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The YTL Law and Justice Forum: The Politics of Culture: Equality, Participation, Production

Strand Campus, London

27 Feb
The YTL Centre
Part of the The YTL Centre's Law & Justice Forums

The YTL Centre usually holds three 'Law and Justice' forums per year. These are one day events that discuss major questions of the day by bringing to bear inter-disciplinary perspectives from politics, philosophy and law.

On February 27th, 2020, the YTL Centre for Politics, Philosophy, and Law will present a special Law and Justice Forum on the topic of 'The Politics of Culture: Equality, Participation, Production'.

The forum will be concerned with the relationship between aesthetic culture, democracy, law, and politics. Among the questions to be addressed in the forum are the following:

  • What is the relationship between democracy, culture, and beauty?
  • Can aesthetic experiences, such as that of beauty, promote the realization of egalitarian values?
  • What is the proper role of government in promoting and regulating cultural and aesthetic production?
  • What rights of cultural and aesthetic participation must we respect in order to live together as political equals?
  • Is a liberal democracy compatible with elitism in the cultural sphere?


These questions, and others, will be addressed in three panel discussions:


12:45-14:00: “Architecture and the Right of Assembly: The Parks and Meadows of Frederick Law Olmsted” by Elaine Scarry (Harvard) with comments by Prof Sarah Wilson (Courtauld Institute) and Prof Lorenzo Zucca (KCL).

Abstract: The right of assembly is cognate with the right of free speech – they occur together in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Strangely, while thousands of books, articles, and everyday conversations have been dedicated to explicating the right of free speech, there has ordinarily been minimal attention to the right of assembly. This lecture will focus on the architecture of assembly as it is formulated by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. It will also draw on an array of other materials, from the 13th-century Charter of the Forest up through Harlan’s dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson and forward in time to the Berlin Wall.

Chair: Dr Zoe Norridge (KCL) (Room: Somerset House East Wing, Room SW1.18)

14:00-14:15: Refreshment break

14:15-16:00 "The Culture of Democracy": John Skorupski (St. Andrews/Birkbeck) with comments by Rachel Fraser (Oxford) and Véronique Munoz-Dardé (UCL/Berkeley)

Chair: Jonathan Gingerich (Room: Somerset House East Wing, Room SW1.18) 

16:00-16:15: Refreshment break

16:15-18:00 International Law: Roger O'Keefe (Bocconi) with comments by Tatiana Flessas (LSE) and Philippa Webb (KCL)

Chair: John Tasioulas (KCL) (Room: Somerset House East Wing, Room SW1.18) 


The forum will conclude with an interdisciplinary evening panel discussion:

18:45-19:45 Elaine Scarry, John Skorupski, and Roger O'Keefe interviewed by Jonathan Gingerich (Room: Nash Lecture Theatre, 2nd Floor, King's Building)


List of Speakers:

Professor Elaine Scarry, Walter M. Cabot Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value, Harvard University

Professor John Skorupski, Professor Emeritus of Moral Philosophy, University of St. Andrews, and Visiting Professor, Birkbeck, University of London

Professor Roger O'Keefe, Full Professor of International Law, Bocconi University


Attendance for the entire event is not compulsory.

This event is open to the public and everybody is welcome to attend, though everyone must register.

Seats are allocated on a strictly first come, first served basis. 

If you find you can no longer attend please cancel your ticket registration, so that someone else can have your place.

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