Document and Contract

Kent Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality

3 April 2014

A Pop-Up Workshop



Venue: Rm EX7, Kent Law School, Eliot College, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent  CT2 7NS

Time: 10.30am – 1pm


In our cultures “paper shuffling” is the source of an essential power, that constantly escapes attention since its materiality is ignored.

Bruno Latour, “Visualisation and Cognition: Drawing Things Together” in H. Kuklick (ed.) Knowledge and Society: Studies in the Sociology of Culture Past and Present, Jai Press vol. 6 (1986), p.26


…the habit of ignoring material instantiation of text or image…The celebration of transparency, in which physicality and materiality are wished away, is a pernicious practice rooted in the worst sort of denial or denigration of our embodied condition.  

 Johanna Drucker, “Entity to Event: From Literal, Mechanistic Materiality to Probabilistic Materiality”, Parallax 15:4 (2009), 7-8.

No contract is capable of, or has an interest in, systematically suppressing all connections, burning all bridges or eliminating the dual nature of every element involved. Which is why the heterogeneous elements, that are linked together in order to frame the contract and its performance, in reality take part in its overflowing: and it is precisely because they are sources of overflows that they make the contract productive.

Michel Callon,  ‘Introduction: The Embeddedness of Economic Markets in Economics’, in M. Callon (ed.)  The Laws of the Market. Oxford: Blackwells/Sociological Review, 1998, 225.

The original contract has at least three interrelated dimensions: (1) the social contract … (2) the sexual contract, and (3) the racial contract. 

Carole Pateman,  ‘Interview with Carole Pateman: The Sexual Contract, Women in Politics, Globalization and Citizenship’, Feminist Review 70 (2002): 126.

This event is taking place at the Kent Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality, University of Kent. Lisa Adkins and Maryanne Dever will lead a discussion-based workshop session examining questions of materiality, method, endurance and transformation with respect to the document and/or the contract. Attendees are asked to speak for up to five minutes about something they have found that is revealing of the historicity and/or capacities of the document or the contract. This may be a particular artefact, empirical instance or provocative question, but should open up questions and debate. A small selection of background readings will be available for prior circulation to attendees.