Critical Legal

Equaliberty: Notes on the Thought of Étienne Balibar

Day and Night, MC Escher, woodcut 1938

It could be asserted that the spectre of Equaliberty (Égaliberté) has haunted Étienne Balibar’s work for decades. Early connotations avant-​la-​lettre can be found in his concept of citizenship as ‘temporary equilibrium’ (Balibar 1988: 724) — a key structural condition that also underpins ‘equaliberty’. The notion itself reappears throughout the entirety of his work; the most differentiated and…

Regulatory exceptionalism: the EU short selling ban

dollar's flow in black hole

A much remarked upon feature of the Global Financial Crisis (‘GFC’) has been the recourse of governments to permanent states of exception, purportedly justified by the need to protect financial stability. We have seen everything from prime ministers being helicoptered in (Romano Prodi), to monetarist central banks buying up bonds and even gilts, to the decision…

The Law of University Protest: Notes from the UK


December 1st saw the launch of “Defend the Irish University”; a charter which underscores common experiences of university privatisation in Ireland and the UK, and suggests possibilities for resistance. It is important to take note of what is happening to students and staff who are contesting the effects of similar austerity and privatisation policies on higher…

A Longer Road to Freedom: Addressing 21st Century Apartheids

Nelson Mandela Monument Marco Cianfanelli

The death of Nelson Mandela seems to unite minds and hearts the world over in a celebration of his life’s achievements and an apparently near-​universal sadness at the passing of ‘a great light’ from the world. International leaders are lining up to give their deeply felt eulogies; national flags fly at half mast over sites of…

Nelson Mandela: The Lawyer’s Ideal

Nelson Mandela at work in the Johannesburg office where he and Oliver Tambo practised law together during the apartheid era. Photograph: Jurgen Schadeberg

Today [Ed: 5 Dec] marks the loss not only of one of the greatest figures of the 20th century, but also one of the greatest lawyers. Most would readily agree that Mandela was a great leader and a great statesman. Indeed, I still remember when as a child I watched on TV with tears of joy as Nelson Mandela danced at…

Letters on Legal Architecture


FIRST LETTER (New York on July 12th 2012) /​/​/​Dear Lucy, I read your essay Archiving Burroughs: Interzone, Law, Self-​Medication with attention and appreciated, as usual, the way you manage to link narrative, law and space all together. I do think however that we should keep this text for a little bit later in our conversation as its…

The Political in the Contract Classroom


When we started ‘The Public Life of Private Law’ one of the conversations we wanted to have with participants, and with others following the series, was about teaching private law from a critical perspective. In particular, we wanted to think about how those of us who fell into teaching private law through a mixture of necessity and serendipity, but…

Palestinian Family Unification in Israel: The Limits of Litigation as Means of Resistance


At the end of March 2002, Eli Yishai, then the Israeli Minister of Internal Affairs, decided that all requests for family unifications submitted by Palestinian citizens of Israel married to Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) would be frozen until further notice. The media reported that the decision was made following the suicide attack…

ELDH Statement on Syria: An alleged crime against humanity should not be punishable by an illegal use of force


The European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH), with members in 18 European countries, is absolutely opposed to the proposed use of illegal force by Western powers against the Syrian regime. The US government is leading a call for military action against Syria which will of necessity kill civilians, with the ostensible purpose of showing…

Law and The Senses: Symposium, Performance, Phenomenon?

Pietro Paolini - Allegory of the Five Senses

The announcement of the event ‘Law and the Senses’ at the University of Westminster sounded intriguing. The call for papers asked: What is Law’s relationship to senses? In a sense, Law, the anaesthetic par excellence, is constantly engaged in numbing the sense into common sense; manipulating, channelling and controlling the sensible; inserting properties and forbidding contacts; dissimulating violence, regulating sounds…

Debating BDS (Boy­cott, Divest­ment, Sanc­tions): Fraser v UCU


On March 22nd, 2013 the Employment Tribunal (UK-London) rendered judgment in the case of Fraser v University & College Union (UCU). Ruling in favour of UCU, the Tribunal’s judgment brought immense relief to UCU members, BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) activists, and others who were anxious about the potential repercussions that a negative outcome might have for freedom of…

Capturing The Social Sciences: An Experiment in Political Epistemology

Bee Orchid

According to the title that identifies this panel, we are here to enter into a discussion around the productive powers of something called “critical theory”. At first sight, critique and productivity might strike anyone as being opposite terms. Isn’t critique related to a certain form of negativity? To saying “no” to power? And isn’t the demands for capitalistic “productivity” what some of us criticise, or at least attempt to do so?

The title of this panel, however, seems to put such a taken-​for-​granted relationship at risk. “The Productive power of critical theory”– can we think of a productive criticality? or a critical productivity? What might it mean to engage in a form of critical-​productive thought and how might such engagements contribute to challenging and transforming our knowledge-​practices within the social sciences and the humanities? These are some of the questions with which I will attempt to experiment in what follows.

To be sure, these questions are not new, and many researchers and thinkers in the social sciences and the humanities are becoming increasingly interested in them, to the extent that arguably none of the latest so-​called turns within these fields, be it the “ontological turn”, the “practice turn”, the “affective turn” and so on, leave the question of the relation between critique and productivity untouched.

Law’s Justice – Editorial from Relaunched Journal: No Foundations

Yoko Ono

The relaunch of No Foundations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law and Justice is devoted to rethinking the possibility of law’s justice. We have chosen to approach this question from a law and humanities perspective, mainly for two reasons. The first is that this interdisciplinary movement, presently gaining momentum in Europe, reconceptualizes law in a way that opens…

Declaration: Hardt & Negri


This is not a manifesto. Manifestos provide a glimpse of a world to come and also call into being the subject, who although now only a specter must materialize to become the agent of change. Manifestos work like the ancient prophets, who by the power of their vision create their own people. Today’s social movements have reversed the order,…

In solidarity with the Greek People


For joint actions around the Greek elections, and for large Euro-Mediterranean’s mobilizations in autumn 2012! The response to the financial and economic crisis is the same everywhere: cuts in expenditure and austerity measures under the pretext of reducing deficits and the repayment of a public debt which is the direct outcome of 20 years of neoliberal…

The Challenges of Indignation: Spain’s 15M


The 15M [the Indignados ‘movement’] is very alive, we see this in the great challenges that await it. It has many achievements, some very visible, like the creation of a different social climate or having socialized the idea that the crisis is a con, and that this con started well before the crisis. A year later it has…