‘Approaching Law’s Matters’ Workshop, 22 September 2017

A one-day workshop on implications of actor-network theory, media theory and object-oriented ontology for the study of law.Approaching Law's Matters 22092017


22 September 2017

University of Kent, Canterbury

Templeman Library, Room A108

organised by Hyo Yoon Kang and Sara Kendall (Kent Law School)

sponsored and supported by Kent Law School’s Research Group Social Critiques of Law (SoCril)


This informal workshop will entail three sessions exploring the relevance and possible benefits of theoretical developments for legal scholarship. These sessions will take the format of conversations between legal scholars and colleagues outside the legal discipline. The morning conversation will explore actor-network theory and its uptake of Tarde’s sociology and transformation into a normative agenda in recent years. After lunch, we will be in conversation about the role of media, objects and aesthetics through the lens of German media/cultural studies. We will conclude the day with learning about Tristan Garcia’s take on object-oriented ontologies.

The conversation and discussion will center around a pre-assigned and circulated text which will be available after registration. For the Latour session, we will circulate the re-enacted Tarde/Durkheim debate and the law chapter in Latour’s Modes of Existence book. For German media theory and law, we will circulate ‘Rejouer les crimes’ by Cornelia Vismann and possibly another additional resource. Iain MacKenzie has kindly suggested the introduction of Tristan Garcia’s Form and Object for the afternoon session on object-oriented ontology.



Introduction: Hyo Yoon Kang and Sara Kendall (KLS)

From Latour’s revival of the Tarde/Durkheim debate to law as a mode of existence
Matei Candea (Anthropology, Cambridge) and Alain Pottage (Law, LSE)


14:00- 15:30
German-media theory and law
Philipp Ekhardt (Warburg Institute), Hyo Yoon Kang (KLS) and Sara Kendall (KLS)

Coffee break

Object-oriented ontology and law
Iain Mackenzie (Politics, Kent), Connal Parsley (KLS)


Critical Approaches to Law between Textuality and New Materialities – June 2016

textmatworkshop poster final

This one-day workshop will explore the past and present state of law and critical theory as a textual epistemic practice, with the aim of developing new approaches that can inform future scholarship within and beyond the field. As “new materialist” approaches such as actor-network theory and object-oriented theories have been taken up within legal scholarship, what alternate or composite legal epistemologies might be drawn from critical theory, with its emphases on textuality and hermeneutics? How can we conceptualise the juridical form itself, not as a pre-given vector of power or as an instrument that produces social effects, but rather as a textual technique or orientation? Can we redraw the relationship between law and critical theory in a way which reimagines and refines the meanings of criticality and critique beyond an instrumental understanding?

The workshop will examine the current rift and productive tension which is prevalent in current legal scholarship: ‘new’ materialisms versus textuality. The former in legal scholarship seems to be often equated with a sociological reading and methodological application of actor-network theory, whereas the latter is closely associated with scholars concerned with questions of interpretation and legal hermeneutics, broadly identified with law and the humanities. As many theoretically informed contemporary legal scholars have been engaged in issue-driven analyses and arguments, this workshop represents an opportunity to revisit questions of ontology and epistemology of law with a rich interdisciplinary group of legal thinkers and social theorists.


Update June 2017: we are pleased to announce the continuation and deepening of the conversation as a research network on Legal Materialities sponsored through the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council grant (September 2017 to September 2019).

More information and link to the AHRC Legal Materialities research network will be posted here in September 2017.



Hyo Yoon KangĀ  & Sara Kendall (Kent Law School)



Mark Antaki (Law, McGill)

Mario Biagioli (Law & Science Studies, UC Davis)

Marianne Constable (Rhetoric, UC Berkeley)

Maria Drakopoulou (Law, Kent)

Samantha Frost (Political Theory, Illinois)

Markus Krajewski (Media History and Theory, Basel)

James Martel (Political Theory, San Francisco State)

Stuart Murray (English Language and Literature, Carleton)

Chantal Nadeau (Gender and Womens Studies, Illinois)

Yoriko Otomo (Law, SOAS)

Connal Parsley (Law, Kent)

Alain Pottage (Law, LSE)

Kriss Ravetto (Cinema and Digital Media, UC Davis)


We are grateful for the support of KLS Research Workshop Fund and KLS Research which enabled the workshop to take place.


Information: h.y.kang@kent.ac.uk or s.kendall@kent.ac.uk