Call For Papers: University of Lucerne: In the Thick of Images: Law, History, and the Visual

From Steven Howe, University of Lucerne:

In the Thick of Images: Law, History, and the Visual 

Monday 10 & Tuesday 11 June 2024
University of Lucerne


“Suppose that whatever we’ve done, felt, and thought has always happened in the thick of images.” (Anand Pandian, Reel Word: An Anthropology of Creation)

The ‘visual turn’ has long been turning in critical and cultural studies of law (see Douzinas & Nead 1999). In the past twenty-five years, a growing body of scholarship has evolved that emphasises law’s “constitutive imbrication” (Crawley 2020) with an array of visual forms, and elaborates on the ways in which images “shape and transform legal life” (Sarat et al. 2005). Weaving together an eclectic set of theories, concepts, methods and materials, such studies refuse thin readings of images as merely illustrative of law, and invite us to think more deeply about their ideological and visual operations – about the meanings they carry and make available, about their material presence and affective effects, and about the cultural-political and cultural-legal work they perform across their multiple contexts of production, circulation and reception.

Much of this scholarship focuses on the contemporary conjuncture of law and visuality. Yet law’s imbrication with the visual is not exclusive to the present; law has always lived, happened and mattered “in the thick of images”. This is the starting point for our two-day conference, which seeks to explicitly foreground historical and historicist work on law and the visual. Situated at the disciplinary crossroads of law, history, visual cultural studies, art history, film and photography studies, In the Thick of Images invites multiple viewpoints and approaches to converge on ways of negotiating the entanglements of law, history and the visual – in various contexts, scales and timeframes.

Link to the full Call for Papers and other information

* Keynote speakers to be announced shortly

Proposals due by 19 January 2024 to


Steven Howe (
Laura Petersen (
Nicole Schraner (


The conference forms part of the SNSF research project: Imagining Justice: Law, Politics and Popular Visual Culture in Weimar Germany