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The Underworlds Series: Frontier(s) as Sites of Global Dis/Ordering

February 28, 2024 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

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As part of the Underworlds series, the event focuses on frontiers as sites of global dis/ordering. It foregrounds how frontier spaces are legally, materially, and discursively produced and what kinds of activity this production enables and forecloses. This also entails an attentiveness to the forms of refusal and resistance that the violence and extractivism of frontier spaces invite. What are the lineages and legacies of frontier thinking in histories of racial capitalism, and how are these intertwined with regimes of (international) legal ordering? How is frontier imagination currently extended to new locations – from the deep seabed to outer space – and what are the effects of this extension? Which forms of political countermobilization do these frontier imaginaries invite?

The Speakers

Dr. Christine Schwöbel-Patel is Professor at Warwick Law School and a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University’s Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH). She is the author of two monographs Marketing Global Justice (CUP 2021) and Global Constitutionalism in International Legal Perspective (Brill 2011). She is co-editor of Aesthetics and Counter-Aesthetics of International Justice (Counterpress 2023 forthcoming), and editor of Critical Approaches to International Criminal Law: An Introduction (Routledge 2014). Christine’s current research project is on Legal Pipelines of the Green Transition, which aims to make sense of the relationship between (international) law, the green transition, and capitalism. Rosa Luxemburg’s work and influence runs like a red line through her research and pedagogy. Christine won two competitive stipendiary fellowships for her project on Legal Pipelines: An Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers based at the Humboldt University in Berlin (2022-2023) and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2023-2024).

Cait Storr is a Lecturer at Melbourne Law School. Her transdisciplinary research addresses the relationship between property, territory and jurisdiction, with a focus on struggles for legal control over natural resources. She has published on the history of international administration, the concept of territory in international law, imperialism in the Pacific, decolonisation, and environmental law, and is the author of International Status in the Shadow of Empire: Nauru and the Histories of International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2020). Cait’s research is informed by her professional experience working in government and private legal practice. She is a qualified legal practitioner, with experience at a major law firm in resource projects, environment and planning, and corporate governance, and has worked as a legal consultant for the United Nations Development Program. Cait has held positions as Lecturer in Land Law at Glasgow Law School, as Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney, and as junior faculty with the Harvard Institute of Global Law and Policy. Her postdoctoral work examined the history and politics of the law governing resource extraction in domains beyond national jurisdiction, and her current research examines the rise of critical minerals discourse in Australian law and politics.

Event Resources

The Series: Underworlds – Sites and Struggles of Global Dis/Ordering

Engagement with practices of global ordering is often guided towards specific locations and legacies: the sovereign state, the formal sources and standards of international law, the intricacies of global diplomacy, the historical juncture and its (anti-)heroes, the international palaces of hope in Geneva, New York, or The Hague. These explorations entail ideas of where power resides and where it is to be unmasked or undone – ideas implicitly grounded in modernist geographies, temporalities, and subjectivities. Starting from the limits of these familiar perspectives, this lecture and workshop series traces the multiple ways in which these sites, actors, and events are cabined, crossed, and cut apart by alternative material arteries, lineages, and languages of global dis/ordering.

The series takes as starting point that authority and order are not fixed properties of specific actors or institutions, but the result of ongoing material processes of ordering and world-making. As such, it traces unconventional forms and sites of global dis/ordering – from raw materials to projections of hope – as material, infrastructural, and discursive compositions that shape patterns of power. The encounter between old- and new materialist, Marxist and decolonial methodologies and modes of critique is one of the key objectives of this series. Its aim, however, is not only methodological: it aspires to inspire new ethical and political openings that attend to our inevitable complicity in taking part in these processes, and reveal new modes of resistance and refusal, of struggle and sociality. These interventions are not narrowly targeted at the old nemeses of critique – the state, the truth, the universal – but work from within both entrenched and emergent material sites and practices of dis/ordering: oceans, oil / coal, breath, debt, commons, frontier(s), waste, hope, wild / feral, vessels.

Programme (all events take place online at 14.00 BST)

Oceans (with Renisa Mawani and Surabhi Ranganathan) – 11 October 2023

Oil / Coal (with Lys Kulamadayil and On Barak) – 25 October 2023

Breath (with Daniela Gandorfer and Jean-Thomas Tremblay) – 22 November 2023

Debt (with Vasuki Nesiah and Kojo Koram) – 13 December 2023

Commons (with Isabel Feichtner and Elsa Noterman) – 24 January 2024

Frontier(s) (with Christine Schwöbel-Patel and Cait Storr) – 28 February 2024

Waste (with Heather Davis and Michael Hennessy Picard) – 27 March 2024

Hope (with Claire Colebrook and David Chandler) – 24 April 2024

Wild / Feral (with Irus Braverman and Floris De Witte) – 29 May 2024

Vessels (with Rinaldo Walcott and Itamar Mann) – 19 June 2024

The series is convened by Marie Petersmann and Dimitri Van Den Meerssche and co-organised by QMUL (the Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences and the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context) and the LSE Law School.


February 28, 2024
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Event Category:


Law Events


Online event