Community Interrupted: Towards a Less Constitutional Constitutionalism
Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 12:30pm to 2:00pm
IKB Room 2027
Professor Stacy Douglas, Carleton University
This presentation will begin with the premise that constitutions are often considered to be the primary devices with which to construct new political communities in post-revolutionary, post-colonial and post-conflict societies. In these scenarios, new constitutions become the vehicles for achieving grand changes; they are the devices that are deployed to articulate aspirations of renewal. However, the centralisation of the constitution and its presumed deliverance of democracy – or what I call constitutional fetishism – conflates the everyday management of populations with the vast horizons of political possibilities. Indeed, the constitution and those theorists who promote it as the key device with which to negotiate political community, monumentalize the production of sovereignty – both of the nation and the atomized subjects within it. The poverty of this conflation is readily apparent in the South African context. There, centering the document as the key tool in the navigation of political community denies the messy realities of subjectivities and glosses over persistent issues of inequality. In this presentation Prof. Douglas will argue that rather than concretize community, we should look to devices that help us unimagine sovereignty in order to attend to the plurality of the world. She will also argue that museums are one such site that can help us interrupt steady and strong conceptions of community that orient the political imaginations and sovereign desires of western legal regimes.
Stacy Douglas is Assistant Professor of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Former Co-Director of the Centre for Law, Gender, and Sexuality at Kent Law School, as well as Editorial Board member of Feminist Legal Studies and feminists@law, she has published academic and political commentary in Law and Critique; Law, Culture & the Humanities; Theory & Event; Radical Philosophy; Australian Feminist Law Journal; Canadian Dimension; and Truthout, and recently co-edited a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Law and Society on law and decolonization. She is winner of the 2014 Julien Mezey dissertation prize from the Association for Law, Culture, and the Humanities.
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