Synesthesia of Law—An International and Trans-Disciplinary Conference
Nofar Sheffi, Sciences Po Law School, Patricia J. Williams, Columbia University, and Bradley McCallum, Artist and Activist
September 29, 2016 · 5:00 pm—7:00 pm ·
Princeton University, Sciences Po (Paris)
What is the role of law in structuring, orienting and perpetuating the multiplicity of conflicts that shape our public and private life?
What function does law play in structuring and orienting the ethical dimensions of the multiplicity of conflicts that shape our public and private life? How, if at all, might law serve to relieve and mitigate them? These are the overarching questions addressed by this new collaboration between Princeton University and Sciences Po Law School.
As the first of what we hope will be a series of annual gatherings to be held alternately in Princeton and Paris, this event will draw upon recent innovative work by scholars from various academic fields, and will be organized around a self-consciously provocative reconceptualization of law as a multi-sensual, perceptual process or experience of sense-making. Considered from this perspective, law is conceived not as a textual product of a reasoned “black-letter” decision, a ‘pure’ system of abstract norms, or an ‘unaffected’ institution of justice, but as a material and sensorial phenomenon or process that speaks, touches, sees, smells and tastes, and is simultaneously heard, seen, felt, tasted and smelled.
The shift in focus to these long-ignored but important facets of the juridical is an important political statement about not only the presence of law in the seemingly most intimate moments and areas of life but also of law’s role in shaping and structuring the way we experience, sense, and make ‘sense’ of these.
By challenging the underpinnings and limits of our longstanding notions of the juridical, and by drawing attention to the existence of many unrecognized ‘fora’ of law-making –the street, the classroom, and the rainforest– the conference aims to suggest not only an alternative way of knowing, thinking, and ‘practicing’ law, but also the availability of a multiplicity of undertheorized channels for legal/political action. In so doing, we hope to open new ways to respond to current political, juridical and socio-cultural conflicts – conflicts that, much like law, transcend and transgress social, cultural, institutional, geographical, material and sensorial boundaries.
The conference will bring together the geographically- and disciplinary-dispersed community of established and new voices in critical (legal) studies — scholars, artists and activists– to exchange and collaborate in the development of a new critical discourse, as well as to build stronger links between the study of law and other fields (including political theory, history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, economic theory, literature, linguistics, gender studies, critical race theory, performativity studies, and media theory).