Toward a Juris-cultural Studies of Human Rights

Author: John Nguyet Erni, Hong Kong Baptist University
Published: January 22, 2021

Citation: Erni, J. N. (2021). Toward a Juris-cultural Studies of Human Rights. IAFOR Journal of Cultural Studies, 6(SI).


This special issue grew out of an advanced seminar on Cultural Studies that I guest-taught at the National University of Singapore in 2018, where there has been a long-time engagement with interdisciplinary teaching and learning in the field of Cultural Studies through NUS’s Asian Research Institute (and more recently through the university’s Department of Communication and New Media). The essays collected here represent a collection of sincere efforts to reframe political and ethical crises through a unified framework that can be called juris-cultural studies of law and rights. By “juris-cultural,” I refer to a genre of critical cultural analysis that investigates the mutually constitutive nature of law and culture, through dissecting “law as culture” in which cultural signifying practices are traceable to the presence or absence of legal norms, as well as through “culture as law” in which the contested meanings of cultural communities, their practices and politics, can shape or even dictate social norms and regulations. It is both a political language and a method that avoids separating law and culture but confronts their uneasy entanglements. The essays are united by a common critical method of combining critical legal theory with a cultural critique of law. Each essay centers on a particular court case, and performs critical reading of the legal logics and reasoning alongside a broader attention to social and cultural ideologies and power relations that overdetermine the outcome of the court judgment. The insights produced by such a method will hopefully present to readers an innovative approach adequate to the task of bringing the problems of rights, legal subjectivities, and critical justice squarely to the doorsteps of Cultural Studies.


law as culture as law, juris-cultural studies, human rights, conjunctural analysis of court cases