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Surface: Atmosphere of Spatial Justice

Professor Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (The Westminster Law & Theory Lab, University of Westminster)

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Spatial Justice is an open question: what happens when a body moves into the space of another body? What happens when one body desires to be exactly where another body is, at exactly the same time?Spatial justice fleshes out the violence of unitary emplacement: only one body can occupy a specific space at a specific time. The result of such desire is conflict, displacement, marginalisation, invisibilisation. The question of spatial justice is at the core of every geopolitical, economic, colonial and post-colonial, racial, gendered, class and so on, conflict. It remains the ultimate quest, bringing together justice as emplacement and spatiality as movement. Its emergence does not offer a final solution but urges towards a constant repositioning. In order to explain this, I employ the concepts of the lawscape, namely the spatial and legal tautology, and atmosphere, namely the material illusion of justice as perfect emplacement.  I argue that spatial justice can only emerge through a radical withdrawal from the atmospherics of control perpetuated by the neoliberal, self-policing affective society of growth and consumption; and a movement towards the perpetual questioning that comes from the infinity of space as manifold. Through the above definition and practice of spatial justice, I propose a radical conceptualisation of law and politics of movement, on the basis of a posthuman, affective, embodied and generally material understanding of justice, with the aim at constructing one, continuous ontological surface on which foldings take place.

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, LLB, LLM, PhD, is Professor of Law & Theory at the University of Westminster, and founder and Director of The Westminster Law & Theory Centre. He is regularly invited to talk in institutions around the world and holds permanent professorial affiliations with the Centre for Politics, Management and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School since 2006, and the University Institute of Architecture, Venice since 2009. Andreas has been awarded the 2011 OUP National Award for the Law Teacher of the Year, and has since been invited to join the Judging Committee. His research interests are interdisciplinary and include space, bodies, radical ontologies, post-humanist studies, critical autopoiesis, literature, psychoanalysis, continental philosophy, gender studies, art theory, and their connection to the law. Andreas is also a practicing artist, working on photography, text and performance under the name picpoet. His academic books include the monographs Absent Environments (2007), Niklas Luhmann: Law, Justice, Society (2009), Spatial Justice: Body Lawscape Atmosphere (2014), and the edited volumes Law and the City (2007), Law and Ecology (2011), Observing Luhmann: Radical Theoretical Encounters  (co-edited with Anders La Cour, 2013), and Knowledge-creating Milieus in Europe: Firms, Cities, Territories (co-edited with Augusto Cusinato, 2015). Andreas is the editor (with Christian Borch) of the Routledge Glasshouse series Space, Materiality and the Normative. He is currently preparing the Environmental Research Method Handbook (with Victoria Brooks, Elgar, 2016) and the Routledge Research Handbook on Law and Theory (2016), as well as completing a monograph on Material Justice (2017).

The 2015/16 Art History and Visual Culture research seminar series, chaired by João Florêncio under the theme of “Ecopoetics,” brings together speakers from a wide variety of disciplines – from art history and visual culture to theatre and performance, geography, law, and sociology – to explore the ways in which the realm of the visual intersects with ecological debates, thus reflecting on what it might mean to build an oikos, a home or dwelling place, predicated on more ethical modes of engagement and cohabitation with the human and nonhuman other.


Peter Chalk Centre 1.3