Seminar Philosophy of Law

Dit vak wordt in het Engels aangeboden. Omschrijvingen kunnen daardoor mogelijk alleen in het Engels worden weergegeven.

Doel vak

The student:
• deepens knowledge about topics discussed in the earlier PLG
• gains insight into theories of law and ways of applying these
• acquires competence in reasoning in philosophy of law;
• acquires competence in discussing issues with experts and peers.

Inhoud vak

Law, colonial injustice and the question of restitution
Current discussions about who owns cultural objects acquired during
Europe’s colonial project, form their arguments, limits and
possibilities around international legal instruments such as UNESCO’s
conventions on cultural property. Like broader claims for reparations by
formally colonized peoples, legal demands for redress in cases of
colonial injustice often run up against responses such as ‘it was the
law at the time’ or ‘it was a long, long time ago, and therefore there
are no legal options for claimants today’. The CARICOM-claim regarding
reparations for submitted by a number of Caribbean states, as well as
current demands regarding cultural treasures looted in the late 19th
century in different parts of Africa and elsewhere, can illustrate this
phenomenon. Proposed solutions for these conflicts almost always
circumvent questions of ownership or other legal possibilities. They are
sought in extra-legal ways.
Increased attention for these and similar cases have fueled new research
into the histories of slavery and colonialism, and into the provenance
of colonial cultural objects in Western museums. Similarly, there is an
increasing number of research projects that explore, for example, the
fate of colonial objects in Europe, in relation to the fate of
Nazi-looted art.
While the legal limits of current claims form part of the investigation
of many of these studies, they often fail to pay serious attention to
the relationship between the law and the colonial project itself.
Importantly, they also neglect the relationship between the law,
questions of property and the ‘creation’ of the colonial subject. The
Seminar Legal Philosophy 2019-2020 will focus on precisely this nexus
and will interrogate the role of law within the colonial era, especially
with regard to the legal fashioning of hierarchies of colonial subjects
and the appropriation of colonial objects. How exactly is the law
implicated in the colonial project, and what role should an
attentiveness to law play in today’s debates around restitution or
Bringing together readings from legal and political philosophy, material
culture and critical heritage studies, this course explores some of the
key debates and texts surrounding questions of law, philosophy,
colonialism and questions around reparations or restitution of cultural
objects. Students will be introduced to the works of some of the key
thinkers, such as John Locke, on which contemporary notions of
ownership, the legal subject and (cultural) property are based, probing
their genealogy in relation to the racial hierarchies established under
the colonial project. We will explore both the history and application
of legal frameworks that governed colonial subjects and (cultural)
objects alike and their basis in legal philosophy. Is there reason to
rethink the role of law within debates around reparations and
restitution? And, last but not least: are there reasons to rethink the
idea of property itself? What other genealogies of the law can we trace
to think differently about ownership of (cultural) property?




Written papers, active participation in meetings.


The list of required readings will be presented by the instructor at the
start of the seminar.


Students in the present Master's track PLG and optional course for other
master students (from other disciplines)

Algemene informatie

Vakcode W_MA_PSP
Studiepunten 6 EC
Periode P3
Vakniveau 500
Onderwijstaal Engels
Faculteit Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
Vakcoördinator prof. mr. W.J. Veraart
Examinator prof. mr. W.J. Veraart
Docenten prof. mr. W.J. Veraart

Praktische informatie

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