LAC Event: “Dirty Hands and Resilient Legal Gestures – Regulating the Handshake in Pandemic Culture”

ATT1-Dirty Hands - Web

The Law.Arts.Culture lecture series is holding its first event of the year this October 19th! Canada Research Professor Sheryl N. Hamilton of Carleton University will be addressing the York and Osgoode community, providing her presentation “Dirty Hands and Resilient Legal Gestures: Regulating the Handshake in Pandemic Culture” between 12:30 and 2:00pm in Room 2027 of the Ignat Kaneff Building. Lunch will be provided although you are asked to RSVP at the event portal here: The event description includes the following:

In an historical moment where we are repeatedly told by both purveyors of health information and popular culture alike that our hands are dirty and in need of constant cleansing (lest we infect ourselves and others), what happens to common forms of hand-to-hand touch that have long held legal consequence? In this talk, Sheryl Hamilton locates the end-of-game handshake in team sports and the greeting/parting handshake in business etiquette within a broader social context of the troubling of touch within pandemic culture. The handshake is productively theorized she posit, as simultaneously: an embodied ritual, a form of intimate touch, and a legal gesture. She frames the handshake, not only as a complex, quotidian legal ritual, but also as an increasingly volatile mode of handwork in contemporary life. Not surprisingly, in both business and sports the handshake has recently garnered formal and informal regulatory attention. Embodied alternatives are often posed, including fist bumps and touch through the second skin of clothing, among others. Yet, the representation, circulation, and contestation of these other ways of touching highlight an ongoing clash of values between a normative, haptic-legal order and the current cultural imperative to hygiene.

I hope to see everyone there!

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