UCB Townsend Working Group on Law & Contemporary Theory presents:





10 - 12: Colloquium

Material Compositions of Legality:

Executive Orders through the Lenses of Text, Media and Bodies.

Conveners: Hyo Yoon Kang and Sara Kendall, Kent Law School

This colloquium examines the legal materiality of Trump=s recent executive orders on immigration. If the usual approach is to ask if these orders are "proper law," the line of inquiry pursued here suggests that not all of the important factors that go into a legal event are recognisable as a matter of and for law.

Issues ranging from the lack of formal legal training of one of the order=s main drafters to the subsequent "guidance" issued by White House counsel restricting the ban=s application complicate and illuminate the nature of law making. Doctrinal legal analysis would consider only the constitutional basis of the order and track its interpretation by the judiciary.

Thinking about legal materiality, by contrast, examines the order within a broader assemblage of agency: from the inscription of the president=s signature and his performance of displaying the text itself to the public, to its dissemination through and contestation over Twitter, to the legal uptake of social media utterances. The order appears as an entwined and heavily mediated event. The effects are multiple and material: from the act of sovereign inscription to its grave biopolitical effects of dividing and disenfranchising the populations that it targets.

Participants: Mark Antaki, Mario Biagioli, Marianne Constable, Maria Drakopoulou, James Martel, Genevieve Painter, Connal Parsley, Karl Shoemaker, Jill Stauffer

12 - 2 : LUNCH (on your own)


2 - 5: Workshop Papers*

Welcome (and closing):

James Martel, San Francisco State

Karl Shoemaker, University of Wisconsin

2:15 - 3:15

Playing with Beliefs: When the State Comes between Religion, Property and Sex

Davina Cooper, University of Kent

Commentator/Moderator: Sean Becker, UCB

Given the conventional association of states with rationality, gravity, instrumental action and painful, oppressive, coercive activity, can there be any place within a critical progressive politics for states to be playful and to play? Is play a good register for governing?This paper addresses these questions through the context of state-engaged play in relation to the institutionalisation of “possessive beliefs,” a neo/liberal paradigm which treats social identities, in general, and the beliefs associated with particular identities, in particular, as “belonging” in property-like ways to those who hold them.

3:15 - 3:45: Coffee Break (provided)

3: 45 - 4:45

Jacques Rancière and the Dramaturgy of Law

JulenEtxabe, Docent in Legal Theory and Researcher, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

Commentator/Moderator:Kavitha Iyengar, UCB

This essay recreates a Rancierian landscape to elaborate a theatrical model of law. The analysis focuses on jurisgenetic moments of dissensus, when those who are in principle without a place in the order of legalism are nevertheless able to stage a disagreement that reconfigures the entire realm of law. The paper thus investigates how a claim perceived to be legally irrelevant can nevertheless be heard and registered as a novel legal inscription.


*For copies of papers, please go to Law & Contemporary Theory website ( contact or .