Thursday, 31 May 2007

Critial Legal (not Lawyers) Conference

The Critical Legal Conference celebrates its 24th happening in London at the Law School , Birkbeck College , with a conference that tackles the theme of 'Walls' in an aim to renew and challenge our understanding of the structures, process, barriers and limits that bar possibilities. Below you will find our call for papers that invites your participation in this venture. The conference takes place on 14-16 September 2007. Further details may be found at our website

'We have a maxim in the House of Commons, and written on the walls of our houses, that old ways are the safest and surest ways.' - Chief Justice Edward Coke

The early stages of the 21st century feature an increasing deployment of the structures of separation. Walls manifest themselves in a plethora of discourses, places and aspects of life, in both material and figural constellations: the niqab and the face, the Palestinian/Israeli and the US/Mexico Wall, the North-South divide, immigration and integration, democracy and totalitarianism, ideology and religion, detention centres and the law, and even divisions within the critical study of law itself.

'Walls' are some of the most active of objects. In either their physical or figural manifestations, they do obvious things: they create an inside and an outside, they divide internally and externally, they bring together populations and shred them apart, they demand unity and exclusion, they provide security and become the symbols of resistance, they produce discourse and inequalities, death and a life that resembles it. To be precise walls play an active role in the destruction and the government of life. But what most surprises us is their silent participation, through well sedimented emotions and knowledges of ourselves and the world, which blocks our view and limits our horizons of visibility and possibility. Walls may feed our fears and anxieties, but also may propel us to move beyond them, to look over the conditions that limit our thought, action and imagination - in fact, walls demand thought, action and imagination, they demand that we think of them as active objects. Walls may become the very materiality of creativity, releasing into our world different outlooks and possibilities: Dostoyevsky wrote The Priest and the Devil on his prison walls; The Sex Pistols single Holidays in the Sun demanded “go over the Berlin Wall” publicising the division of a city; or Banksy, who appropriates public walls though his (political) graffiti.

The Critical Legal Conference invites us to participate in re-thinking and re-imagining Walls, along with the material conditions that contribute to their construction and active/silent participation in dividing worlds, views and populations. This is not necessarily a call to tear down the Walls (perhaps they can serve a valid purpose strategically), rather it is a call to think which ramparts are worth defending, and which should be allowed to fall? And beyond such militaristic tropes this is a call to think the regeneration of some of their more productive and radical effects, to think the possibility of Walls and the possibilities beyond them.

We welcome papers and participation from students and academics that work in the fields of social theory and the humanities, socio-legal and critical legal studies, activists and people from the arts.

Please submit papers to stream leaders (email addresses available on from, please follow links to the stream you are interested in), or email the committee at

The Call for Papers closes on Friday the 13th of July 2007.


CLC Committee 2007

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