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Centre for Law and the Humanities

The Centre for Law and the Humanities builds on the Law School’s research strengths in the area of law and the humanities including law and aesthetics; law and literature; law and psychoanalysis; critical legal theory; legal history; law and film; and law, space and architecture.

The Centre facilitates and promotes research in law and the humanities within the School and College through the organisation of seminars, workshops, conferences and visits by distinguished scholars.

Current Artist in residence: Margareta Kern. Previous Artists in Residence are listed here.

About Margareta Kern

  • Marareta Kern's practice deals with the politics of making visible forms of power and authority that are felt, yet not always easy to articulate or even perceive. In particular, her current work investigates the performative and mimetic strategies of digital capital, asking if an age of ‘fake news’ has destabilised conventions of ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’, what role is left for art? What kind of images and approaches do we need to cultivate, to counter reactionary and rightwing imaginaries generated by post-truth politics? Kern's year-long residency willinvolve a number of events addressed to Birkbeck students, staff, and open to the general public. In particular, it will include a workshop based on a close reading of an Interim Report: Disinformation and ‘fake news’, recently published by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee. A result of an extensive inquiry, the report contains disturbing evidence of the use of psychological warfare online, to manipulate voter behaviour by companies such as SCL Group/Cambridge Analytica (most notably involved in both Trump’s election in the US, and the Leave campaign in Britain but have conducted behavioural change programs for the governments and military organisations worldwide). Kern’s residency will critically and collaboratively explore the legal and performative potentialities of an inquiry, informing the development of new work.


  • 10 December 2018 Law and politics in the Anthropocene: methods, orientations and encounters.  An all day panel discussion organised by BIH Visiting Fellow, Dr. Daniel Matthews, and supported by the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the Birkbeck Centre for Law and the Humanities.  Further information is given in the Birkbeck event listing.  This event is free but booking is required via the Eventbrite listing.


  • 20 June 2017 Workshop on Performance as Methodology. Explored the potential of theatrical performance as methodology for research in and engagement with archives.
  • 15 June 2017 Roundtable with “Expert Witnesses”. Panel engaging with select materials from the Bhawal court case archive.
  • 8 June 2017 Rehearsing the Witness:Zuleikha Chaudhari in conversation with Nida Ghouse and Başak Ertür, introducing her project on the Bhawal Court Case.
  • 11 June 2015 Illicit Images Workshop with Professor Katherine Biber (UTS Sydney and Visiting Fellow at Birkbeck). In collaboration with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.
  • 28 April 2015 The Philosophy of Friendship seminar with Professor Gregg Lambert (Syracuse University)
  • 20 March 2015 Workshop on Law and the Humanities: A Cross-Disciplinary Exchange (jointly organised with the Centre for Humanistic Legal Studies, University of Bergen)
  • 2 July 2014 Deconstruction is/in Law. This event brought together Derridian legal scholars and theorists for renewed reflection on the enduring legacy of deconstruction for the study of law. Co-hosted with The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities.
  • 22 October 2103 Thinking the Posthuman
  • 22 November 2013 The Murder of Stephen Lawrence Film screening and discussion with Yvette Vanson
  • 28 November 2013 Stitching up the NHS screening and discussion with Yvette Vanson
  • 6 December 2013 Roundtable on Hans Lindal's Faultlines of Globalisation


  • The activities of the Centre for Law and the Humanities are overseen by its directors  Dr Başak Ertür, Professor Patrick Hanafin and Dr Stewart Motha and a small steering committee. The Advisory Board includes members of faculty from other disciplines at Birkbeck as well as internationally renowned scholars in the field of law and the humanities.

Steering Committee

  • Bill Bowring
  • Peter Fitzpatrick
  • Adam Gearey
  • Oscar Guardiola-Rivera
  • Piyel Haldar
  • Elena Loizidou
  • Nathan Moore

International Advisory Board

  • Joseph Brooker (English, Birkbeck)
  • Marianne Constable (Rhetoric, UC Berkeley)
  • Jodi Dean (Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges)
  • William MacNeil (Griffith Law School, Griffith University)
  • Linda Meyer (Quinnipiac Law School)
  • Paul Passavant (Political Science, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Ravit Reichman (English, Brown University)
  • Peter Rush (Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne)
  • Susan Sage Heinzelman (English, University of Texas at Austin)
  • Austin Sarat (Political Science and Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought, Amherst College)
  • Alison Young (Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne)
  • Ari Hirvonen (Law, University of Helsinki)