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Is History A Coherent Story?

Is history a coherent story? This is not the sort of question that is likely to be either asked or answered in the milieu I normally inhabit. In the universities of Europe and North America (and much of the rest of the world as well), the agenda has veered away asking such big questions. Academic…

The Illegality of Power

Law and juridical discourse play a central role in the configuration of power relations. In order to impose a programme of social cutbacks, a police action and even a protest mobilisation, force is needed. But so too is the ability to appeal to the law as a source of justification. The legality or illegality of…

Occupying Gender in the Singular Plural

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Call me a sissy, but I’ve never particularly cared for being referred to as cisgender. Still, the work of transgendered activists within Occupy Wall Street has been one of things that keep me optimistic. At a November 13th teach-in at Zuccotti Park, just days before the brutal eviction, trans activists took over the people’s mic…

Law & Boundaries: Conference, Science Po, Paris 28–29 March 2012

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Sciences Po Law School will host the Law and Boundaries International Conference on March 28th and 29th 2012. The conference seeks to create a cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural dialogue between students coming from European and foreign universities. The project was initially driven by the feeling that legal scholarship has remained largely silent in the aftermath of…

Tunisia & Critical Legal Theory

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You are warmly invited to the first Kings College, London, Law and Political Thought seminar of the next term, which will take place at 5.30pm on Thursday 19 January in the new year. Dr Illan Rua Wall (Oxford Brookes) will be giving a paper entitled “Unworking Sovereign Consensus – Tunisia & the Critical Legal Theory…

From the Spanish Indignados: In Praise of Optimism

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The elections came, that far off dance, and some voices are wondering what that whole commotion in the squares was about. they look for concrete facts, transformed realities, immediate horizons to get one’s bearings in the economic and social state of exception that is on the way. What they find is not enough for them,…

From the Spanish Indignados: Fear as a political weapon

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The German writer Nemeitz published, in 1718, a book about Paris with “faithful instructions for travellers of standing”. One of his pieces of advice is as follows: “I do not advise anyone to walk through the city amid the dark night. Because, although the round or the guard on horseback might patrol the whole of…

Truth, critique and writing: Foucault, every-day

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The mysterious sequence of these seemingly unconnected words made up the title of my presentation for this year’s Critical Legal Conference. It took me a good few days after the conference, however, to fully grasp what I might have had in mind when I decided to assemble these random words into something. To understand what…

The Irish Crisis: We do have choices

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In the wake of yet another austerity addled budget, a strident chorus of our political leaders and self-proclaimed media statespersons, backed by a broad range of public comprador/organic intellectuals are echoing the sentiments if not the exact words of that great ‘reformer’ Margaret Thatcher – that ‘There is no alternative’ (TINA) to the policies of…

The Irish Crisis: We, the People, are too big to fail

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The Ballyhea Bondholder Bailout Protest, now in its 40th week and joined with Charleville (their 25th week) is about one issue, and one issue only – the transference of private debt to the public purse. In one word, and very pure, very simple, it’s wrong. History On a fateful weekend in September 2008 Taoiseach Brian…

The Irish Crisis: The Dynamics of Complicity

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A year after all of the head-shaking and nay-saying assurances that ‘negotiations’ with the IMF and EU were mere ‘fiction’, the sense of betrayal that Irish people experienced about the then Government’s denial that the Irish nation was about to lose its economic sovereignty is still palpable. This psychological process of denial – the refusal…

The Irish Crisis: Global Crisis, Local Effects

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A few years back, we had a Taoiseach who blamed US banks for the onset of Ireland’s recession. Bertie Ahern claimed again recently in an interview that it was Lehman Brothers wot dun it, his imputation being that locally elected politicians could not be blamed for this economic crisis. We now know differently. This crisis…

The Irish Crisis: Discipline and Punish

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Enda Kenny’s ‘state of the nation’ speech last night was little more than a footnote to the more revealing and fundamental address that he delivered last month to an audience of EU officials, bankers and representatives of the ‘troika’. That speech was, tellingly, addressed not to the Irish people but to the German finance minister,…

The Irish Crisis: The Screwed up state we’re in

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The State of the Nation, I’m afraid, can be summed up in one word – screwed. We can flesh things out a bit, but that’s the nub of it. Every strategic step taken over the past decade has ensured that the screwing would be comprehensive. The crisis isn’t about fiscal problems, the public service or…

The Irish Crisis: Don’t mourn, organise

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My dad died 31 years ago this week. My mom, who has taken up web-development in her mid-70s, went looking for an obscure picture of him to scan into an anniversary email to her children and grandchildren, but instead turned up this beautiful piece of organising ephemera from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, c…

Occupy Utrecht Statement

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This statement expresses the vision and goals set by Occupy Utrecht (The Netherlands) in solidarity with all Occupy movements across the globe. Occupy The global Occupy movement consists of people who have spontaneously come into action for worldwide economical and social-societal change. The movement has no central organisation or leaders. Occupiers, as in their name,…

Owning Up: Academic Responsibility in a Polarised Political Landscape

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A Sigh of Relief There was a sigh of relief when, after a farcical legal process, befitting an Ally McBeal-type scenario of the bizarre and surreal, Wilders (the anti-Islam/Muslim politician) was acquitted from incitement to hatred and criminal insult. The acquittal had been pushed for right from the moment the Court of Appeal had ordered…

Image as Interest: Occupy & the Pepper Spray Cop

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In his Times column this morning, David Carr wonders about the future of the Occupy Wall Street movement and, specifically, its fate as an ongoing topic of mass-media conversation. “Occupy Wall Street left many all revved up with no place to go,” he writes. Which is a problem, traditional-press-coverage wise, because: “In addition to the…