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Law and the Utopian Imagination$
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Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Merill Umphrey

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804790819

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804790819.001.0001

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Law, Utopia, Event: A Constellation of Two Trajectories

Law, Utopia, Event: A Constellation of Two Trajectories

Law, Utopia, Event: A Constellation of Two Trajectories
Law and the Utopian Imagination

Johan Van Der Walt

Stanford University Press

Law and the utopian imagination constitute a constellation of two opposite responses to disrupting events. Attempts at resettling the social in the wake of unsettling events ultimately resort to law for purposes of restoring order. This restoration, however, is just one possible response to the event. Utopian responses discern in events the promise of a release from the generic prohibitions and inhibitions that law imposes on liberty. They discern in events a utopian release from law in every possible sense of the word and thus also from laws of language and standard communication. The ultimate utopian concern with the event thus finds expression in literature and art that resist the laws of standardised language in order to invoke, or at least allude to, experiences that cannot be communicated in language without betraying it.

Keywords:   Law and literature, Marx, Adorno, Foucault, Nancy, Agamben, Derrida, Nancy, Nussbaum, Rawls

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