Friday, February 05, 2010

Cfp: "Great Expectations: Multiple Modernities of Law," Annual Critical Legal Conference, University of Utrecht, September 10-12, 2010.

Social developments demand, now more than ever, a critical perspective on law and legal scholarship. These developments relate to the financial and economic crisis, the conti­nuing humanitarian wars, the rising intolerance towards others and the perceived threat they pose. They can be captured in the notions of multidimensio­nal globali­sation and enforced individualisation. The former pertains to global society, trans­cending the nation-state, whereas the latter pertains to a wide range of decisions one must make about many aspects of individual life. Both notions contri­bute to and reflect an ever-increasing societal complexity with which we deal in many different ways and law is one of these ways. Fundamental is how law is used to deal with complexity. The ongoing discussion about human rights is illustrative in this regard. A critical legal perspective is required to expose “normative abuse” of law. The main theme of this conference is to re-affirm, in our global age, this critical pers­pective on law and its relationship with politics. Indeed, the conference re-affirms the critical political condition we are in as scholars. To conceptualise this condition is to take issue with the concept of moder­nity. The question is whether to speak of a single modernity (be it a reflexive moderni­ty, a liquid modernity, a second modernity, a post-modernity, etc.) or whether we should consider the possibility of what Eisenstadt terms “multiple modernities”. If so, what does this concept pertains to? Does it help us in understanding and criti­cising modern law and legal scholarship and their manifestations in different legal systems? Furthermore, does it help us in understanding and dealing with (global) contemporary problems from the perspective of human rights as a manifestation of global law, penetrating legal systems around the world? A critical attitude, hence, is not merely directed at others, as in submitting other modernities (and their legal systems) to the test of Western modernity and law. Rather, it also, or perhaps, in particular, expects an attitude of self-criticism, i.e. a reflexive attitu­de. The main theme touches, in this way, on many different issues pertaining to law and society, comparative legal studies, law and culture, concepts of positive law, the administration of law and its organisation. It also raises questions of methodology as it crosses disciplinary boundaries. The opening address will be given by Prof. Gunther Teubner. Prof Teubner is Professor of Private Law and Legal Sociology, Principal Investigator, Excellence Cluster "The Formation of Normative Orders", Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main and Centennial Visiting Professor, London School of Economics. Visit the conference webpage here:

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