Seminar series

Condition Critical: Disruption, disaster and the challenges to law

7, 9, 13, 14, 21, 23, 28 & 30 September 2021

Online > Registration open

Overview

 Law is generally understood as a force for continuity, predictability and order. What is its role in responding to disasters or other major disruptions? The declaration of a state of emergency is often the first response of law-makers and governments. This suspension of law’s normal operation is a moment of extreme danger, rivalling that of the disaster itself, in the licence it gives to powerful forces, government and otherwise, to exercise unfettered force. Yet it is also presents spectacular opportunities for reinvention, for government and other social institutions, as well as communities, entrepreneurs and other ‘disruptors’.

In the aftermath of hurricanes and pandemics the rich and powerful have been known to display ruthless disregard for life and well-being: shooting ‘looters’, ordering workers to risk their lives to work through a pandemic, using ‘social distancing’ measures to break down social solidarity and protest movements. There have also been instances of mounting solidarity and altruism, whether among first responders and neighbours, or in government action to temporarily widen social ‘safety nets’ to include undocumented immigrants (Portugal) or to house the homeless (Australia).

In this seminar series participants will explore the heuristic and political potential of systems breakdowns, from empirical, theoretical or policy perspectives. These perspectives will, above all, be critical: because they study crises, because our condition is critical, and because a return to an unexamined – uncriticised – normality is not an option.[

[Registration is free but mandatory. Email must be sent to patriciab@ces.uc.pt]