IMAGES AND OTHERS Migration, Law, and the Image: Beyond the Veil of Ignorance




7:30 PM - 7:30 PM


Rawles Hall 100


This lecture aims at the convergence of three disciplines: 1) the law, with its entire edifice of judicial practice and political philosophy; 2) migration, as the movement and settlement of living things, especially (but not exclusively) human beings, across the boundaries between distinct habitats; 3) iconology, the theory of images across the media, including verbal and visual images, metaphors and figures of speech as well as visual representations. Examining a range of examples from science fiction narratives of alien species, to stories of conquest, colonization, and ethnic cleansing, to the development of contemporary practices of detention and border policing, the lecture will argue that immigration in our time has ceased to be a merely transitional phase in human life, and threatens to become a permanent condition for growing numbers of people. This poses a radical challenge to liberal notions of universal human equality which depend, paradoxically, on philosophies of exclusion and the policing of borders to protect actually existing liberal polities. The veil of ignorance about particular human identities (race, class, gender, ethnicity) that philosopher John Rawls regarded as foundational to liberal notions of justice and equality comes under new kinds of stress in a time when the borders between peoples have become zones of increasing violence and despair.

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