CALL FOR PAPERS
23rd International Roundtables for the Semiotics of Law – IRSL 2023
24-27 May 2023 – Roma (Italy)
Organizer: Mario Ricca
Hosted by Pontificia Università Antonianum
Via Merulana, 124 – Roma
Auditorium Antonianum, Viale Manzoni, 1 – Roma
IRSL President: Anne Wagner
Global Semiotics and Everyday Legal Claims
Intercultural Use of Law, Interreligious Dialogue and Translation Ethics
Postponement notice due to COVID-19
In view of the prolonged effects of the pandemic, we have decided for security reasons to postpone the 23rd IRSL initially
planned for May 27-29, 2021 to the new date of May 24-27, 2023, so as to be able to host all participants in Rome and
make possible face-to-face encounters. We will take advantage of the postponement to enrich the call by adding a
number of sub-calls. We also strongly encourage the submission of workshop proposals. Our aim is to organize a series
of webinars in May 2023 featuring the presentation of papers that we hope will pave the way for a genuine
interdisciplinary dialogue among participants from different research areas and disciplines during the conference. To
achieve this hybrid and diachronic conference plan, we will set up a web page with links to the sub-calls and the
webinars to be organized.
The relationship between legal rules and the spaces where they become effective is gradually morphing. This change is
precipitated by semantic or cognitive—rather than exclusively political— circumstances. The meaning of legal rules is
continually challenged by the transformation of their spatial projections and their cultural coordinates. Law can no longer
assume that discrete spatial circuits and particular cultural backgrounds coincide. Conversely, each territorial frame,
sometimes even those that are most distant from metropolitan areas, can function (at least potentially) as a hub of
innumerous threads of actions and interests. All these connections impinge on the significance of legal rules and, especially,
the prognosis for their effectiveness. The daily life of law is affected by this spatial-semantic turmoil.
The present law’s dynamic involves the conflation of different spatial and semantic frames merging reciprocal ‘elsewheres’
and giving social phenomena and the consequences of their legal regulation a kind of ubiquity—at least in potential terms.
This means that the understanding of what is ‘here’ and ‘now’ should be unmoored from any reification or thinghood
attached to empirical events, objects, situations, etc. On the contrary, to grasp the ‘real’ phenomenality of
events/objects/situations, namely what they are, and the consequences of the application of one legal rule rather than
another, each of these should be considered as a sign. A semiotic gaze allows for the remolding of the meaningful
connections underlying what we call ‘things’ and ‘events’ so that they might be readjusted to align with the new scale of
spatial implications between the multi-sited and worldwide determinants of what happens and is evaluated in each ‘here.’
The interpenetrations between multiple ‘elsewheres’ call for a global semiotic understanding that makes the legal interpreter
(and even the lawmakers) cognizant of the semantic and spatial web underlying any ‘fact’ to be ruled. The ability to grasp
the threads of meaning comprising what is perceived as a ‘fact’ is also a prerequisite to envisaging the consequences of the
application of each legal rule as well as the legitimacy of such application with regard to its axiological and teleological
All this implies an effort to translate the ‘other’ spaces of experience implied in the understanding of the ‘present facts’ to
be ruled, followed by an intercultural translation between the different circuits of experience this understanding involves.
Furthermore, insofar as culture enshrines the anthropological and historical projections of religious horizons of meaning,
any attempt to give course to intercultural translations implies and intersects with the promotion of interreligious dialogue.
The anthropological schemas rooted in religious imageries, on the other hand, mold even the secularized spaces of
experiences and the related categorical schemas that people use to define them. Spatial and semantic Otherness, from this
point of view, is therefore to be translated as an ingredient already involved in the production of the present and daily
experience of people. In this sense and beyond any identitarian reification of culture, the ability to realize the semantic and
pragmatic closeness of what is physically remote can be consistently enhanced by engaging with experiential elements as
signs able to be reconfigured/aggregated in new categorical frames.
The aim of the conference is to bring together semioticians, anthropologists, geographers, law theorists and legal
practitioners (experts in civil law, business law, family law, international law, legal anthropology, etc.) to show how the
semiotic approach can function as a powerful support to face the present challenges of legal experience and transform legal
practices into an outpost for an emancipatory and “bottom-up” intercultural use of law.
In line with the above, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary proposals will be welcomed in the hope that they can help
trigger a transdisciplinary collaboration aimed to give legal practitioners new instruments to attune people’s experience with
their renewed understanding of the real spatial/semantic coordinates shaping their lived environments.
Contributions are requested for—but not limited to—the following topics:
- Local actions, global meanings: the spatial threads and legal relevance of facts.
- The embodiment of language and the worldwide spatialities of human rights.
- Language and Spaces in Global and Contextualised Human Rights Discourse.
- Justice for work: intercultural communications and the semiotics of worldwide economics.
- Legal assistance and the ubiquitous omnipresent: the connections of the legal subject.
- The facticity/normativity divide when faced with intercultural dynamics: critical and renewing approaches.
- Beyond the Anthropocene: the legal semiotics of ecological sustainability and human subjectivity.
- Translating multi-dimensional/multi-sited ordinary life experiences and the intercultural semiotics of rights.
- Legal practitioners (lawyers, notaries, accountants) and the intercultural use of law.
- Against exotic legality: cultural difference as cognitive diffraction in daily legal experience.
- Secularization and religion: is the secularization of law a limit to the understanding of the interpenetration between
religion and cultures?
- Secularization and religion: is it possible to envisage a legal intercultural secularization as a remedy to the
cognitive/cultural defectiveness of the idea of the political ‘neutrality’ of institutions?
- Interreligious dialogue and semiosic translation as an anthropological means of molding an intercultural legal lexicon.
- The intercultural use of law and semiosic translation/transaction beyond the multiculturalism/interculturalism divide.
- Global healthcare programs, cultural behavioral patterns and intercultural schemes of body/environment relationships. Is it
possible to avert, or monitor in a timely way, future global pandemics?
Abstracts of 300 words (max.) should be submitted by January 6, 2023 to both Mario Ricca (Organizer:
firstname.lastname@example.org) and Anne Wagner (email@example.com) with decisions made by January 20, 2023.
The proposals regarding sub-calls, workshops and webinars can be submitted from now on.
Selected papers will be invited for publication in a Special issue of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law
(Springer: https://www.springer.com/journal/11196) and/or for inclusion in an edited volume of the Law Book Series (Law
and Visual Jurisprudence – Springer: https://www.springer.com/series/16413).
Respecting the tradition, the roundtable languages will be English and French.
Organizational Committee: Mario Ricca, Anne Wagner, Lluis Oviedo, Peter Petkoff, Paolo di Lucia, Paolo Heritier,
Alessandro Saggioro, Giancarlo Anello, Silvia Zorzetto, Giuditta Bassani, Riccardo Bertolotti, Kay Lalor, Jenny Ponzo,