The Quilliam Club

a Newcastle-upon-Tyne based legal reading group

A farewell.

Regretfully, and probably unsurprisingly given the extensive delay between recordings, the members of Quilliam Club have struggled to find the time to continue the project, and are putting it on indefinite hold.

Many thanks to those of you who have listened and participated – we have very much enjoyed our time as a legal reading group.

-The QC


November 2015

(c) Campaign against Euro Federalism

This session of Quilliam club considers both elements of the theme of “identity and technology” in two senses, private identity (bodily features) and public identity (citizenship) and how the distinction between the two is being collapsed at the juncture of border spaces as Foucauldian technologies of control which make increasing use of biometric technology. To set up this discussion, we consider Benjamin Muller’s concerns over the introduction of biometric technology to border spaces a decade ago (Benjamin J. Muller (2004) ‘(Dis)qualified bodies – securitization, citizenship and identity management’, Citizenship Studies 279-294) and examine how these concerns have played out as the technology of biometric borders matures (Btihaj Ajana (2012) ‘Biometric citizenship’, Citizenship Studies, 851-870).

As ever, we’ll be considering these articles in light of three framing questions, set out by Colin Murray:

  • Is the human body, central to personal identity, becoming increasingly important to official efforts to distinguish between desirable and undesirable individuals?
  • Is “biometric citizenship” a manifestation of “neoliberal citizenship”?
  • Has the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis in Europe exploded the myth that biometrics can maintain a “Fortress Europe” immigration regime?

The regular Q-Clubbers have recorded a podcast on these questions, now available for download and streaming below.

October 2015

(c) The Wellcome Collection

Summer is over, and the Quilliam Club will be back to a more regular schedule of podcasting and discussing.  This month, Aisling McMahon has selected the following two articles for us to read:

  • Hub Zwart, ‘Genomics and identity: the bioinformatisation of human life’ (2009) 12(2) Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 125-136
  • Victoria Chico, ‘Requiring genetic knowledge: a principled case for support’ (2015) 35(3) Legal Studies 532-560.

She will be leading a discussion on these pieces around the following three questions:

  1. Zwart’s article argues that ‘bioinformatics is having an impact on how we define and understand ourselves, how identities are formed and constituted, and, finally, on how we (on the basis of these redefined identities) assess and address some of the more concrete societal issues involved in genomics governance in various settings.’ To what extent and in what ways does genomics research influence our conception of human ‘identity’?
  2. Chico’s article focuses on the UK’s 100,000 genome project – an example of the use of personal genetic information in the healthcare context – however, to what extent should individuals have a ‘right not to know’ about incidental findings which may arise in such studies?
  3. Reflecting on both Zwart’s and Chico’s articles,  what role does/should law have in safeguarding individual’s informational sphere or an individual’s ‘right not to know’ genetic information about themselves?

Once more, the regular members of the Quilliam Club have recorded a short podcast of this discussion, now available for streaming and downloading below.

July 2015

Identity and Technology

(c) Mobility Digest, 2011.

Welcome to the first of our reading assignments for the 2015-2016 Quilliam Club on Identity and Technology.  In July, we will be tackling Norberto Andrade’s 2012 piece for the Revista De Internet, Derecho Y Politica (IPD, Vol 13, pp 122-137) titled “Oblivion: The Right to Be Different… from Oneself // Reproposing the Right to be Forgotten”.  Dr. Andrade, at the time of writing this piece, was a policy analyst at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (Directorate: Institute for Prospective Technological Studies) at the time that the EC was developing a proposal for a new General Data Protection Regulation; this piece works as a potential piece of insight into just what considerations underpinned the Commission’s proposal for the since controversial “right to be forgotten”.

Sylvia de Mars will be leading a discussion on this piece centred on the following three questions:

  1. Consider Andrade’s analysis of the right to privacy as separate from the right to identity.  Is there merit to this approach to what is traditionally seen as a single tort (ie, identity is a part of privacy), and if so, why?
  2. Is absolute control over our identity or identity formation possible?  Is it desirable?
  3. What are the normative considerations that, in your view, should apply to a right to forgotten?  (Ie, prejudice/harm as a standing principle; societal norms in terms of ‘second chances’; a sheer distancing from past behavior or opinion on account of the passage of time…)  Is the term ‘forgetting’ helpful when considering technology?

Once more, the regular members of the Quilliam Club have recorded a short podcast of this discussion, now available for streaming and downloading below.  (We use the word “short” in the descriptive sense – we had a lot of thoughts, hence the nearly hour-long take!)

June 2015

TH Marshall

(c) Howard Coster, 1944, National Portrait Gallery

Belatedly, on account of holidays and illness, we did not reconvene for Take 2 of TH Marshall until June 2015 – and on account of technical issues, we did not manage to record second discussion of Citizenship and Social Class.  It proved an appropriate capstone to our year of considering issues surrounding ‘citizenship’ in detail, however, as this revisiting of a sociological ‘classic’ on modern citizenship emphasized a significant number of the problems we uncovered in our reading over the last year.  The explicit acknowledgement of ‘community’ as the substance of citizenship (more so than its rights) that Marshall stresses throughout is almost entirely absent in modern legal-style ‘citizenship’, which is almost sterile in relative comparison; we agreed, though to differing degrees, that citizenship has extreme normative value but is easily ‘used’ and has been fostered as a concept by the ruling class to create a culture of mistrust of the outsider.

Going from a ‘collective’ concept to a potentially more ‘individual’ one, we agreed that our next common theme for reading will be “Identity and Technology“.  This loose title is there to capture all reading that (inter alia) considers how advances in technology change our conceptions of self, our control over said conception, and the extent to which and the ways in which law can potentially function as a bridge between the ideal and the reality.  The next session will hopefully take place in July and actually be recorded – details to follow.

February 2015

(c) Global Centre for Advanced Studies.

This month, we will be reading two pieces that tackle an issue that has arisen in most if not all of our reading on citizenship to date: how to get round the exclusionary aspects of community. Continental philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy is one of the names that surfaces regularly in trying to investigate this particular side of community; to delve into his thoughts, we are reading first Ignaas Devisch’s account of Nancy and MacIntyre on Community, as presented in Chapter 1 of his 2013 work Jean-Luc Nancy and the Question of Community (Bloomsbury), and second, Michael J. Shapiro’s “National Times and Other Times: Rethinking Citizenship” (Cultural Studies, (2000) 14(1), pages 79-98), which uses a Nancy lens to interrogate Israel’s citizenship laws.

The reading was selected by Colin Murray, who led a discussion of it on the 16th of February.  As usual, the regular members of the Quilliam Club have recorded a short podcast of this discussion, now available for streaming and downloading below.

As an added note: the Quilliam Club is taking a break until May 2015, for reasons of research leave of a lot of its core members.  It will return in May 2015 with a re-visiting of the first piece read on citizenship (TH Marshall’s “Citizenship and Social Class”), before moving on to a new area of common exploration.  To be continued!

January 2015

Following a break for the holiday season, we are returning in January with a discussion around citizenship and its particular rights and/or duties that may arise in the context of health.

(c) Johns Hopkins, 2007.

To enable this, we will be reading two chapters (3, pp. 20-38 and 5, pp. 46-53) by Barbara Prainsack and Alena Buyx in the 2011 Nuffield Council report “Solidarity: reflections on an emerging concept in bioethics” in order to “set the scene”: chapter 3 gives a broad overview of some of the literature in the bioethical literatures on the concept of ‘solidarity’, and chapter 5 offers the authors own new proposal for ‘solidarity’ in the bioethics context.  Following this, we will delve into John Harris’s 2005 article “Scientific Research is a moral duty” (Journal of Medical Ethics, vol 31, pp. 242-248) and chapter 7 (pp. 68-78) of the Prainsack and Buyx report, to investigate solidarity and the duties of citizenship in more detail.

The reading was selected by Aisling McMahon, who will be leading a discussion about it centered on the following three questions:

  1. To what extent should citizens have a duty to contribute or participate (in this context to aspects of medical research)in order to receive benefits of citizenship?
  2. How does ‘solidarity’ as a concept fit within theories on citizenship, and to what extent can duties of citizenship be justified using this theoretical basis?
  3. How should/do concepts of solidarity and also citizenship duties operate beyond the Nation State?

The regular members of the Quilliam Club have recorded a short discussion on these three questions, now available for both streaming and downloading below.