Here’s a sample of the publications generated by the LLHAA community this year:

Cassandra Sharp, “Justice with a Vengeance: Retributive Desire in Popular Imagination” in M. Asimow & K. Brown eds, Law and Popular Culture: International Perspectives (2014) 153-176.

The punishment of criminal behaviour has always been a hot topic in popular culture. Whether in fictional crime dramas or in mainstream news coverage, issues of law, justice, and punishment are constantly being refracted and reframed in a myriad of ways. We seem to like watching criminals not only being caught but also receiving the punishment they deserve. We love it when Sherlock Holmes or Patrick Jayne solves the crime on fictional television, and too often we hear stories in the media of a victim’s family that is indignant and angry that the perpetrator is seemingly “getting away” with a light sentence. We seem to have such a desire for justice to be done that we cry out for it when it seems lacking. This cry for justice, I argue, comes from a desire to hold individuals responsible for their actions, and it is the major reason for a contemporary suggestion in Australia that the criminal justice system is experiencing a “crisis of confidence.”

Kieran Tranter, “The Car as Avatar in Australian Social Security Decisions” (2014) 27(4) International Journal for the Semiotics of Law

This paper draws upon automobile semiotics and legal semiotics to argue that the car in Australian social security decisions becomes an avatar for the applicant that is then decoded into meaning streams concerning deservingness and prudence. It is suggested that this has two implications. The first it highlights the techniques where by a technical object (the car) and the ‘life’ of the applicant became bridged in law; and through that bridging life becomes ‘formatted.’ The second highlights the extent of automobile culture. The car has meaning beyond the highways and parking lots. The paper shows how these meanings have become integrated into processes of biopolitical governance.

Mitchell Travis and Kieran Tranter ‘Interrogating Absence: The Lawyer in Science Fiction’ (2014) International Journal of the Legal Profession

Kylie Doyle and Kieran Tranter ‘Automobility and “My Family” Stickers’ (2014) Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies

Emma Wagstaff and Kieran Tranter ‘Taking Facebook at Face Value: The Refugee Review Tribunal’s Use of Social Media Evidence (2014) 21(3) Australian Journal of Administrative Law 172-186.

Desmond Manderson, “Like men possessed: what are illicit drug laws really for?The Conversation 3 November 2014

Nadia Gush, “Fraternal Fracture and the Court of Law: New Zealand’s 1954 Parker-Hulme Trial” (2014) 26(3) Law and Literature

In New Zealand in 1954 two teenage girls, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, conspired to commit matricide. The trial that followed positioned the accused as Jacques Derrida’s epitome of friendship. As such Parker and Hulme became the specter of a teenage fraternity fracturing the normative polis, a specter to be managed discursively within the courtroom. Drawing on Derrida’s Politics of Friendship, this article contends that the court of law was integral to the management of the threat posed by adolescent fraternity to the normative polis at this time. Discursive strategies of speech, isolation, age, and gender worked to dissolve the teenage fraternity that Parker and Hulme presented.

Alison Young, “Cities in the City: Street Art, Enchantment, and the Urban Commons” (2014) 26(2) Law and Literature

Cities are sites of cultural and aesthetic production engaged in a continual process through which human subjects refine the images of the spaces in which everyday life takes place. Dominant approaches to legal governance in the city construct it as a “legislated city” or “lawscape,” but this is not the only manner in which the city can be conceptualized and experienced. A number of artistic, social, and literary interventions suggest the possibility of “uncommissioned” cities existing in tandem with the conventionally legislated city. This article examines the conceptualization of the city underlying the novel The City & the City (2009), by China Miéville, and a number of artists who situate their artworks in urban space. The experience of viewing illicit images, whether experienced by the spectator as delightful or distressing, is one of “enchantment,” to draw upon Jane Bennett’s sense of the term. The enchanting encounter with an illicit image reveals the existence of uncommissioned cities within the legislated one, and points to alternative conceptualizations of citizenship, property, and of cities themselves.

Katherine Biber and Trish Luker, eds. Australian Feminist Law Journal Special Issue: Evidence and the Archive: Ethics, Aesthetics and Emotion

The contributions to this special issue of Australian Feminist Law Journal demonstrate the rich scholarship, and potential, in thinking about evidence and the archive. By treating legal sources as a literal archive, contributors have engaged with questions about access, use, and interpretation of archival materials. They have focused closely on aspects of evidence, sources, records, documents, and data, to investigate legal materials in all of their complexity and diversity. In doing so, contributors have brought into legal scholarship some of the contemporary theoretical approaches to thinking archivally, in which processes of questioning, abstracting, and counter-archival imaginings are evident. Contributors have also turned their inquiry towards the ethical, aesthetic, and emotional aspects of archives, and the demands that law’s materials make upon scholars to exercise care and judgment. Our aspiration for this special issue is that it inaugurates ongoing inquiry into the stakes, risks, and opportunities in exploring law’s archive and re-examining law’s evidence.

Honni van Rijswijk, “Archiving the Northern Territory Intervention in Law and in the Literary Counter-Imaginary,” Australian Feminist Law Journal 40(1), 117-133

This article focuses on a figure archived in contemporary Australian law, a figure who is central to the state’s control of Aboriginal people. This figure, like her counterparts in earlier historical periods, is to be found in legislation and in case law, and in law’s supplementary genres, including welfare and indigenous policy, and Parliamentary second-reading speeches. This figure is the ‘abused Aboriginal child’, and she has been significant to the production of myths of the Australian nation-state, and to the rule of law. She is being used to justify the continued administration of Aboriginal communities, through simultaneously the continuing suspension of the rule of law and the violent instrumentalisation of law. This article examines the archive of the Northern Territory Intervention and subsequent Stronger Futures legislation, investigating the ways in which law’s violence masquerades as law’s care. I seek to explore the ways in which reading law as an archive opens up the possibility of a counter-archival practice that interrupts and disorients law’s claim to violent jurisdiction over Aboriginal people. The emphasis here is on reading law as archive — on taking up a position of readerly responsibility with respect to the practices of representation that constitute law’s archive, and on constructing counter-archival practices and imaginaries that resist and re-situate law’s authority. By way of example, I examine Alexis Wright’s most recent novel, The Swan Book (2013), which is read as an exemplary counter-archival text that interrupts law’s archival practices and claims.

Juliet Rogers, Law’s Cut on the Body of Human Rights: Female Circumcision, Torture and Sacred Flesh (Routledge 2014)

Scenes of violence and incisions into the flesh inform the demand for law. The scene of little girls being held down in practices of female circumcision has been a defining and definitive image that demands the attention of human rights, and the intervention of law. But the investment in protecting women and little girls from such a cut is not all that it seems. Law’s Cut on the Body of Human Rights: Female Circumcision, Torture and Sacred Flesh considers how such images come to inform law and the investment of advocates of law in an imagination of this scene. Drawing on psychoanalytic and postcolonial theory, and accompanying ideas in political theology, Juliet Rogers examines the language, imagery and excitement that accompanies recent initiatives to legislate against what is called ‘female genital mutilation’. The author compliments this examination with a consideration of the scene of torture exposed in images from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Rogers argues that the modes of fascination and excitement that accompany scenes of torture and female circumcision betray the fantasy of a political condition against which the subject of liberal law is imagined; this is subjectivity in a state of non-mutilation, non-prohibition or, in a psychoanalytic idiom, non-castration. To support the fantasy of this subject, the mutilated subject, the authors suggests, is rendered as flesh cut from the democratic nation state, deserving of only selective human rights, or none at all.

Peter Rush and Olivera Simic, eds. The Arts of Transitional Justice: Culture, Activism and Memory After Atrocity Springer 2014

The re-assessment of transitional justice as both an institutional craft and a system of knowledge has been ongoing for sometime now. The Arts of Transitional Justice: Culture, Activism and Memory After Atrocity contributes to this revaluation by focusing on the prevalence of art and aesthetic practices in the various domains and institutions of transitional justice.  Interdisciplinary in approach, this volume provides personal and intellectual contributions by literary and cultural critics, legal scholars, artists and activists as well as policy experts. It ranges across theatre, public art installations, literary fiction and public protest, poems and film, photography, museums, monuments and body art. How are these cultural performances used in the practices of transitional justice? What can and do they tell us about the discourses of transitional justice, and their representations of the cultural and social transformations of post-conflict societies? How do they provide provide a forum and idiom through which survivors of atrocity can have their voices heard, can tell their story, as well as evaluate and reflect on the transitional justice mechanisms in their society?

This volume seeks to understand the significant and plural role that artists, works of art and more broadly aesthetic performances have played in societies in transition. Among the topics covered are:

  • Cultural intervention and the imagination of peace and transition
  • Education, photography and fictional narratives after Genocide
  • Memory, performance and trauma
  • Public protest, public art and cities in transformation
  • The role of theatre in healing in Afghanistan, Serbia and beyond
  • Diasporic communities and the artefacts of lives recalled
  • The reception of artworks by survivors of atrocity
  • The dilemmas of transitional justice scholarship and the feeling for justice

With its global and detailed case studies approach, The Arts of Transitional Justice is a significant resource for those interested in the role of the arts in responding to the multidimensional legacies of atrocity as well as those interested in the transformation of transitional justice. In coming to terms with the past and setting the terms and conditions of a different future, it engages the plural idioms of accountability and responsibility, memory and trauma, justice and the rhetoric of transition after atrocity.