CfP Sensorial Legalities: Speculating Aesthetics and Art/Law Stream Critical Legal Conference Lund Deadline 15 July 2024

Stream conveners: Julia Chryssostalis, Yiorgos-Evgenios Douliakas, Swastee Ranjan and Lucy Finchett-Maddock

While speculative thinking has been present throughout the history of ideas, its recent re-emergence as a site for critical and socio-legal theory has been grounded in developments in posthuman, new materialist and speculative realist thinking. These theoretical frameworks have broadened the understanding of law in relation to its environment through time, space, materiality, affect, aesthetics, and practice. Moreover, in recent years, an increasing body of scholarship that has been exploring law’s sensorial lives: the protocols the law uses (and abuses) to see, hear, touch, smell, and taste; the spaces, instruments and media that it uses (and abuses) to do so; and the strategies and techniques it deploys in order to continue not to see, hear, touch, etc.; as well as the protocols, spaces, instruments and techniques through which the law is seen, heard, touched, smelled, and tasted, and the ways that law itself regulates what is seen, heard, touched, smelled, and tasted. In other words, attempting to move beyond the question of whether and how law feels or thinks, we are interested in how it senses. That is to say, our aim is to probe into the legal life of the senses and in the sensorial life of law as well as the ways in which life is sensed in law. This turn towards the sensorial and the affective not only animates the material but poses questions on the various possibilities of representation that goes beyond categories of taste and judgment. In this context, speculating aesthetics foregrounds the material and sensorial, among other things, displaces the bias of anthropocentric thinking that has occupied broad swathes of preceding philosophical engagement, challenges a turn to a realism outside of our conception (and one similarly altered from the realism of pre-structural and post-structural thought), and seeks to engage in experimental imaginaries which illuminates our complex socio-political and economic contexts.

Speculative affective aesthetics in law understands that questions of law cannot be separated from the spatial, material and temporal. It suggests that “law leaks from building[s], filling up the spaces of its surrounding with a pulsating promise of its affect.” The speculative potential of the affective and the sensorial become sites for law to ‘stage’ itself and emerge as a normative category that directs and composes the real. At the same time, the de-centring of the human has become prominent not only within contemporary legal philosophy, but so too within contemporary art practices, and its co-fabulation through art/law and affective aesthetics.  Art/law denotes uncertainty found in the ‘/’ of art/law as entropy, an emergent mattering of law and art in its non-dialectic movement and synchronicity. This accounting for the way matter changes, alters and makes way for the juridical potentiality of every moment, every legal iteration, and every possibility for resistance and creativity, through material interfaces, whereby contemporary art practices understand this power of incompletion and change within their work; tempering the questioning of art for art’s sake and any division between the political and juridical, speculation becoming a tool for hardnessing emancipatory practices. Following from this, speculative thinking has become synonymous with imagining new futures and emancipatory capacities, where worlds “are not containers, they’re patternings, risky co-makings, speculative fabulations.” It has become influential in science fiction writing and the development of Afrofuturism through the work of science fiction writer Octavia Butler, and jazz musician Sun Ra amongst many others, where new endings and new beginnings are reimagined and time turned in its head, for colonised and racialised peoples (seen as freedom from white imposed slavery).

We welcome abstracts that speak to the speculative sensorial in law, legal affective aesthetics and their crossovers, examples of art/law that bring law and art together with respect for their incomplete speculative potentialities through written, textual, video, visual or sonic form.  Here are relevant themes:

·   Law and Emotion;
·   Law and Senses;
·   Sensorial legality;
·   Sensational jurisprudence;
·   Legal Regimes of the sensible;
·   Affective aesthetics and contemporary art;
·   Art/law;
·   Art, material change and law;
·   Video work and forensic aesthetics;
·   Performance, change and law;
·   Material witnessing and art;
·   Afrofuturism and law;
·   Colonialism, entropy and law;
·   Writing, speculative tabulation and law;
·   Forensics, aesthetics and contemporary art;
·   Environment Law and Art.

Please send abstracts with relevant media to Yiorgos-Evgenios Douliakas and Swastee Ranjan

Please send your abstract proposal to the stream convenor as stated in the stream you are interested in submitting your contribution to. You may also send a proposal to the general stream to if you want to submit a paper that does not fit the other streams.

Abstract length: max 350 words

Deadline: 30 June

Conference Website.

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