Aesthetics and International Law

Thinking about the aesthetics of law is a means to foreground questions on law’s space, law’s language, law’s signs, law’s images.

Following Jacques Rancière, we understand aesthetics as the formalisation of experience; a frame for common sense. Common sense is a social relation between sense/experience and meaning. Understanding aesthetics in this light means understanding aesthetics as a political act. In his book, Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord argues that late capitalism has given rise to a society which is one mediated through imagery. The spectacle is not just a collection of images, but a social relationship, something which itself orders society. In this project, we aim to make this politics explicit by thinking about the interests served through the dominant aesthetic.

The project ‘The Aesthetics and Counter-Aesthetics of International Law’ is inherently collaborative. Participants include academics from various disciplines and artists using the medium of poetry, cartoon, photography, film, and painting. The project was initiated by Dr Christine Schwöbel-Patel and Dr Robert Knox, who are Directors of the Critical Approaches to International Criminal Law research cluster at the University of Liverpool.

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