1. Events
  2. 2013
  3. March
  4. The laws of enchantment

The laws of enchantment

Cities are sites of cultural and aesthetic production, engaged in a continual process through which they refine  their self-image. One urban intervention that seems to invoke anxiety about social decline and disorder is the production of uncommissioned urban images in the form of graffiti writing and street art Such activities tend to result in the criminalisation of its practitioners and a great deal of social policy dedicated to ‘responsibilising’ citizens in the prevention of illicit images. However, the encounter with the street artwork can evoke more than the criminalising or governmental impulse. This paper reads urban spaces as productive sites in which the appearance of an illicit word or image may mean that a crime has been committed but can also indicate the existence of alternative conceptualisations of property, authority and ownership. Furthermore, such encounters bespeak a contest between competing aesthetic paradigms, through which texture, composition and placement are subjected to the litigation of spatialising practices. The paper’s aim is to suggest that the illicit artwork in public space shows us how legal frameworks relating to property, crime and public order in city spaces can be re-read, drawing on the work of Jane Bennett, as produced by the laws of ‘enchantment’.

About the speaker

Alison Young has an LL.B (Hons) from Edinburgh University and an M.Phil and Ph.D in Criminology from Cambridge University. She is the author of Judging the Image (2005), Imagining Crime (1996) and Femininity in Dissent (1990), as well as numerous articles on the intersections of law, crime and culture. She previously taught in criminology, law and women's studies at the Universities of Manchester, Lancaster and East Anglia. Professor Young is an Associate Editor or member of the Editorial Boards of journals including Feminist Theory, the Griffith Law Review, and Law and Critique. She has been a Visiting Professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo and at Amherst College, and a Visiting Research Fellow at McGill University, London University, New York University and Hong Kong University. In 1998 and 2000, she was the Karl Loewenstein Fellow in Political Science and Jurisprudence at Amherst College, Massachusetts. Professor Young has been an invited plenary speaker at numerous international conferences, including the US Association for the Study of Law, Culture and the Humanities, the British Criminological Conference, the Canadian Law and Society Association, the Law and Society Association of the United States, the British Critical Legal Conference, and the International Association of Law and Literature. She is currently researching in 3 areas: first, she is completing a book on spectatorship, violence and justice in cinema, entitled Visions of Violence: Cinema, Crime, Affect (Routledge, forthcoming); second, she is engaged in a 5 year and at Edith Cowan University); and third, and is undertaking a three year research project, funded by the Australian Research Council, concerning the social, legal and cultural responses to street art