Monday, May 4, 2015

Call for Papers: Rights, Identities and the Public Space

For the 2015 Critical Legal Conference on "Law, Space and the Political," to be held in Wrocław on September 3-5, 2015, the organizers invite the submission of papers for a stream on "Rights, Identities and the Public Space." Here's the call:

This stream aims to examine functions of public space as a terrain of rivalry between conflicting rights and identities. It assumes that the concept of ‘public space’ plays an important role for the realization of individual and collective rights, as well as expressing individual and collective identities. In a democracy, access to the public forum has always been a condition for the effective participation and realization of citizens’ rights. Nowadays, it is crucial not only for the participation in a democratic process, but also for the mere recognition of presence. Thus, the concept of ‘public space’ may be used either to enable or exclude, and questions who can access public space, or more precisely, who can participate in its making, and on what terms, are critical for any political authority.

The concept of ‘public space’ has already gained significant interest of legal and political theorists (Arendt, Habermas, Lefebvre). Yet, it remains ambiguous as a judicial category. Not only are its boundaries blurred and fluid, but also the meaning and function vary across jurisdictions and levels of authority. Furthermore, the boundaries, content and function of public space seems to change with the rights at stake. While only few rights are naturally confined to forum internum, which is free from any regulation, most of them require public space for their realization. Some rights flourish only when exercised in public, either because of their discursive nature or because of the conventional practice.

The steam invites contributions analysing both theoretical and practical aspects related to conflicts of claims of access to public space, taking into account the dynamic interaction between various sources of authority, in which individual and collective identities are often challenged, re-defined; constrained and constraining. Of particular interest to this stream is the problem of marginalization and exclusion of certain identities and the imposition of syntaxes of the prevailing majorities, which makes the identity-based discrimination hard to demonstrate. Papers in this stream could also analyse public space as a forum for rights discourse between different legal regimes of rights protection.

Please send abstracts (max. 250 words) to: