Upcoming interdisciplinary conference looks at law and the human body

The Law and the Curated Body Conference will bring together academics and practitioners working in law, art, the humanities, the social sciences, medicine, religion and the healing arts to shed light on contemporary issues affecting the human body and widen discussion around contested social, ethical and legal norms. The conference takes place March 26 and 27 at the Moot Courtroom, Ignat Kaneff Building (Osgoode Hall Law School) on York’s Keele campus. On March 28, it moves to the Law Society of Upper Canada at the Old Osgoode Building, 130 Queen Street West at University Avenue in downtown Toronto.

Paulette Phillips, The Directed Lie, (2013); photo courtesy of the artist

The panel discussions, which will be structured to generate interdisciplinary insights, will consider such topics as:

  • Copyright in dance choreography;
  • Judging B-Boying performance;
  • Amnesty International activist photography;
  • The use of mindfulness techniques in legal negotiation;
  • The adoption of yogic techniques and Buddhist principles by lawyers practising in an adversarial system;
  • The biopolitical regulation in body rituals from circumcision to the monthly bath or Mikveh;
  • Embedded artistic practice within war zones;
  • Teaching insight meditation to prisoners so they can “leave prison” before they get out;
  • The role of artists’ residencies and applied aesthetics in palliative care;
  • The deployment of lie detection technology as an artistic medium;
  • The legal and ethical implications in the exhibition of deceased, disabled and spectacular human bodies;
  • The curating of the public gaze in the online display of former Manitoba Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas’ eroticized body.
Faisal Bhabha
Faisal Bhabha

“We are proud to host this first conference of its kind,” said Osgoode Professor Faisal Bhabha who, along with Professors Jennifer Fisher and Barbara Sellers-Young of the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, designed and organized the event. “Through innovative and interdisciplinary presentations and workshops, we will explore how the curatorial can contribute to understanding the connections and interplay between law and the body.”

There will be two keynote lectures in Osgoode Hall Law School’s Moot Courtroom that will be open to the general public. On March 26 at 11:15am, Alan Read, professor of theatre, King’s College London, UK will present “Performance, Law and Ethics: Staging the Irreparable Body,” and on March 27 at 10:45am, Angela P. Harris, professor of law, UC Davis Law School, California will present “Compassion and Critique.”

Alan Read
Alan Read
Angela Harris
Angela Harris

The conference program will also include a reading of Catherine Frid’s new play, NormaLeeDean, written and produced with the assistance of Osgoode students last semester, and the launch of performance artist and lawyer Julie Lassonde’s Counterbalance. Frid and Lassonde are Osgoode’s Artists in Residence for the 2014-15 academic year. Osgoode’s 2013-14 Artist in Residence, Cindy Blažević, will also give a talk.

The third day of the Law and the Curated Body Conference will be held at the Barristers’ Lounge at Osgoode Hall, 130 Queen Street West, Toronto. The program will feature artist Chrysanne Stathacos’ performance of Rose Mandala as well as presentations and workshops centred on “self-care” for lawyers and activists, and a panel discussion on “The Curious Case of Associate Chief Justice Lori Douglas” featuring University of Manitoba law Professor Karen Busby and Osgoode Hall Law School Professors Sonia Lawrence and Susan Drummond.

Chrysanne Stathacos, Rose Mandala, (2014); photo courtesy of the artist
Chrysanne Stathacos, Rose Mandala, (2014); photo courtesy of the artist