Synesthetic Legalities: Sensory Dimensions of Law and Jurisprudence, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Synesthetic Legalities

Sensory Dimensions of Law and Jurisprudence, 1st Edition

Edited by Sarah Marusek


228 pages

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pub: 2016-11-25
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Synesthesia is the phenomenon where sensual perceptions are joined together as a combined experience – that is, the ability to feel color, hear the visual, or even smell emotion. These types of unions expand the normativity of our legal thinking, as the abilities to represent the tethering of emotion, place, and concept to law are magnified. In this way, interpretations of law and legal phenomena that are enriched with embodied meaning contribute to our understanding of how law works – namely through sensory input, sensory output, and the attachment that happens within these sensory unions. This edited volume explores the richly complex manifestations of synesthesia and law drawing from a plurality of approaches, including legal studies, philosophy, social science, linguistics, history, cultural studies, and the humanities. Contributions in the volume discuss how we feel/taste/smell/see/hear law within the synesthetic scope of legal interpretation, legal consciousness, and legal culture. The collection examines aspects of embodiment, place, and presence that constitutively frame law amidst social, cultural, and historical contexts.


'A surprising and savory smörgåsbord of sensory stipulations. Synesthestic Legalities brings a brilliant and diverse array of scholarly attentions to the frequently misunderstood embodiments of law. The corpus iuris here becomes real, and the process of apprehending its foods, its tastes, its music, its flatness and protrusions, hauntings and the other odours of order, take in properly theatrical fashion to the jurisprudential stage.'

Professor Peter Goodrich, Cardozo School of Law, USA

‘The book flies us to Hawaï, its volcano’s and metaphors. Legal semiotics tells us there, that law involves all our senses and experiences. A feeling of revolt awakens, if that approach is fragmented. Only the peace of rational and sensual wholeness will be felt as meaningful. Law without senses is senseless — can you hear me?’

Professor Jan M. Broekman, University of Leuven, Belgium and Penn State, USA

'Synesthetic Legalities builds on the connection between law and the senses, which is vigorously re-explored in the literature, fortified by law’s material and corporeal turns. But it takes it a step further: it brings in synesthetic, namely the sensorial overlapping where the cause does not determine the effect in a mechanistic manner, but allows for the emergence of a plethora of creative possibilities. Synesthetic Legalities is nothing less than a kaleidoscope of sensorial inputs, ranging from taste to the kinaesthetic, via such varied embodiments as dance, sketching, and ethics of care, all wrapped in the intense sensuality of volcanic ethics. The taste of law will never sound the same after reading this book.'

Professor Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, University of Westminster, UK

Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors


  1. Exploring Layers of Law and the Sensory at the Volcano
  2. [Sarah Marusek]

  3. What Legal Rules are Suitable for Protruding Media of Law and Why? Contribution to the Concept of Locality/Non-Locality of Legal Rules
  4. [Michał Dudek]

  5. From Waste Management to Recycling: Constructing Mental Health Policy in the Kingdom of Tonga
  6. [Timothy P. Fadgen]

  7. What Law Tastes Like: A Free Conjecture on the Palate of Juridicity
  8. [Marcílio Franca and Maria Francisca Carneiro (English Translation by Caio Martino)]

  9. How to Dance to the Law: Engaged Embodiment in Hegel’s Philosophy of Right
  10. [Christopher Lauer]

  11. A Tale of Outsourcing: The Enhanced Presence and Absence of Law through the Senses
  12. [Yue Ang]

  13. ‘Do Not Touch’: Prohibitions on Touch and the Incarcerated Female Body
  14. [Marilyn M. Brown]

  15. Deconstruction and Bio-politics: Asymmetrical Visuality, Spacing, Power
  16. [Chris Lloyd]

  17. Artistic Flash: Sketching the Courtroom Trial
  18. [Anita Lam]

  19. Dependency and Care in Peirce’s Training of Reasoning
  20. [Celia Bardwell-Jones]

  21. "Warmth" in Justice: (Re)semiotization of "Frozen Embryo" in the Civil Case of the Four Shidu Parents
  22. [Liping Zhang and Xian Zhou]

  23. The Copyright of my Sensorimotor Experience
  24. [Kristian Bankov]

  25. An Incitement to Rapey Discourse: Blurred Lines and the Erotics of Protest
  26. [Ummni Khan]

  27. "The Map is Not the Territory": Thoughts About Synesthesia and Law

[John Brigham]


About the Editor

Sarah Marusek is an Associate Professor of Public Law in the Department of Political Science at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo. Her research interests focus on sites of constitutive law, legal geography, and legal semiotics while engaging legal pluralist frameworks of visual jurisprudence. She has published widely on these and related areas.

About the Series

Law, Language and Communication

Law, Language and Communication

This series encourages innovative and integrated perspectives within and across the boundaries of law, language and communication, with particular emphasis on issues of communication in specialized socio-legal and professional contexts. It seeks to bring together a range of diverse yet cumulative research traditions related to these fields in order to identify and encourage interdisciplinary research. The series welcomes proposals - both edited collections as well as single authored monographs - emphasizing critical approaches to law, language and communication, identifying and discussing issues, proposing solutions to problems, offering analyses in areas such as legal construction, interpretation, translation and de-codification.

Anne Wagner is Professor of Legal Semiotics and Research Professor at Centre de Recherche Droits & Perspectives du Droit, équipe René Demogue, Lille University, France. She is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (Springer) and President of the International Roundtables for the Semiotics of Law. She has been awarded the National Research Grant for her research career. Her main research interests include semiotics, verbal and non-verbal sign system analyses, language and law, legal culture and heritage, legal translation, legal terminology, and legal discourse studies.

Vijay K. Bhatia, formerly Professor of English, City University of Hong Kong, is now Adjunct Professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Visiting Professor at the Hellenic American University, Athens (Greece). He is also the founding President of the Languages for Specific Purposes and Professional Communication Association for Asia-Pacific. His research interests include Critical Genre Analysis, academic and professional discourses in legal, business, newspaper, and promotional contexts; ESP and Professional Communication; simplification of legal and other public documents; intercultural and cross-disciplinary variations in professional genres.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Jurisprudence