CfP: Law and the Senses II: Human, Posthuman, Inhuman Sensings, Westminster 17–18 November 2016

by | 25 Feb 2016

Picture1What (who) is sensing? Do senses belong to the realm of the subjective and thus non sunt disputandum? Or are they objective, as the truth-validating paradigm of vision indicates? Can we touch without being touched? What remains of the subject/object dualism when we are immersed in the impersonal materiality of a soundscape? Are neurological phenomenologies of pheromones sufficient to account for the role played by odour in life?

And beyond the human: are senses trapped within the phenomenological or can they be thought and indeed sensed in a non-phenomenological sense, namely as institutional rather than just personal affects? What about the promise of new technologies to rewrite the frontiers of the sensible into inhuman scales and temporalities? What does sensing become in the Anthropocene, and what will the sense of sensing be ‘after’ the human?

Law has been slow to recognise and engage with the sensorial. Despite a recent turn, as demonstrated by a wave of publications and conferences, the full relevance of the sensorial vis-à-vis the law is yet to be fully unfolded. Legal thought insists on oscillating between the two sides (law vs. the senses) of an unquestioned opposition. However, whereas law is an anaesthetic engaged in numbing the senses into common sense, it is also intrinsically dependent on, and indeed emerging from, the sensorial. How to understand the way the law-senses assemblage unfolds then, if not by looking closer into the paradox between the de-sensitising project of law and the multi-sensorial process of legal emergence? The epistemological and ethical significance of this endeavour has never been more evident: dramatic environmental changes, technological advancement, pervasive mediation, new material and post-human direction of thinking, capitalist hyperaesthesia and innovative art practices, all gesturing towards novel ways, subjects and objects of sensing, whose impact on questions of agency, responsibility and politics cannot  be underestimated. Before this grand rearticulation of the sensorial takes full hold of the human, it is time for law to engage fully with this complex and promising realm.

Law and the Senses II: human, posthuman, inhuman sensings encourages you to investigate the sensing of law, the capacity for law to (make) sense, and the possibility for law to sense differently. We welcome trans-disciplinary contributions, from legal, geographical, sociological, psychological, philosophical, political and cultural areas, as well as from the arts (space for exhibitions and performances will be provided).

This conference seeks to interfere with the standard conference format. We wish to shake such an often taken for granted scaffolding, not to propose ‘better’ models, but rather to produce interferences, noise and turbulence, out of which we hope creative encounters would emerge. This does not mean to get rid of the rules and internal regulations of conferencing altogether, but instead to open a fuzzier space for the conference to unfold, by making such constraints less rigid and suffocating. There will be given no time for presentations, though remains for the moderator the duty to prevent them becoming infinite. We invite to propose presentations conceived as a tool for stimulating a debate, rather than unilateral talks addressed to a passive audience. Therefore we kindly ask to refrain from merely reading out papers and rather trying to perform them through your voice and body, handing out material, using power points, notes, or any other format you prefer.

Westminster Law & Theory Lab, London (November 17-18, 2016)

Please send your abstracts by 2nd May 2016 to

Organising team: Danilo Mandic, Caterina Nirta,  Andrea Pavoni with Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos.


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