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Ms Katariina Kaura-aho
University of Helsinki

The paper focuses on aesthetic revolutions in current refugee regimes by analyzing the political end points of the sensibility of refugee law. By using Rancière’s philosophy and his theorization of aesthetics of politics, the paper reflects on the interruptive, subversive effect of refugees’ acts of resistance on the stabilized aesthetic sensibility of refugee regimes and interprets how refugee activism challenges the prevailing symbolic constitution of political communities. The concept of aesthetics here refers to emotional and cognitive sensibility and to the imaginative sphere.

The analysis focuses on the aftermath of political protests and reflects in particular on the certain end moment of silence and blindness void of conceptual explanation, where the grasp for meaning takes place in the instancy after the forcefully imposed vision of a protest act. In this passing moment of hesitation, the audience of the act is prevented from intuitive recourse to conventional juridical categories to absolve them from sense of responsibility and from easily dissolving the cognitive and emotional dissonance caused by the act. The aesthetic function of sorrow and rage expressing protests is to cause collective hesitation, to prolong it and ultimately bring about a lasting overthrow of a particular aesthetic police order.

The paper interprets the revolutionary potential of refugee activism in current aesthetic contexts of statism and representative democracy. Refugee protests are analyzed as emergences of “revolutionary spirit”, the persistent reoccurrence of which recreates the subversive space of hesitation that keeps open potential for continual revolutions in the sensibility of law and politics.

I am a third-year doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki. I am doing my doctoral research in legal theory and the working title of my doctoral thesis is: “The Right to Have Rights”: The Refugee as a Subject of Rights and as a Partaker in Democratic Politics. My research focuses on legal and political theory and philosophy but my overall approach is interdisciplinary and my research project includes socio-legal research as well. My research interests include i.a. the relation between rights and politics, legal subjecthood, political action, political resistance, citizenship, representation, radical democracy, agonism, the theory, law and practice of human rights and the philosophy of rights.

A link to my profile page: https://researchportal.helsinki.fi/en/persons/katariina-kaura-aho

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