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School of Law Hosts Talking Books Event: With Dogs at the Edge of Life

On Friday 3rd March, Birkbeck School of Law hosted an event with Professor Colin Dayan and her recently published book With Dogs at the Edge of Life.

On Friday 3rd March, Birkbeck School of Law hosted an event with Professor Colin Dayan and her recently published book With Dogs at the Edge of Life.

With Dogs at the Edge of Life tackles head-on the inexhaustible world, at once tender and fierce, of dogs and humans. It follows the tracks of dogs in the bayous of Louisiana, the streets of Istanbul, and the humane societies of the United States, and in the memories and myths of the humans who love them.

Colin makes a powerful case for questioning what we think of as our deepest-held beliefs and, with dogs in the lead, unsettles the dubious promises of liberal humanism (this description is taken from the publisher’s website here).

The evening opened with a book reading from Colin and responses from the School of Law’s Marinos Diamantides and Chrysanthi Nigianni, Lecturer in Psychosocial Studies at Goldsmiths. Dr Elena Loizidou of the School of Law chaired the event.

The two contributions by Marinos and Chrysanthi deepened the exchange between different fields of knowledge, and the dialogue on academic knowledge as political praxis and social intervention.

If there is a way of creating a better world, all speakers agreed, where cruelty does not exist, then we need to turn to an ethics or spirituality that puts at its centre the dog, in both the material and affective sense – only then perhaps could we begin to imagine the world anew.

The discussion was followed by questions from an engaged and well-attended audience of academics from a range of disciplines, including law, literature, media and the arts, as well as psychoanalysts and artists.

The diversity and interdisciplinary nature of the audience created an enlivened atmosphere, drawing interesting perspectives on links between ethics, law and politics and the intersections of the personal/memoir and the social.

‘Enlivened by Elena’s words and the responses of Marinos Diamantides and Chrysanthi Nigianni’ Colin says, ‘ I realized what it might mean to live an intellectual life that has real consequences, a way of thinking that matters.

If academic caution conceptually ‘defangs thought’ as the anthropologist Eduardo Vivieros de Castro wrote in his brilliant introduction to Pierre Castres’s  Archeology of Violence, then the evening at Birkbeck—my respondents and the formidable audience—re-fanged it’.

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