Thing theories, object-human recursion, and materiality already seem familiar and domesticated. All to the good, as it’s often not until the fickle winds of theoretical fashion shift that the most serious work can begin. We are still just scratching the surface in discerning and understanding the agencies or other capacities of things, and their limits—whether theorizing them, understanding their implications from different disciplinary perspectives, or documenting their configurations in the world. Many of this issue’s essays undertake the reckoning of things and the challenges they pose of value, risk, calculation, and commensurability. None of the essays are predictable, none follow well-worn paths.
CSSH has been host to an impressive gathering of essays on the cultural and historical aspects of law. During the last decade, we have published influential pieces on Islamic law, on states and their jurisdictions, on spaces beyond the law, on legal practitioners, criminals, police, and prisons.
Bart Klem and Sidharthan Manauguru reflect on the experiences and research that informed the writing of their CSSH essay, “Insurgent Rule as Sovereign Mimicry and Mutation: Governance, Kingship, and Violence in Civil Wars”.
Mischa Suter and Ceyda Karamursel in Conversation: Maintaining a clear ontological demarcation between persons and things is arduous work, as Latour and others remind us. It requires classification work, purification work, boundary work, language work, social work, and more. Even so, certain historical contexts and situations have rendered the clear line fuzzy, and persons and things remained thoroughly entangled.
Karen Hébert, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada