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Marxist Legal Theory: Security

Key Concept This is part of a series of key concepts in Marxist legal theory organized in collaboration with our friends at Legal Form: A Forum for Marxist Analysis of Law. All articles in this series, including the present one, will appear concurrently on Legal Form and Critical Legal Thinking. The concept of security has significant implications for a Marxist theory…

CfP: The Bubble: Metaphors we survive by (with apologies to Lakoff & Johnson)

We get the metaphors we deserve. Metaphors are indispensable tools for making sense of reality, including the ongoing reality of systemic colonial relations—or to obfuscate it (to deflect the need to enact substantive decolonisation agendas, for example). In times of crisis they perform a crucial role in translating and interpreting a rapidly changing world. Viral…

Remembering Peter Fitzpatrick (II)

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I read for a PhD under Peter’s inimitable supervision at Birkbeck from 2005 until late 2008, at which point I told him that I had to return to Australia to finish the dissertation because the birth of my first child, Phoebe, was imminent. It sounds like I took drastic evasive action to avoid the difficult…

Institutional Vandalism: The University & Covid-19

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The Guardian’s 29 May article (‘Soas to slash budgets and staff as debt crisis worsens in a pandemic’) has brought attention to a worrying development, which risks seeing losses of livelihoods and expertise at a unique and world-renowned institution. The danger is that framing SOAS’s financial difficulties in isolation obscures the fact that this is…

The System Was Never Broken (it was built this way)

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The unravelling developments in the United States of America (USA) amid the death of George Floyd are unsettling. The terminology ‘public order’ is used by popular political narrative to host and then employ a variety of techniques to deflect from the justified concerns surrounding social and racial justice. Frantz Fanon said: “When we revolt it’s…

Beyond Brutality

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I write this at great distance from the uprisings now taking place across the US sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. I am thousands of miles distant and witness police repression, and the anger of the protestors, via old and social media. I am a white Oxford professor, whose efforts at understanding events…

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

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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

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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;…

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…