Judicial Images
Production, Management and Consumption

‘Naked and Veiled: Law’s Culture of Confrontation’

Time: 6:00pm on Thursday 2nd October, 2014

Location: Senior Common Room, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London TW1 4SX


Issues of law and dress receive a great deal of coverage in popular media and the press. There is concern over dress in court: “I am not in favour of barristers or judges wearing wigs. My main objection is that they are men’s wigs” (Baroness Hale, The Guardian, 2nd October 2013); “Muslim woman must remove veil to give trial evidence” (BBC, September 2013); “Judge criticises lawyer for ‘Harry Potter’ appearance” (BBC, August 2014). There is concern with having too little clothing in public: “‘Naked rambler’ Stephen Gough loses High Court appeal” (BBC, October 2013) and concern with having too much: “European Court upholds French full veil ban”(BBC, July 2014). There is nothing fundamentally new in this news. The relationship, cooperative and confrontational, between dress and political life goes back to the earliest founding myths of civil society. Accordingly, if we are to understand the reaction of civil authorities to such matters as public nudity and public face-covering, we will need to look beyond the usual analyses based on the balancing of individuals’ civil rights and responsibilities. We need to appreciate the cultural causes that make confrontation inevitable in the first place. What our inquiry will reveal is that the law demonstrates anxiety when individuals attempt to perform their own public face, through personal modes of dress and undress, in the liminal space of dress that the law takes to be a locus of its own dominion.

This event is free and open to all members of the public.

Contact: For more information or to register your attendance please contact Dr Thomas Giddens at thomas.giddens@smuc.ac.uk.