The full list of articles follows.
17 November 2014
NEW ISSUE ANNOUNCEMENT: Law and Humanities Vol. 8, n.2, 2014
The full list of articles follows.
Warring Sovereigns and Mimetic Rivals: On Scapegoats and Political Crisis in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
Abstract: My paper argues for the relevance of the French literary critic Rene Girard to contemporary critical legal theory. In order to prove my thesis, I undertake a ‘dual’ reading of a foundational text from the field of Law and Literature—William Golding’s Lord of the Flies—by subjecting it to both a Hobbesian and Girardian interpretation. The relevance of Thomas Hobbes to the novel is obvious—the ‘constitutional crisis’ faced by the Boys is an allegorical re-enactment of Hobbes’ famous division between the Commonwealth-by-Institution (represented by Ralph and Piggy) and the Commonwealth-by-Acquisition (represented by Jack and Roger). What is less obvious is the manner in which the struggle over the political order of the island strictly parallels a sub-textual mimetic rivalry between the two boy-sovereigns, Ralph and Jack. Employing Girard’s as a supplementary reading to Hobbes’, a much more challenging interpretation of the novel may be offered: the mimetic rivalry between the two Boys replicates the mimetic dynamic between the competing forms government that they symbolize, subverting any absolute distinction between liberal and dictatorial forms of the State. The narrative core of the novel is a ‘double story arc’: the movement from the representational theory of language (Hobbes) to the anti-representational theory of substitution (Girard) and the movement from Social Contract (the conch) to the sacrificial mechanism (the scapegoat).
The Law of Dress in Lord of the Flies
Abstract: On the 60th anniversary of the publication of William Golding’s Lord of The Flies, Gary Watt reads the novel in terms of the natures of dress and law as near neighbours (perhaps even structurally identical partners) in the scheme of social norms. Instead of reading the boys’ story in terms of descent from clothing to nakedness, Watt reads it in terms of the constancy of dress. The form of the dress changes from clothes to painted masks, but the fundamental fact of dress remains. The boys’ relationship to rules can be read in a similar way. Instead of reading their story in terms of descent from law and order to lawlessness and disorder, it is read in terms of the ongoing presence of rules of some sort. Watt argues that, through the enduring presence and performative power of dress and law in the novel, Golding is warning us that we should suspect all external indicators of civilisation of being hollow; that we should be cynical about all systems of norms established by society and look, instead, to be saved by individual insight and self-sacrifice.
The Shaping and Misshaping of Identity through Legal Practice and Process: (Re)discovering Mr Kernott
Abstract: The focus of this paper is the construction of identity within the context of English legal practice and process. Its subject matter is the protracted civil litigation that extended from a brief County Court hearing in 2007 to the Supreme Court judgment of Jones v Kernott  UKSC 53. Taking as its theoretical basis recent work by Hilde Lindemann, Holding and Letting Go: The Social Practice of Personal identities (Oxford University Press, 2014) the author analyses the reported judgments of the appellate courts, as well as a recently recorded first hand narrative account of Mr Kernott, as a means to examining how far long-established legal practices and customs can operate to construct, hold and let go of personal identity.
Law, Narrative, and Politics in a Jewish Key: Hannah Arendt and Robert M Cover in Comparative Perspective
Abstract: From a pluralistic perspective, Hannah Arendt and Robert Cover developed sharp critiques of sovereign-centred legal-political orders. This essay argues that their critiques and pluralistic counter-models reflect not only the Jewish experience of diaspora, exile and genocide, but also the different vantage points from which they perceived this experience. The essay compares their interpretive approaches to courts, law, narrative, politics, and tradition to assess the important ways they converged with and diverged from one another.
Struggle Music: South African Politics in Song
Andra le Roux-Kemp
Abstract: Music, and especially singing, plays a central role in African cultures. Songs and rhythm have been described as ‘a truly African way of communication’ and it is therefore not surprising that music has played, and continues to play, an important role in African politics. This article will consider the important role that struggle music - also known as freedom songs – played in South Africa during the apartheid years and the struggle for liberation, and how it continues to play an important role in contemporary South African politics. First, the genre of struggle music will be circumscribed and differentiated from other politically motivated music. Then the discussion will turn to the struggle music of South Africa during the apartheid years, and how it is still being utilised in politics today. With regard to the contemporary use of struggle music in South African politics, the discussion will focus on the controversial struggle song Dubulu’ iBhunu and the decision of the South African Equality Court in Afriforum & another v Malema and another (Vereniging van Regslui vir Afrikaans as Amicus Curiae) 2011 (12) BCLR 1289 (EQC) prohibiting the singing of the song in public and declaring its lyrics to be hate speech.
Abstract: Knowing how to identify someone’s murderer, how to distinguish a credible witness, whether one is being betrayed, or try to avoid being exposed, are questions that compel the main characters in Hamlet. This essay explains The Murder of Gonzago and the duel scene having in mind formal judicial procedures with which a criminal’s guilt is uncovered. It argues that Hamlet’s dumb show may be compared to a technical truth test such as that effected by the presentation of torture objects before the procedure takes place. The duel scene should also be read having in mind judicial methods such as the medieval ordeal. Though Hamlet’s mousetrap and the duel may be perceived as symmetrical revenge plots, the swordfight has a cryptic nature. The duel seems, thus, to serve the purpose of describing contradictory views on justice and on divine providence, purposefully failing to provide the audience to an answer for the question: “Who’s there?” (I, I, 1).
Humanity beyond Rights: Proximity as a Normative Principle
Abstract: The question of human rights lies beyond formal rules and official political structures. It is also a question of mentality and awareness; it depends on how seriously civil society takes the humanity of every person. To capture these implications, it is not sufficient to invoke ‘hard’ institutional frameworks, such as the constitutional order, administration and economy. We need to pay attention to ‘soft’ human factors: trust, loyalties, interpersonal bonds, cultural codes affecting human conduct. This is why cinema offers an interesting point of view to address the question. Focusing on The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005) a film by Romanian director Cristi Puiu, this paper interprets it and its literary sources through the philosophical category of ‘neighbour’. The aim is to look for what this concept can tell us, in both a moral and legal sense, about human beings and their dignity, beyond the limits of rights discourse.
A Review of Peter Goodrich, Legal Emblems and the Art of Law: Obiter Depicta as the Vision of Governance