Law and the Inhuman

09 May to 10 May

Coordinators: Kathleen Birrell (La Trobe Law School), Afshin Akhtar-Khavari (Queensland University of Technology (QUT)), Julia Dehm (La Trobe Law School), Marie Petersmann (London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE))

Description of the meeting

The central questions of this workshop are increasingly urgent, due to profound changes in relationships between society, nature and technology.

Workshop participants will be emerging and experienced socio-legal scholars from a variety of geographical locations, who are invited to share new research and engage in scholarly conversation focused on four sub-questions:

  1. How can we develop methodological tools to enable better empirical investigations of how law interacts with and shapes more-than-human societies? That is, how can the conceptual toolkit utilised by legal scholarship be expanded to properly account for nonhuman actants and forms of agency?
  2. How can we rethink the categories of ‘law’, ‘human’, ‘nonhuman’ and ‘society’ themselves, to properly explore the interactions between law and the agency and/or normativity of nonhumans, including biological, geological, technological and infrastructural entities?
  3. What role does law play in upholding an anthropocentric understanding of societies and practices of legal ordering, in which humans are cast as active subjects and nonhumans as passive objects of legal relations? What concepts, practices and sensitivities of law need to be de- and re-constitutionalised to resist narrow anthropocentric understandings of human societies and practices of legal ordering?
  4. What role should law play in reconfiguring societies as more-than-human collectives or polities? How and to what extent should practices of legal ordering register, make sense of, and account for nonhuman agency and normativity? The objective here is to move beyond the now more established ‘rights of nature’ discourse and explore new legal frameworks and trajectories.

This workshop will also benefit from and contribute to existing collaborations fostered by the organisers. Notably, this includes the project ‘Constitutionalizing in the Anthropocene’ (CitA), hosted at Tilburg Law School, with which organiser, Dr Marie-Catherine Petersmann is affiliated. This project is dedicated to building bridges between lawyers and political theory, ecological philosophy, Science & Technology Studies and the arts, with the purpose of exploring how (legal) relations between humans and nonhumans can be reconfigured in ways that make sense of the Anthropocene. The proposed Oñati workshop on Law and More-than-human Societies would directly speak to the project and its community (and vice-versa). In addition, this workshop will consolidate initial meetings and discussions between the organisers and other participants in three panels convened by the organisers at the forthcoming Law & Society Association (LSA) Annual Meeting in Puerto Rico, June 2023.


For more information: 

Workshop Coordination Team

Avenida de la Universidad, 8
Apartado 28
20560 Oñati (Gipuzkoa) - Spain
T: +34 943 78... Ver teléfono