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Feeling Things: From Visual to Material Jurisprudence

Biber, Katherine. 2018. In Crime’s Archive: The Cultural Afterlife of Evidence. Abingdon: Routledge Manderson, Desmond. 2018. Law and the Visual: Representations, Technologies, Critique. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Abstract

In this article I analyse the extent to which there has been a shift in the cultural turn in legal scholarship and specifically from visual to what I call material jurisprudence, that is from visual to material ways of knowing law. I do so through an analysis of Desmond Manderson’s edited collection, Law and the Visual: Representations, Technologies, Critique (2018a), and Katherine Biber’s monograph, In Crime’s Archive: The Cultural Afterlife of Evidence (2018b). Inspired by the material turn in the arts and humanities I apply a material lens as defined by historians of emotions (Downes et al. 2018) working within this turn to these books. Using this lens, I analyse the extent to which the authors conceptualise and analyse their primary sources in material terms. In so doing it is my intention to encourage scholars of visual jurisprudence to consider the multisensorial nature of law by considering the material as a constitutive part or instead of the visual as has happened elsewhere in the arts, humanities and social sciences, as well as to do so with greater specificity and depth.

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Notes

  1. Warburg never finished his study. The Warburg Institute has digitised two of the three photographed versions of Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas:https://warburg.sas.ac.uk/library-collections/warburg-institute-archive/online-bilderatlas-mnemosyne.

  2. This assumes that they are mutually exclusive in the first place. There is likely a relationship between seeing and liberalism whereby a modern visuality was ascendant during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that was akin to the physiology of the eye ‘equality’, ‘fairness’ and so on.

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Acknowledgements

Kate would like to thank Eamonn Carrabine, Sally Holloway and Ingrid Medby for their comments on an earlier version of this article.

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Correspondence to Kate West.

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West, K. Feeling Things: From Visual to Material Jurisprudence. Law Critique 31, 113–126 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10978-020-09257-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10978-020-09257-9

Keywords

  • Materiality
  • Material jurisprudence
  • Seeing
  • Touching
  • Visuality
  • Visual jurisprudence