Dr Illan rua Wall

ISRF Early Career Fellow 2016-17

Dr Illan rua Wall

ISRF Early Career Fellow 2016-17

Illan rua Wall ISRF

Illan rua Wall is an Associate Professor at the Warwick Law School. He holds a BCL from University College Cork, an LLM from the National University of Ireland, Galway and a PhD from Birkbeck College, University of London. He has published on critical legal theory, theories of constituent power, the Arab Spring, protest and transitional justice in Colombia, theories of human rights and revolt, and new Andean constitutional apparatuses. He is the co-founder of the blog criticallegalthinking.com.

His ISRF project works on the relation between law and disorder. Legal concepts are usually framed as being a part of the everyday social order. However, in moments of disorder we find the legal system stripped of its conventional architecture: the monopoly of the use of force, the control of territory and populations, the authority of the legislature, the constitutional unity of the people, or law’s claim to neutral universal protection. In moments of disorder, law as an institution and a basis of the social order is questioned. The problem with extant ideas of the law of disorder is that they start from law’s ‘normalcy’. The ‘Law of Disorder’ reverses the priority wherein law is the horizon of meaning for understanding disorder. Instead it places the emphasis on thinking from within the ‘disordered’ event, attempting to see beyond the conventional legal understanding of constitutional ‘origins’, criminal prosecution and balancing of rights.

The Law of Disorder

This project will pioneer the new field of the law of disorder. Legal concepts are usually framed as being a part of the everyday social order. However, in moments of disorder we find the legal system stripped of its conventional architecture: the monopoly of the use of force, the control of territory and populations, the authority of the legislature, the constitutional unity of the people, or law’s claim to neutral universal protection. In moments of disorder, law as an institution and a basis of the social order is questioned. The problem with extant ideas of the law of disorder is that they start from law’s ‘normalcy’. The ‘Law of Disorder’ reverses the priority wherein law is the horizon of meaning for understanding disorder. Instead it places the emphasis on thinking from within the ‘disordered’ event, attempting to see beyond the conventional legal understanding of constitutional ‘origins’, criminal prosecution and balancing of rights.

During the one-year ISRF fellowship, rather than beginning with war, the state of exception or transitional justice (all points of interest for ‘the Law of Disorder’), the project will focus on the question of protest crowds. These reveal essential questions about law and social order. The project will analyse how the protest crowd generates an atmosphere in the space it occupies. From the square or park, sometimes this atmosphere begins to seep outwards, gradually settling upon the city or even the state (as a sense of crisis). Take for example the atmosphere of Madrid or Athens at the height of the Indignados occupations of 2011/2. In this new atmosphere, there is a revision of the type of political settlement that is realistic and possible, evidenced in Greece by the emergence and success of Syriza, the anti-austerity party which grew from the sustained pressure of the protest crowds.

Research Outcomes

  • rua Wall, I. (Ed.) (2019) Catastrophe [Special issue]. Law and Critique, 30(3).
  • rua Wall, I. (2018) ‘This agitated veil : a spatial justice of the crowd’ in C. Butler and E. Mussawir (eds), Spaces of Justice : Positions, Passages, Appropriations. Wildy & Sons.
  • rua Wall, I. (2018) Turbulent legality: Sovereignty, security and the police. In Routledge Handbook of Law and Theory (pp. 223-241). Routledge.
  • rua Wall, I. (2016) The law of crowds. Legal Studies36(3), 395-414.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at lars.cornelissen@isrf.org.