Prof. Dr. Laurent de Sutter

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Curriculum Vitae

Laurent de Sutter studied Law at the Law School of the Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis (Brussels) and at Université Catholique de Louvain. He obtained a Master’s degree in Legal Theory at the European Academy of Legal Theory in Brussels in 2001 and a DEA in Sociology of Law at Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas in 2002, before he received his PhD at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel with a thesis on “Politiques de la représentation” in 2006. Since 2002, Laurent de Sutter has been working at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, first as a junior researcher and since 2006 as a senior researcher. For his work, he has received several research grants, inter alia from the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek - Vlaanderen (FWO). From 2010 until 2013, Laurent de Sutter was a lecturer in legal theory at the Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis, and was a Visiting Honorary Research Fellow at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, New York, in 2011. Since 2012, he is Professor of Legal Theory at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Moreover, Professor de Sutter is Managing Editor of the series “Perspectives Critiques” (Presses Universitaires de France) and “Theory Redux” (Polity Press), a member of the editorial board of “Décalages: An Althusser Studies Journal” and of “Law & Literature”, as well as a member of the scientific council of the Collège International de Philosophie (Paris). From October 2014 to September 2015, Laurent de Sutter was Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture”.

Research Project

The Poetics of Police

The purpose of the present project is to provide room for the very first research ever attempted on the critical comparison of the cultural concept of police, as it may be observed at work in the Civil (France), Common (United States) and Confucian (China, Japan) legal traditions. If the field of Police Studies has been blossoming in the recent years, its core object has remained strictly institutional: the analysis (critical or not) of the institutional functioning and practice of the police as a body. But there is more to police than a mere body: there is an idea reflecting the type of legal system that it aims to enforce, and, beyond legal dispositions, the culture from which this system is the legal expression. It is the goal of this project to try to understand what the concept of police means in three different legal cultures, and how this meaning manifests not only the actual contents, but also the very structure of these cultures and their respective mode of thought. In order to do so, a specific tool will be used: a substantial corpus of movies, shot between 1960 and today, and belonging to the three traditions on which the present project will be focusing. The epistemological hypothesis behind the choice of a medium of artistic expression in the task of trying to understand a cultural-legal phenomenon is that, through this medium, the common, Police Studies understanding of what police is might give room to a more refined, more sophisticated one. Films never simply are mere illustration of a state of affairs: beyond their explicit message they embody a latent expression of the cultural truth underlying this state of affairs – be it legal, political, or aesthetical. And this truth is the truth of what Jacques Rancière calls ‘the distribution of sensible’: the violence of the division of space and of the attribution of places in a given society – and what this violence excludes from it. It is the representation of the role of police as performing these divisions and this process of attribution that the present project aims at exploring through the media of film.

Selected Publications

  • Après la loi (“After Law”), Paris: PUF, “Perspectives Critique” series (ed. by Laurent de Sutter), forthcoming.
  • Zizek & Law (ed.), London: Routledge, “Nomikoi: Critical Legal Thinkers” series (ed. by Peter Goodrich and David Seymour), 2015.
  • Métaphysique de la putain (“Metaphysics of the Whore”), Paris: Léo Scheer, “Variations” series (ed. by Léo Scheer) 2014.
  • Théorie du trou. Cinq médiations métaphysiques sur “Une sale histoire” de Jean Eustache (“Theory of the Hole: Five Metaphysical Meditations on Jean Eustache’s ‘Une sale histoire’”), Paris: Léo Scheer, “Variations” series (ed. by Léo Scheer) 2013.
  • Althusser & Law (ed.), London: Routledge, “Nomikoi: Critical Legal Thinkers” series (ed. by Peter Goodrich and David Seymour) 2013.
  • Contre l’érotisme (“Against Eroticism”), Paris: La Musardine, “L’attrape-corps” series (ed. by Sarah Chiche) 2011.
  • Deleuze. La pratique du droit (“Deleuze. The Practice of Law”), Paris: Michalon, “Le bien commune” series (ed. by Antoine Garapon) 2009 (translated into Italian: Deleuze e la pratica del diritto, Verona: Ombre Corte 2011; Brazilian and English translations forthcoming).
  • De l'indifférence à la politique (“On the Indifference to Politics”), Paris, PUF, “Perspectives Critiques” (ed by. Roland Jaccard) 2008.
  • Pornostars. Fragments d’une métaphysique du X (“Pornstars. Fragments of a Metaphysics of X-Rated Movies”), Paris: La Musardine, “L’attrape-corps” series (ed. by Serge Koster) 2007.