Mitchell Travis is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Centre for Law and Social Justice at the University of Leeds. He is the co-author of Intersex Embodiment: Legal Frameworks Beyond Identity and Disorder (2022, Bristol University Press), The co-editor of A Jurisprudence of the Body (2020, Palgrave) and the co-editor of two forthcoming edited collections Cultural Legal Studies of Science Fiction (2024, Routledge) and Science Fiction as Legal Imaginary (2024, Routledge). Mitchell has co-edited special issues of Law, Technology and Humans (2022) and Culture, Health and Sexuality (2021). Mitchell has also published widely in such journals as Law and Literature, The International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, Legal Studies, Law and Society and Social and Legal Studies
Abstract: Dystopia Now
How would the theorisation, practice and teaching of law change if we were to acknowledge that we live in a dystopia? This paper breaks with traditional accounts of dystopias that posit them as occurring in the future. Instead, bringing together work on law and science fiction and research on law and temporality, this paper theorises the dystopia as a present event. The temporal and cognitive shift from heading towards the dystopia to being in the dystopia has a number of important implications for law and jurisprudence. Importantly, a dystopic approach to law challenges the assumed neutrality of law, lawyers and the academy instead inviting greater examination of the power relations that structure society. Whilst this account resonates with many legal researchers working within a social justice framework understanding the present as dystopic gives their work greater urgency (itself a temporal device). This keynote maps out the nature and parameters of dystopias before drawing out the ethical implications of practicing and studying law within the dystopia.
Dr Faith Gordon is an Associate Professor in Law and Deputy Associate Dean of Research at the ANU College of Law, The Australian National University. Faith is the Director of the Interdisciplinary International Youth Justice Network which she established in 2016 and a co-founder and co-moderator of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology’s Thematic Group on children, young people and the criminal justice system. She is also an Associate Research Fellow at the Information Law & Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London and Justice and Technoscience Lab, School of Regulation and Global Governance. Faith has international expertise and research experience in youth justice; media representations; children’s rights; criminal law; digital technologies; online harms and media regulation. Faith is one of the lead children’s rights trainers for the Diplomacy Training Programme in Australia and she convenes Criminal Law and Procedure and the Youth Law Clinics (partnered with Legal Aid ACT) at the ANU.
Faith’s first sole-authored monograph: Children, Young People and the Press in a Transitioning Society: Representations, Reactions and Criminalisation, was published as part of the Socio-Legal Series, Palgrave Macmillan in 2018. She has co-edited with Dr Dan Newman, collections on Leading Works in Law and Social Justice for Routledge’s Leading Works in Law series (2021) and Access to Justice in Rural Communities: Global Perspectives (Hart, 2023). Faith has extensively published peer-reviewed articles and book reviews as well as book chapters in edited collections. She also sits on a number of international editorial boards, such as Communications Law; Law, Technology and Humans and Common Law World Review Journal.
Faith has recently published on the topics of lifelong anonymity and pre-charge identification of minors in the digital age. Her research on police release of children’s images has been referred to by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2015), in the Northern Ireland High Court, the UK Court of Appeal (2019) and the Youth Court in Aotearoa New Zealand (2021). Faith’s research on online harms was referred to by the UK Joint Committee on Draft Online Safety Bill, House of Lords (2021).
Abstract: Deus ex machina: Children, Online Harms and the theme of ‘Rescue’
In the context of children in literature, Deus ex machina and the theme of ‘rescue’ have been long been utilised in literature. For instance, William Golding employed Deus ex machina in his famous Lord of the Flies, whereby a group of children stranded on an island are rescued by a naval officer who is passing by the island. The naval officer saves one of the young boys, Ralph, from a terrible fate. Charles Dicken’s employed it in Oliver Twist, where Rose Maylie turns out to be the long-lost sister of Oliver’s mother and when Rose marries Harry, her long-time sweetheart, this in turn allows Oliver to live with Mr. Brownlow. Adult social constructions of children have long positioned them as vulnerable and in need of protection, this in many ways denies children agency. This paper draws on a body of qualitative data from interviews with children, young people, senior police, educators, safeguarding experts, youth workers, victim support service providers, tech and gaming companies, regulators, and representatives from the wider tech industry. The keynote paper will explore the theme of ‘rescue’ in the context of ongoing debates on online harms legislation, policy reforms and practice. It will argue that often adults’ preoccupation with ‘rescue’, can deny children the opportunity to have a voice and to contribute.