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Law Research Seminar Series - 'Legal Materiality: Genealogies, Working Definition, Critiques' (Dr Hyo Yoon Kang)

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

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Legal Materiality: Genealogies, Working Definition, Critiques'

Speaker: Dr Hyo Yoon Kang, Kent Law School, University of Kent


In the last ten years or so, the notions of matter and materiality have gained more visibility in legal scholarship. These are distinct from approaches informed by historical materialism, and have borrowed from the diverse body of works loosely labelled as 'new materialisms'. I critique some of the legal scholarship's 'application' of new materialist works arguing that they result in flattening the explanatory field: first, they are not attuned to the concrete forms and compositions of legality and second, they tend to simplify and take for granted the complex histories of things, objects or materials. I ask what materiality could mean specifically in relation to 'legal' and propose a working definition that could further a differentiated study of legalities: as a quality in which certain physical and intangible things and techniques become enlisted and come to matter as legal matters of concern. I illustrate the use of such a perspective with the example of the making of 'climate justice'. Lastly, I think about the critiques of such a legal materialist focus, e.g. how does this approach address the 'bigger' concepts (capital, justice, bio/power); is this too or not enough 'materialist'; and does this not rarefy and transcendentalise 'law'?

About the Speaker

Dr Kang's research interests are in intellectual property law, knowledge techniques, transmissions and practices, construction of values and valuation practices, novelty and creativity, and hermeneutic/post-hermeneutic approaches to the study of law. In her work she employs an internalist understanding of law and legal textuality whilst drawing on insights from anthropology, philosophy, social theory, historical epistemology, and science and technology studies.

Law Research Seminars are held on Wednesdays at lunchtime. The seminars are free and open to the public, and a light lunch is provided.

This event is open to the public and free to attend however booking is required via this page. We kindly request that if you are unable to attend that you cancel your booking in order to allow others to attend.

Latecomers to the event are not guaranteed entry. Please be advised that photographs may be taken at the event.

Please contact us if you have any access requirements. See here for further details of accessibility at Birkbeck venues. Food and drink may be served at this event. Please contact us if you have any allergies that we may need to consider.


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