Crash by David Cronenberg (from J.G. Ballard’s novel)

Critical Legal Thinking recently communicated about a Call for Papers organized by the Melbourne Doctoral Forum on Legal Theory that will have a two days workshop in December. I thought that it would be interesting to have designers participating, thus bringing, in addition of a bit of naivety (!), a different vision on this issue.
The call for papers give some ideas of topic to tackle such as interesting notions like “accidental citizens” for refugees or “accidents of humanity” with the question of transhumanism.

I included a still from Ballard/Cronenberg‘s Crash here, not just as a matter of illustration but rather as an open question for a potential paper that I will try to write. The latter would questions the potential liberation triggered by the accident similar to a collective revolutionary orgasm.
Here is an excerpt from the novel:

Trying to exhaust himself, Vaughan devised a terrifying almanac of imaginary automobile disasters and insane wounds, the lungs of elderly men punctured by door handles, the chests of young women impale by steering columns, the cheeks of handsome youths pierced by the chromium latches of quarter-lights. For him these wounds were the key to a new sexuality born from a perverse technology.
James Graham Ballard. Crash (1973) Picador 2001

The following text is the Call for Paper itself:

The fourth annual workshop will again bring together higher research students and early career researchers, who in different disciplines and across diverse fields of scholarship, engage with law and its theoretical and methodological questions. This year we embark on an investigation of law and its accidents, because to critically engage with legal theory is not only to track the modalities of law, but also to probe its interstices. It is to expose law’s fault-lines and its exceptions, its interruptions and its crises, but also its coincidences and serendipities. This workshop will try not just to prod those fragile points where law buckles and sways, but attempt to build new jurisprudential approaches to understanding the happenstances of law. The accidents of law are neither novel nor exemplary. They often appear  subtly in the narrative of a judgment, the methodologies of legal scholarship and the ceremonies of justice. In law the accident never just happens; it is embedded in the forms and materialities of law.

The catalyst for this workshop is the suggestion that with the invention of any technology, we also invent its accident. From natural selection to environmental catastrophes to outcomes of regulation – common to all are the simultaneous inventions of a technological apparatus and its accident. Yet how do we account for the accidents of law? Is the accident an exception or is it integral to law’s operation? Is law in itself an accident? Is it an accident of justice and/or progress? In a year already exposed to the superlative accident of nuclear catastrophe, this workshop attempts to construct a museum of legal accidents. It provides a collegial forum and supportive intellectual community for exploring the encounters between law and its accidents. We welcome participants from all disciplines who in their own research projects engage with questions of law, theory and methodology.

Relevant areas of law may include (this list is not exhaustive): law and culture, law and technology, law and the humanities, environmental law, employment law, tort law, international law, military law, migration law, and law and economics.

Possible topics may include:
• narrating and archiving law and its accidents
• faulty networks: laws of technology and technologies of law
• governance, sovereignty and its exceptions
• globalisation, virtuality and the crisis of the nation state
• citizenship, refugees and migration: accidental citizens
• collateral damage: legitimatisation of accidental causalities in war
• accidents of humanity: bio-ethics, transhumanism and animal law
• the unforeseen consequences of regulation and reform
• accidental waste: law and economy
• the ruins of progress: accidents of time, history and law
• memory and trauma: forgetting to remember
• the dea(r)th of judgment: destabilising the legal text
• the conviviality of ceremony: law’s laughter

A limited number of bursaries will be available for interstate and international presenting participants who are unable to claim funding to cover the full cost of travel from their home institution. The bursaries are intended to contribute towards travel expenses. Please indicate in your application whether you would like to be considered for a bursary.

Abstracts of a maximum of 500 words and biographies of a maximum of 100 words should be sent to law-mdflt@unimelb.edu.au by Monday 19 September 2011.

Conference Organisers: Jake Goldenfein, Laura Peterson and Marc Trabsky

Our Call for Papers is available as a PDF here.

For more information visit mdflt.law.unimelb.edu.au