to scrutinize and reflect on how legal thought and praxis operate in either negating, foreclosing or addressing catastrophe and on the role of critique in severing law from its complicity with violence.

Possible topics that speakers are invited to explore include:

  • Marxist legal theory and the concept of revolution;
  • The legal and intellectual roots of fascist and right-wing authoritarianism;
  • Carl Schmitt’s interwar works and their historical context;
  • Agamben’s ‘state of exception’;
  • Law and (post)communism;
  • Law and the Holocaust;
  • Walter Benjamin’s philosophy of history;
  • The rise of the Right: past and present;

Stream Organiser: Anastasia Tataryn (Liverpool)

Submission of Abstracts:

This stream invites contributions that think of transition and transformation following a social upheaval, uprising or revolution. Often, processes of economic reform, new democratic elections, programmes of amnesty, lustration or prosecution, uprisings and revolutions are used to assess state/governance changes, to judge movements as either successes or failures. This stream invites contributions to consider possibilities beyond ‘transition’, to thinking of what change and transformation post-conflict, particularly post-violent uprising and social upheaval, means.

Questions to consider include, is it useful to think of transformative justice, to ask where, how and why certain changes, transformations or repetitions/reaffirmations are taking place in a post-trauma society (society: space, population, country, nation)? Transition, on the one hand, suggests a linear progressive narrative whereby one regime is replaces by another seemingly more ‘just’, democratic or peaceful governance structure. Transformation, on the other, takes into account the intersecting, interlocking or discordant interest, actors, narratives and mythologies that continually contest in media, popular culture, opinion and politics. But does thinking of terms just add to discursive distraction? How do we actually measure and talk about change? Is it manifest through social movement? Legal forms? Does one necessarily follow, or lead to, the other?

Transformation could mean putting our paradigm of analysis on its head. It is a creative process, one which relies on ‘active’ outputs: art, music, emotion; a matrix of circulations that form and inform life. Yet do we ever get away from trying to capture a movement, a closure that performs its own violence? Or is a re-volution necessarily a circularity? To continue the Leonard Cohen theme of the conference's call for papers, is it true of uprisings and revolutions that to be 'born again is born without a skin, the poison enters into everything'?

Stream Organiser: Ron Milland (Independent)

Submission of Abstracts:

The slowly unfolding catastrophe currently referred to as ‘Anthropocene’ generates a number of dire questions that we cannot even ask – let alone begin to answer – without deep thought. This panel asks how such deep thought might be possible in the face of the self-indulgent apocalypse narratives (Haraway), barbarism, infernal alternatives and sorcery (Stengers), and blind panic / desire to look away (Klein) that are engendered in catastrophic time. What creative practices and pathways can we cultivate to make thought possible?

Amongst the many perspectives we may consider is this provocation from “Staying with the Trouble” by Donna Haraway:

“What is it to surrender the capacity to think? These times called the Anthropocene are times of multispecies, including human, urgency: of great mass death and extinction; of onrushing disasters, whose unpredictable specificities are foolishly taken as unknowability itself; of refusing to know and to cultivate the capacity of response-ability; of refusing to be present in and to onrushing catastrophe in time; of unprecedented looking away. […] How can we think in times of urgencies without the self-indulgent and self-fulfilling myths of apocalypse, when every fiber of our being is interlaced, even complicit in the webs of processes that must somehow be engaged and repatterned? Recursively, whether we asked for it or not, the pattern is in our hands.”

Before engaging in the important praxis of repatterning, Haraway challenges us to “think new thoughts.” But how might we do this – while avoiding the self-indulgent and self-fulfilling traps she describes? How might we shift our collectively averted gaze – that unprecedented looking away – toward a constructive or creative view of catastrophe and the urgency that characterizes the Anthropocene?

In the face of this daunting line of questioning, this stream invites not so much answers, but potential pathways. Papers from across the disciplines and outside of academia are welcome and may include either methods of thought or practice that have been tried, or theoretical possibilities that have been imagined, but not yet tried. Creative and unconventional thinking is encouraged. How might we stimulate critical self-reflection? In what ways can telling new stories – and, perhaps, teaching in ways that foster new criticisms – lead to new ideologies? And, perhaps most importantly, how might we engage in forms of collaborative resistance – both in thought, and, in practice – that are creative, inspirational, and even joyful?

Ideas we might draw on include:

  • spiritual activism / light in the dark (Anzaldúa)
  • staying with the trouble (Haraway)
  • the arts of the pharmakon (Stengers)
  • magic / animism / shamanism / modes of paying attention (Stengers, Todd)
  • anti-fascist aesthetics (Blencowe)
  • convivial culture beyond melancholia (Gilroy)
  • matters of care and speculative ethics (Puis de la Bellacasa)
  • coexistentialism (Mickey)

Stream Organiser: Jacopo Martire (Stirling)

Submission of Abstracts:

Political philosopher Brian Massumi argues that the emerging figure of a ‘nonstandard environment, characterized by an ever-presence of indiscriminate threat, riddled with the anywhere-anytime potential for the proliferation of the abnormal, possessed of a threatening autonomy’ is generating a new form of power. Faced with the perennial spectre of aleatory catastrophes, power has abandoned the Foucauldian paradigm of biopower to adopt that of ontopower. While the first was essentially a reactive strategy – operating within the context of a static nature to impose upon individuals and populations the internalisation of normed conducts that would ensure the optimisation of the balance among given environmental regularities – ontopower is proactive and preemptive: its fundamental goal not that of ensuring the equilibrium, of regularities but of investing the whole plane of existence, to perpetually and pre-emptively re-invent the environment in order to ‘hijack’ potential emergencies, almost ‘countermimicking’ a yet-to-occur accident. In this context, catastrophes are not to be seen as a sudden and exceptional overturning of an established order; rather they represent the elemental substratum upon which ontopower operates as a process that algorithmically re-produces and directs an incessantly shifting system.

The purpose of the present stream is to conjure a variegated reflection on the theoretical relationship between catastrophe and ontopower, as well as to offer a tentative diagram of the governmental mechanisms that operationalise ontopower. In particular, the stream welcomes papers investigating the role of law within this new environment of emergency and its capacity to implement or disrupt ontopower dynamics: How is the legal-political complex modulating our environment against the ontological horizon of an ever-looming and ubiquitous catastrophe? How is law itself changing in the context of ontopower? Along with more theoretical approaches, points of discussion might include, but are not limited to:

  • Ontopower and the biosphere
  • Ontopower and climate change
  • Ontopower and refugees
  • Ontopower and war/terrorism
  • Ontopower and democracy
  • Ontopower and economy
  • Ontopower and information technology

Stream Organiser: Oliver Bartlett (Liverpool)

Submission of Abstracts:

The biggest catastrophes humanity faces are arguably yet to happen. Today, we are confronted by a multitude of increasingly pressing global catastrophic risks: greenhouse gas emissions; increasing consumption of alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy foods; and the accumulation of space junk to name a few. Some are already generating significant crises – the growing burden of non-communicable disease and climate change for example. However, all require urgent attention to ensure that human society remains sustainable.

Law-makers seeking to shape human society and activity in ways that alleviate such global catastrophic risks are often faced with decisions that are impossible to fully reconcile. How, for example should an individual’s right to self-determination be weighted again preventing the harm that today’s autonomous choices might cause them tomorrow? How is the desire to expand one frontier of human achievement to be balanced against the risk that another might be permanently closed?

Law-makers have therefore relied on legal principles to guide the process of adopting laws that seek to control or shape global catastrophic risk factors. These principles provide a mechanism through which to manage the balancing of competing – sometimes irreconcilable – interests, rights or moral concerns. However, such legal principles – proportionality, precaution, and others – are not always objective, nor are they panaceas that always illuminate the most appropriate path. Rather, they are subjective, dynamic, malleable, and constantly evolving.

This stream gives participants the opportunity to reflect on the development of such abstract legal principles against the backdrop of their application in policy action against existential population threats – action which may have occurred for decades, a few years, or which might only just be beginning. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss the effectiveness of these principles in guiding global catastrophic risk governance, and to ask whether they need to be revised, or even replaced.

Stream Organiser: Iain Frame (Kent)

Submission of Abstracts:

This steam builds on the stream started at the CLC 2016 and has the very broad aim of providing a space for discussion for those who have an interest in (i) critical legal studies (however understood) and (ii) capitalism or the economy or economics or commercial law or finance, or other related areas. The motivation for providing this space is a sense that many of us with an interest in the CLC also have an interest in understanding, critically analysing, and perhaps re-imagining the relationship between law (or specific areas of law) and some aspect of our modern day, post financial crisis, capitalist economy. Papers may include:

  • critical approaches to economics, such as Marxism, feminism or post-Keynesianism.
  • historical, or empirical, or philosophical approaches.
  • analysis of recent trends such as financialization, debt-fueled crises, the emergence of regimes like the proposed TTIP, or shifts in income and wealth inequality.

Stream Organisers: Samuel Kirwan & Tara Mulqueen (Warwick)

Submission of Abstracts:

In times of catastrophe, as institutions break down, become predatory, or fail to meet their responsibilities; or, as policies such as austerity are merely brought to their own logical conclusions, alternatives forms of relation and community come to the fore. Often they were already there, silently and consistently performing the everyday work of sustaining communities at the margins. They may also permeate dominant organisations or institutions as a kind of internal resistance. At other times they emerge in direct response to new threats.

Neoliberalism’s intimate catastrophes of deportations, evictions and homelessness, benefit delays and sanctions, precarious employment, spiraling personal and priority debt have produced various forms of alienation and stoked a racist, nationalistic and xenophobic politics. These have been met in turn with resistance and movement building; hospitality networks and sanctuary movements; queer spaces and communities; the local organization of legal advice and education; personal crowd-funding and direct forms of material redistribution; occupations to provide shelter for the homeless, and countless other efforts. All of these present and manifest the possibility of alternative modes of being and relationality.

In this stream we want to consider what it means to be alternative and how alternative modes of relationality interact with, respond to, undermine (or perhaps even implicitly support and enable) forms of degradation and alienation given by neoliberalism. How are legal and moral frameworks used, contravened, manipulated and negotiated in these networks and relationships. And how are alternatives to such frameworks developed and maintained therein? We invite papers exploring the creation, maintenance, as well as failure, of alternatives modes of relationality in circumstances of catastrophe, large and small. We invite reflections upon the potential (and failure) of such networks to maintain a critical force within broader legal and political fields. We encourage consideration of why the state and its attendant conceptions of public welfare have proven so vulnerable to the logics and policies of neoliberalism, and what makes alternatives different in the first place. We welcome papers from a variety of empirical and theoretical perspectives.

Stream Organiser: Immaculate Motsi-Omoijiade (Warwick)

Submission of Abstracts:

Birthed by Clayton Christensen in 1995, the notion of ‘Disruptive Innovation’ has been used to conceptualise the advent of everything from automobiles, personal computing, the internet and cellular phones to, more recently, cloud computing, 3D-printing and the rise of companies such as Uber and Netflix. Describing a process through which existing companies, processes and business models (incumbents) are supplanted and displaced by more innovative and technologically advanced companies, processes and business models (disrupters), the notion of disruption has moved beyond its business-orientated conceptual silo and permeated the lexicology of the anti-establishment. Representing as they do the twin bastions of the supra-establishment that is the state, the fields of Law (enforcing state exclusivity to the legitimate use of force) and monetary finance (establishing state monopoly in the generation of value) have both been shaken by the wave of disruption primarily through the growing ubiquity of blockchain or distributed ledger technology. The end effect of Christensen’s theory of disruption is, in fact, destruction which often reads as catastrophe to incumbents, the status-quo and more recently expressed, the Establishment. This stream is aimed at critically assessing the notion of disruption in general, and more specifically, the disruption to law and finance caused by the advent of blockchain and distributed ledger technology where catastrophe has opened up the possibility of social ordering beyond the state and created, through for example the anarcho-capitalism that forms the esprit de corps of the cryptocurrency community, new spaces for resistance and solidarity. Or does it? Papers are welcome on topics including by not restricted to:

  • Blockchain Law and Blockchain applications
  • Smart Contracts
  • Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC)
  • Distributed Autonomous Organizations
  • Cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Litecoin etc)
  • Critical engagement with the notion of ‘Disruption’
  • Peer to Peer Financial Models

Stream Organisers: Moniza Rizzini Ansari (Birkbeck) & Johanna Cortes-Nieto (Warwick)

Submission of Abstracts:

Over 3 billion of people today live under conditions of poverty, misery and starvation in the world today. It is commonplace to refer to global poverty as one of the main catastrophes of our time. Mainstream discourses usually represents it as a problem of scarcity which results from causes ranging from lack of growth and employment to individual failure. More nuanced representations include factors such as “toxic” environments, powerlessness, lack of freedoms, and so forth. Critical representations frequently focus on the relationship between poverty and capitalism, and the poor as surplus populations subjected to control and management. The helpfulness of talking about poverty altogether is questioned in many scenarios, while proposals to shift the focus to inequality emerge as an alternative.

Apart from constituting an economic negative and relative concept – as lack of material means of subsistence, dispossessions contrasted to accumulations of wealth – a political notion of poverty is frequently touched upon in political philosophy, but not directly thematised. Its composing elements appear, directly or indirectly, in discussions of rightlessness and political subjectivity, where a link is often too abruptly established between lack of material means and socio-political dehumanization. Thus, the poor is theoretically treated as exception, surplus, remnant of the functioning of systems, playing at most a role of challenging the order of such systems, as a paradox.

The aim of this stream, however, is to reframe poverty as a political category rather than a socioeconomic one. We are looking into the different narratives produced about “the poor” and the many ways in which they impact our perceptions of life in poverty. If we take the legal world as a specific field of documentation and narrative production one can find a normative invisibility of poverty along with processes of criminalization. The poor are not merely prohibited and outlawed, they are unnameable, abnormalised and inexistent in the legal discourse.

This stream invites proposals on critical, interdisciplinary and creative engagements with poverty and the politics of poverty which look beyond the traditional framework. We are especially interested in alternative methodologies and interdisciplinary perspectives that engage with different fields of research, such as social cartography, oral history, arts, cinema, and so on.

We invite contributions which examine issues such as:

  • Accumulation, dispossession and inequality under urban capitalism. 

  • The everyday life formation of the working class and the surplus populations 

  • Poverty and processes of subjectivation. 

  • Imageries of the poor and the aesthetics of poverty 

  • Neoliberal (re)production of poverty and the subjectivity of the poor. 

  • Neoliberal technologies/techniques for the government of the poor: human capital, precarisation, 
debt, securitisation of poverty, and others. 

  • Charity, development and humanitarian aid as new forms of colonial power. 

  • Social movements and resistances to discourses and practices that produce social control of the poor. 

  • Rethinking the body: intersections of resiliency theories and/or the affective turn 

Stream Organisers: Matilda Arvidsson (Lund University) & Toni Selkälä (Turku University)

Submission of Abstracts:

Human life depends on and is sustained by the death and consummation of others. Unless we eat something or someone we cannot live ourselves. Yet, we divide over what, how, and who to eat. This stream asks us to consider how our eating of others (plants, human-, and non-human animals) sustains our standing in a global legal-political order of gendered speciesism. Through technology of eating, we imperviously transform living entities into objects for us to eat, while simultaneously disclosing (sexual) politics of our eating (Adams, 2015). You are what you eat as Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2009) solicitously portrays. Consuming is not simply an ethical choice but also a profoundly ontological one, or as Stanescu suggests ‘a perpetual process of self-metamorphosis’ (2012, 39). Part of such a process is to define what constitutes meat – is ‘meatless’ in vitro meat (IVM), promising animal liberation and cleaner environment, meat? (Stephens, 2013) – and devouring others. But does constant boundary-work risk to turn us into a standing-reserve of future consumption (Heidegger, 1977: 27), of us turning into cannibals ready to mutilate and enslave (Engle, 1992: 1519)? Would cannibal veganism amount to greater realization of rights of both consumed and consumer or into a catastrophic collapse of our relationship with Nature and the animal-in-us (Viveiros de Castro 2014 & Sutton 2017)?

Taking the overall theme of the conference ‘catastrophe’ to mean the life-producing, slow, everyday event of being through the death of others this stream asks if what, how, and whom we eat may tell us something important about our moral and legal standing.

We invite vegan-feminists, cannibals, and other lawyers to propose (traditional) academic papers, eat-ins, and the likes, on the following or related themes:

  • The laws of eating
  • Eating well, transubstantiation, and the economy of sacrifice
  • Personhood and animality
  • Meat (my own and others) in the global legal and political order
  • Gendered meat, gendered protein
  • New kinds of “meat” (IVM), vegetarianism, and cannibalism