ICYMI: Shaw on The Spatio-Legal Production of Bodies Through the Legal Fiction of Death @JoshuaDMShaw @OsgoodeNews @LawAndCritique



Joshua David Michael Shaw, Osgoode Hall Law School, has published The Spatio-Legal Production of Bodies Through the Legal Fiction of Death, at 32 Law and Critique 69-90 (2021). Here is the abstract.


Definitions of death are often referred to as legal fictions since brain death was conceived in the mid-twentieth century. Reference to legal fiction is generally paired with bioethicists’ concern that it facilitates post-mortem tissue donation and the health system generally, by determining death earlier on the continuum of dying and availing more viable tissue and therapeutic resources for others. The author argues that spatio-legal theory, drawing from legal geography, can account for the heterogeneity of effects that the fiction has in spatially managing bodies (e.g., physicians, patient, family) at the bedside. The legal fiction is produced in physicians’ socio-legal practices, coordinating decision-making according to geographies of scarcity and severable, self-contained live- and dead-bodies. The determination liminally exists between private and public, enacting a sterile, affectless ordering of bodies but administered in the spectacle of sovereign death-making, conveying authority whilst managing patient’s and family’s consents. Spatialising traces of anatamo-politics and biopolitics thereby congeal and are enacted heterogeneously in and through the legal form of the fiction, securing preferred constructions of the body in the management of mortality. These spatio-legal features of the legal fiction are described from their collision with case law and literature that document competing nomoi produced from or secreted by antinomian bodies.

Here is the link from the publisher’s website (subscription might be required).