Interrogating Publics

Sharron Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


The negation contained in the term and practice of the unbuilt throws the law into a quest for its own limits and limitations. The unbuilt extends geographically and conceptually in relation to law, and appears in law’s temporal horizons in ways that can be deeply unsettling for the law. The proposed symposium aims at unfolding this connection, thereby tapping in the potential for the law in developing in ways that would include its selfnegation and doubting. The unbuilt is seen by the law variously as a promise for future abstaining, a past gap to be filled, or a present and constant question on legal teleology. In relation to the law, the unbuilt can appear in its geographical/ architectural sense as the area to be kept beyond development, the ecological off-limits, the not-yet developed, or indeed the overdeveloped, in the sense of illegal settlements, which needs to be rationalised in more or less radical ways (razing or legalisation being the two extremes of the legal inclusion). In its metaphorical sense, the unbuilt irks the law from within, a lacuna of potential legal colonisation, that questions the legal edifice in a foundational manner: how able is the law to accept the fact that parts of its structure are in need of development? Even if this can take place without much legitimacy problems, how is the law to deal with the fact that parts of its structure are to remain ‘unbuilt’ even though they are making their presence felt in a most urgent way. The connection of law with urban justice, the right to the city, geographical control and territoriality are all areas in which law is invited to accept them as ‘unbuilt’ and, hopefully, bind itself to a promise of abstinence –not as a concession to liberal ideology, but as an understanding of law’s limited ability to deal with them. The proposed symposium will target issues such as the above from the dual perspective of the law and the unbuilt, in its material and metaphorical dimensions, with the aim at describing and apprehending the structures that allow for a legal conceptualisation of the unbuilt.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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