27th – 28th May 2014
Law and Sacrifice: An Interdisciplinary Exploration of the Sacrificial Dynamics of Law
This interdisciplinary conference will explore the sacrificial dynamics of law through a discussion of the ways that sacrifice has been represented, theorized, and oftentimes challenged in modern literature as well as in contemporary philosophical and theological discourse. In the modern era, sacrifice has been understood in numerous, often contradictory, ways. As a crucial concept within the literary, religious, and legal imagination of Western culture, sacrifice has been equated with acts of altruism, resignation, and compromise that nevertheless bear an ineluctable relationship to experiences of tragic suffering, deprivation, and ultimately violence. In theory and in practice, the function of law in society may be regarded as a sacrificial activity: mediating between competing claims to justice, the decision making process of adjudication, and the maintenance of political and social order through the threat of punitive sanctions, are all actions which may be associated with the notion of sacrifice.And yet, due to the seemingly synonymous relationship between sacrifice and violence on the one hand, or sacrifice and religion on the other, legal scholars are often reluctant to acknowledge the sacrificial logic of the modern judicial system.
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