A New AHRC-Funded International Network: Law and the Human @LawandtheHuman1 @KentLawSchool @unikent

From Professors Maria Drakopoulou and Connal Parsley of the University of Kent Law School, news of the launch of the AHRC-sponsored Law and the Human Network. Below is their announcement.

We are pleased to announce a new AHRC-funded international network on the theme of “Law and the Human”, based at Kent Law School, University of Kent, UK, and with the involvement of network partner Amherst College, USA.

We invite you to subscribe to the network’s mailing list http://eepurl.com/gozR41, to visit our website at https://research.kent.ac.uk/law-and-the-human-network/, and follow the network on Twitter @LawandtheHuman1.

The network’s premise is that the historical role of law, as a primary site of knowledge and debate about the nature of the human and humanity, has been called into question in multiple ways.  Current political, economic, biomedical and environmental conditions cast doubt on the universality of the ‘individual human subject’ of liberal jurisprudence, political theory and philosophy, while recent developments in bio-sciences and technology have questioned longstanding conceptual demarcations between the human and non-human, machine and human, and human and animal. At the same time, new modes of thought emerging across the humanities and social sciences have engendered novel categories, such as ‘posthuman’, ‘technohuman’ and ‘transhuman’ that have come to challenge law’s once venerable authority over the normative institution of humanity.


Notwithstanding these developments, however, juridical visions of the human continue to remain powerful in innumerable fields of regulation and practice—albeit often in potentially contradictory ways. Complicating the issue further, legal thought and practice are undergoing transformation by the increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning which, in introducing new forms of machine-human interactions, foregrounds the role of techniques and technology in shaping the normative institution of the human in concrete situations and transactions.

In light of these rapid developments, law’s custodial role in the generation and transmission of visions of the human and humanity is clearly in need of reassessment. How does law think the human, today? Can law continue to privilege the autonomous, rational, and self-interested subject of liberal individualism in the current political, economic and scientific conditions? What antinomies may potentially arise between this subject and that identified by critical analyses of contemporary political and economic life? Can law’s understanding of the human be reconciled with current techno-scientific developments that profoundly alter understandings of ethical humanity, and of human potentialities and futures? And if not, how do these discourses extend, eschew, repeat or repurpose the contours of juridical humanity? What novel political orderings and power differentials are arising, and what familiar ones—racial, economic, gendered—are being reproposed? 

The international network on Law and the Human will gather, support and advance interdisciplinary research that raises questions, provokes reflection and generates new knowledge on the figure of the human and its relationship to law. These objectives will be promoted by a set of meetings, events, publications and web-based media communications, aimed at fostering international dialogue and debate among scholars from the social sciences, law, the arts, and the humanities.

You are warmly invited to subscribe to the network’s e-mail list (http://eepurl.com/gozR41) and Twitter account (@LawandtheHuman1) in order to follow the network’s activities and receive news, updates and calls for participation in interdisciplinary exchanges and research events. Please also visit our website https://research.kent.ac.uk/law-and-the-human-network/ for more details of the network, its current members, our network partner (Amherst College, USA) and activities.