Law

Critical Theory Research Cluster

The Critical Theory Research Cluster brings together scholars working in the areas of critical theory, law and society, gender studies and more from within the School of Law, Politics and Sociology and the wider Sussex community of critical scholars.

 Upcoming events:

 

SPR 20/21 Events Programme

Welcome to the schedule of events for SPR 2021 

Critical Literacies 

This term the critical theory research cluster welcomes discussions on the tools we use in our work to respond to our troubled present by asking:  ‘What critical literacies are we trying to develop?’ 

Week 4

DECOLONIZING CRITICAL THEORY

Date: Thursday 18 Feb 2021

Time:12.30-2pm

Gurminder K Bhambra (Prof of Postcolonial & Decolonial Studies, IR, Sussex): 

Decolonizing Critical Theory? Epistemological Justice, Progress, Reparations 

Theorists working within the Frankfurt school tradition of critical theory have not been immune to calls to “decolonize” that have been circulating in and beyond the academic world. This article asks what it means to seek to decolonize a tradition of thought that has never explicitly acknowledged colonial histories. What is needed, instead, this article suggests, is consideration of the very implications of the “colonial modern”—that is, an acknowledgement of the colonial constitution of modernity—for Frankfurt school critical theory’s idea of historical progress. The issue is more extensive than simply acknowledging the substantive neglect of colonialism within the tradition; rather, this article suggests that its categories of critique and their associated normative claims are also necessarily implicated by this neglect and require transformation. Acknowledgment of colonial histories requires material reparations for the substantive inequalities bequeathed as legacies of the past, but these reparations also require a transformation of understandings and a recognition of “epistemological justice.” 

Week 6

AUTHORITY, ADDICTION & LAW’S (DIS)ORDER 

Date: Thursday 4 March 2021

Time: 12.30-2pm

 Viktoria Huegel (University of Brighton) 

On the notion of authority and new authoritarianism  

In the first part of this presentation, I introduce the question and the context that is guiding my PhD research: What is the role of authority in democratic thought? We recently have observed a rise of new authoritarianism(s): practices that undermine democratic institutions in the name of “the people”. However, at which turn does authority turn authoritarian? I argue that by confusing all forms of state intervention as equally violent and destructive, we disregard the fact that the withdrawal from authority might be just as harmful as its abuse. I further take this as an opportunity – following the theme of critical literacies as well as authority – to reflect on my appropriation of Carl Schmitt for this project.

Lucy Finchett-Maddock (Senior Lecturer, SLS)

Creativity in/of the Void: Harnessing Law's Dependence and Destruction

This piece discusses the way addiction is formulated by the practices and tactics of law, to say that law itself is addiction, and addiction is law. Combining desire and destruction through the work of Gilles Deleuze, Kathryn Yusoff and Catherine Malabou, both addiction and law are explored as cumulative processes of material and immaterial yearning emanating from and within thermodynamic movements of order/disorder, destruction/creation and the tightrope of equilibrium known better as entropy, within and outside, human and other bodies. The entropic speed of addiction is described in terms of its capacity to resonate, to compel, impel and repel: it is magnetic, and so too is law. Addiction is described as rule-making, through the funnelling of attention to sediment layers of law as habit, routine and custom through repetition, leading to the ultimate expression of law, that of subjectivity and the crystallisation of form - the institutionalisation of property and the overcoming of uncertainty through control. Addiction is argued as the very extremity, the ultimate meaning, the very motor of legal morphology itself; the striving of life against death, a speculative genesis and the baroque pathways carved in the process.

Week 8

THE NEOLIBERAL AND THE COLONIAL

Date: Thursday 18 March 2021

Time: 12.30-2pm

Joint session with Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, and Sussex Rights and Justice Research Centre 

Louiza Odysseos (Prof of International Relations, Dpt of IR, Sussex):  

Extractive Modes of World-Disclosure and Historical Fungibility: Towards a Critique of Neoliberal Disposability 

 [Abstract and further speaker details to follow

Week 10

CRITICAL THEORY AND SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY – DISCUSSION WITH AUTHOR DARROW SCHECTER 

Date: Thursday 22 April 2021

Time: 12.30-2pm

Darrow Schecter, Critical Theory and Sociological Theory: On Late Modernity and Social Statehood, (MUP, 2019) (Prof Critical Theory and Modern European History, School of Media, Arts & Humanities, Sussex). 

Discussant: Tarik Kochi (Senior Lecturer, SLS) 

Democracy in the twenty-first century faces numerous challenges, with populism, neoliberalism, and globalisation being three of the most pressing. Critical theory and sociological theory explores and addresses these challenges by investigating how the conditions of democratic statehood have been altered at key intervals since 1945. At a time when mediations between citizens and statehood are rapidly changing, it argues that a sociological approach is urgently needed to address conceptual deficits and explain how the formal mechanisms of democratic statehood can be complemented and updated.

All welcome!

Zoom links to the sessions will be emailed to Cluster Members and LPS staff. 

Email: b.sokhi-bulley@sussex.ac.uk if you require a link!  

AUT 20/21 Events Programme

Critical Theory Research Cluster AUT 20-21 Events

Critical Theory in Times of Pandemic

This Autumn, the critical theory research cluster will address thinking and writing in times of pandemic. We are holding three (WiP) workshops and one ‘conversation with the author’ event (Week 8) with contributions from a range of disciplines in both Sussex and Brighton. We invite you to interrogate with us: Why is critical theory important? What transformative practices are enabled? And, who is the public for critical theory? 

All events will take place via Zoom – details to be emailed out to LPS staff + Cluster members (email: b.sokhi-bulley@sussex.ac.uk to be placed on the cluster mailing list), apart from Week 8, which will be a blended session. 

Please share widely, all welcome 

Week 4, Thursday 22 October, 2-3.30pm: PANDEMIC, RACE AND CLASS 

Ben Rogaly (Prof of Human Geography, Geography, Sussex),‘Working Class Unity’ 

Bal Sokhi-Bulley (Senior Lecturer in Law & Critical Theory, LPS) ‘From Exotic to “Dirty”: Pandemic and Recolonisation' 

In this session, the speakers will be in conversation on making calls for ‘unity’ in times of pandemic and protest. They will be speaking to ‘friendship’ and ‘place’ as conceptual and practical tools that enable a response to abandonment, looking at the contexts of local lockdowns (Leicester) and the recent politics of a multi-racial leave-voting city (Peterborough). 

We welcome Ben Rogaly, Professor of Human Geography and author of Stories from a Migrant City (MUP 2020) 

Week 6, Thursday 5 Nov, 2.00-3.30pm: CRITIQUE AND POSTHUMANISM 

Sabrina Gilani, 'What Comes First, the Theory or the Question?' Researching Criminal Law and the Posthuman (Lecturer in Canadian Law, Law, LPS) ... This is a reflection more than a presentation on my research in the area of Criminal Law and the Posthuman.  Through this reflection I think back to the question of what drives critical legal scholarship, the theory or the problem, and invite others to share their own experiences in publishing critical research.

Paul McGuinness 'Robocop (1987) as technosceance: cyborg hauntologies and The Future of Law Enforcement' (Lecturer in Criminology and Sociology, Sociology, LPS) ...Using an ontology of fiction and a cinematically hauntological methodology I position Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop (1987) as a form of ‘technosceance’, by engaging audiences in policing’s technological uncanny, the ghost in an increasingly solutionist machine. By reading Verhoeven’s text with Mark Fisher and Andrew Feenberg, I reclaim Robocop from its reactionary afterlife and rearticulate its subversive dramatization of the dialectical necessities of policing and technology.

 

Week 8: Thursday 19 Nov, 2-3.30: CRITIQUE AND GLOBAL JUSTICE Book Launch 

Tarik Kochi, Global Justice and Social Conflict: The Foundations of Liberal Order and International Law (Routledge, 2019) (Senior Lecturer in Law, LPS) 

Chair: Bal Sokhi-Bulley (Senior Lecturer in Law & Critical Theory, LPS) 

What is Global Justice? How might critical theory today address the problem of a global justice? In this session, Tarik will speak to these questions by introducing his recently published book Global Justice and Social Conflict. We encourage you to respond during the discussion that will follow.

Online Event: Join via Zoom

 

Week 10: Thursday 3 Dec, 2-3.30pm: POLICE AND AFFECT, POLICING AFFECT? 

Melayna Lamb (Tutor in Criminology, LPS), 'Policing the Pandemic'

ABSTRACT: This paper examines the effects of policing public health emergencies as a matter of public order. During the summer, against the background of a global pandemic, we saw an explosion of Black Lives Matter protests occurring in both the US and UK in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Rather than thinking through these issues separately, this paper will analyse the relation between them. I will explore the intimate relationship between ‘public health’ and ‘public order’, arguing that understanding them together allows us to understand ways in which states may intensify their interventions and expand their power with little regard for democratic accountability. What connects them is the question of ‘the public’. With public order the spectre of the ‘disorderly’ is presented as a problem that must be contained and policed against. In public health, disease, ill-health and contagion are also staged as something that needs to be ‘fought’. The thesis here is that disorder and disease have been historically linked not only in terms of who is considered a threat to the order and health of the state, but also that the state performs its assumed necessity for social life by ‘fighting’ disorder and disease. That black people are more likely to die as a result of Covid-19 and are more likely to be the targets of police harassment and violence necessitates an approach that not only shows the link between the two, but asks in whose name the state acts when it claims the ‘public’ as its own.

Swastee Ranjan (PhD Candidate in Law, LPS), 'Law and Affective Aesthetics of Environment'

ABSTRACT: This paper emerges from my ongoing PhD thesis which discusses the relationship between objects found on the surface of the city such as streetlights, and law. While legal theory has discussed the role of object, rarely has it depended on the excavation of such physical objects to explore dimensions of law. Objects such as the streetlights appear in the regulatory assemblages of the city, but they are represented as inert, passive, recipients of formal laws. In my work, I challenge this representation of objects, to argue that not only are they dynamic and vital elements of the urban environment, but they are also sources of law. Drawing on the new materialist and speculative realist philosophies, I argue that law is affective since it both directs the movements of bodies and is also, shaped by them. In the present paper, I share an account of walking in Delhi at midnight to illustrate how these objects constitute law and alter perceptions of urban environment, which appears as more vibrant, than a mere background, condition for urban existence. I discuss how such an account can help in extending the dimensions of environmental law and contribute to its varied understanding. 

Previous Events

Our exciting SPR 19/20 programme on 'What is Critique Today' was postponed due to Coronavirus. See our current AUT 20/21 events for a revised programme on 'Critique in Times on Pandemic'.  

In December 2018, the Cluster hosted Professor Elden for a lecture on 'Foucault before the History of Madness: lectures, translations, Nietzsche' 

 A recording of the talk is available here

This lecture reports on a project tracing the intellectual history of the early Foucault. It focuses on his largely unknown work in the 1950s. In particular it discusses three themes. First, Foucault’s early teaching in Lille at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Three main courses are preserved – on ‘Phenomenology and Binswanger’, ‘Knowledge of Man and Transcendental Reflection’ and ‘Phenomenology and Psychology’. These link in important ways to work Foucault would go on to publish, but also outline paths not pursued. Second his role as a co-translator of two texts – Ludwig Binswanger’s ‘Traum und Existenz’ and Viktor von Weizsäcker’s Der Gestaltkreis. His role is bringing these Swiss and German works into French is underappreciated. The introduction to Binswanger is quite well known, but his role in the translation itself – which was credited to Jacqueline Verdeaux alone – is underexplored. His co-translation of von Weizsâcker, with Daniel Rocher, is sometimes referenced but underexamined. There is an important, and disturbing, political context to this work. Finally the lecture will discuss Foucault’s reading of Friedrich Nietzsche in the 1950s, questioning some of the accepted chronologies and interpretations.


Stuart Elden is Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick, UK. He is the author of books on territory, Michel Foucault, Martin Heidegger, and Henri Lefebvre. His most recent book is Shakespearea Territories (University of Chicago Press, 2018).

 Stuart Elden Lecture Poster

 

Stuart Elden’s The Birth of Power (Polity Press, 2017)

Stuart Elden Book cover

The Birth of Power meticulously traces what Elden calls Foucault's 'political awakening' - as a writer, researcher, lecturer, and activist - in the period between the Archaeology of Knowledge and Discipline and Punish and serves as a prequel to Elden's work, Foucault's Last Decade. In this group we consider what it means to think of Foucault as a political writer, researcher, lecturer and activist; what constitutes this ‘political awakening’; and what Elden’s ‘genealogy’ of Foucault’s thought between AoK and D&P might add to thinking in, on and with Foucault.
 The Cluster hosted Professor Elden for a stimulating discussion on these themes and the process of writing.

  

Director: Tarik Kochi and Bal Sokhi-Bulley

Critical Theory Research Cluster Members

David Berry

Kimberley Brayson

Amy Clarke

Jane Cowan

Thomas Ebbs

Sabrina Gilani

Tarik Kochi

Melayna Lamb

Darcy Leigh

Paul McGuinness

Chistina Miliou

Jack O'Connor

Louiza Odysseos

Moss A.G. Ramberg

Swastee Ranjan

Jake Rubin

Caio Rubini

Bal Sokhi-Bulley

Darrow Schecter

Kathryn Telling

Dean Wilson

Elle Whitcroft

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'Law and Affective Aesthetics of Environment' 

Lucy Finchett-Maddock (Senior Lecturer, SLS)

Creativity in/of the Void: Harnessing Law's Dependence and Destruction

This piece discusses the way addiction is formulated by the practices and tactics of law, to say that law itself is addiction, and addiction is law. Combining desire and destruction through the work of Gilles Deleuze, Kathryn Yusoff and Catherine Malabou, both addiction and law are explored as cumulative processes of material and immaterial yearning emanating from and within thermodynamic movements of order/disorder, destruction/creation and the tightrope of equilibrium known better as entropy, within and outside, human and other bodies. The entropic speed of addiction is described in terms of its capacity to resonate, to compel, impel and repel: it is magnetic, and so too is law. Addiction is described as rule-making, through the funnelling of attention to sediment layers of law as habit, routine and custom through repetition, leading to the ultimate expression of law, that of subjectivity and the crystallisation of form - the institutionalisation of property and the overcoming of uncertainty through control. Addiction is argued as the very extremity, the ultimate meaning, the very motor of legal morphology itself; the striving of life against death, a speculative genesis and the baroque pathways carved in the process.