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On Colonial Universality and other Legal Prerogatives: Reflections on Peter Fitzpatrick’s The Mythology of Modern Law

Following the death of Peter Fitzpatrick this month, we are reposting this series on The Mythology of Modern Law, originally edited by Brenna Bhandar & Sara Ramshaw, to mark the 25th anniversary of the book. 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of Peter Fitzpatrick’s The Mythology of Modern Law. An eloquent and incisive critique of Occidental law’s…

Remembering Peter Fitzpatrick

In her beautiful piece for CLT on the life and career of Professor Peter Fitzpatrick, Sundhya Pahuja offers a provocation for someone to write more on Peter’s years in Belfast, teaching Law at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in the late 1960s/early 1970s. While others are much better placed to write about that time, especially Professors…

Vale Peter Fitzpatrick (1 November 1941 – 20 May 2020)

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Peter Fitzpatrick was widely revered as one of the most influential and original critical legal theorists in the English-speaking world.  His work on the colonial and postcolonial dimensions of modern law changed the field of legal theory and inspired the research of many scholars who have themselves gone on to make important contributions to legal…

Zoomism and Discipline for Productive Immobility

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The virus lurks on car door handles, on doorknobs and the floor, on the breath of others or in a friend’s hug, on onions in the supermarket, and on the hands of the valet who parks your car. If you venture outside, everything and everyone is a threat. So, it is better to stay home,…

A Foucauldian enquiry in the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic management (Critique in Times of Coronavirus)

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Is the substantially global management of the coronavirus pandemic a novelty or would it be possible to trace its origin in an earlier order of things? Could the specific model selected for the governance of the ongoing pandemic be subjected to a certain genealogy? According to the text on “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” (1971), Michel Foucault…

The Unjust City: Mapping Exclusion through Aesthetics

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Imre Azem’s documentary ‘Ecumenopolis: City Without Limits’ and the research of Manis K. Jha and Pushpendra Kumar help us to explore on the project of neoliberalism, offering a scathing critique of the exclusion and inaccessibility that accompanies its political logic. While the documentary is a comprehensive work that traces the rapid urbanisation of Istanbul and its problems;…

A Violence Which Must Be Named (Critique in Times of Coronavirus)

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Across the UK two narratives currently dominate and frame much of the critique of the British government’s current response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The first is that of incompetence. The story so far unfolding is that of a government which has ignored both the World Health Organisation’s advice and the experience of numerous other countries…

Prisoners of State (Critique in Times of Coronavirus)

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We have all become prisoners of the State. Wherever we are across the whole planet. It’s a time like no other time in human history or natural history. Is it a force of Nature as virus Covid-19 that has brought this about; or is it something to do with the nature of our State? In our…

Two Problems with Democratic Biopolitics (Critique in times of Coronavirus)

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COVID-19 has led to renewed interest in Michel Foucault’s concept of biopolitics, but it has also revealed that this concept is widely misunderstood. Too many commentators have relied upon an overly broad definition of biopolitics as a ‘politics of health’ or a ‘politics of life.’ Panagiotis Sotiris’ popular recent article ‘Is Democratic Biopolitics Possible?’ exemplifies…

Frederic Jameson: Vanishing Mediator

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Key Concept Frederic Jameson coined the term ‘vanishing mediator’ in an article from 1973 called “The Vanishing Mediator: Narrative Structure in Max Weber”. In that article, he used the vanishing mediator in his analysis of Max Weber and Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Etienne Balibar explains that the vanishing mediator is,…

‘The King is Naked’: Bolsonaro & the Pandemic (Critique in times of Coronavirus)

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The current president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has been relentlessly downplaying the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic comparing it with a simple flue. He has claimed that the lowest social categories of the Brazilian population would be immune to diseases (“the Brazilian jumps into the sewer and doesn’t get anything”) [1]. Bolsonaro’s main point is that the…

Anthropocene Authoritarianism (Critique in Times of Corona)

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There has been much discussion of the biopolitics of the global response to the Coronavirus onCritical Legal Thinking and elsewhere. Many of the pieces have engaged critically with Giorgio Agamben’s interventions, polarising debate.[1]Thus, Karsten Schubert and Panagiotis Sotiris have argued contra Agamben for a ‘democratic biopolitics’ while Tim Christaens has raised the dangers of normalising new…

Crying for Repression: Populist and Democratic Biopolitics in Times of COVID-19.

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We live in very Foucauldian times, as the many think-pieces published on biopolitics and COVID-19 show. Yet what is remarkable—biopolitically—about the current situation has gone largely unnoticed: We are witnessing a new form of biopolitics today that could be termed populist biopolitics. Awareness of this populist biopolitics helps illuminate what is needed today: democratic biopolitics.…

International Economic Law & COVID-19

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International economic law (IEL), broadly defined, refers to the rules governing the cross-border movement of goods, people, technology and finance capital, as well as the institutions created to design and enforce such rules. IEL has, over the past three decades, developed exponentially as a field of study, evolving from a sub-field of public international law…

Must Society be Defended from Agamben?

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Many European countries have by now been in lockdown for more than a week. This has given everyone ample time to reflect on our current condition. Many of the world’s leading critical thinkers have shared their thoughts with us through op-eds, blog posts, and so on. Among the more troubling are three opinion pieces Giorgio…