| Dr Bela Chatterjee
Lecturer in Law
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Dr Bela Chatterjee//Publications
Certain thematics are central to my work: identity, gender, sexuality/sexual expression and cyberspace. My research has consistently focused on these issues, separately or in combination, with an emphasis on transdiciplinary interpretations and theoretical frameworks. I have sought to draw on insights from relevant related bodies of work in non-legal areas of academia, most often cyberstudies and cyberculture, but also sociology, criminology, gender and sexuality studies/women's studies, geography, cartography and architecture, materials design, cryptopgrahy and cryptanalysis, urban studies, literature and criminology, in order to bring breadth and depth of analysis to the law from a unique perspective.
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The Lady Vanishes: This article, written for the special edition of the AFLJ edited by Elena Loizidou and Sara Ramshaw, engages with the theme of writing the legal body from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on elements of cryptography and gender theory to consider how the virtual body might appear in the context of writing the legal body. The article considers why writing the body might be important for feminists in a legal setting, and whether the virtuality of the virtual body might complicate this question. Thinking through the methods and theory of writing the body, the article proposes that the virtual body in law might be fruitful for feminist legal theorists, despite the latter's grounding in embodiment.
Text and Terrain: This article explores the intersection between law, texts and sexuality by drawing on elements of theoretical and critical cartography, in particular the work of Denis Cosgrove, Christian Jacob, J. B. Harley and Mark Monmonier. Using the figure of the map where text and terrain meet, this article seeks to explore how sexuality is mapped within and without the law through cultural texts, and how alternative mappings might be explored. It argues that in order to navigate the texts and terrains of law and sexuality, a knowledge of maps and mapping is desirable and instructive.
Razorgirls and Cyberdykes: Tracing Cyberfeminism: This article appeared in a special edition of the International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies devoted to exploring representations of LGBT people and communities on the Web. Quoting Silver, the editor of the special edition Jonathan Alexander argued that 'critical exploration of how sexuality and cyber-techologies interact and impact on one another is still in its academic infancy' (p. 81) hence the need for a specifically focused and interdisciplinary effort to engage with these questions. My article offered a socio-legal perspective on how the emergent - but separate - fields of cyberstudies and cyberlaw might be brought together in a critical fashion through the use of a third emergent, cyberfeminism, in order to consider questions of embodiment, of gendered relationships with technology, and the effects of cyberspace on queer issues such as identity, gender and sexuality.
Cybercities: Under Construction: In Law and the City Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos has brought together an international range of academics, each offering a critique of the entanglements between law and their chosen world city. Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos describes (p. 10) this conjuncture as the 'lawscape: neither a tautology nor a simple disciplinary coincidence, lawscape is the ever-receeding horizon of prior invitation by the one (the law/the city) to be conditioned by the other (the city/the law). It is the topos where logos and polis are fused in an embrace of escaping distance.' In my contribution, I explore arguably the world's most imminent and unmapped city: the cyber city, with no physical referent, few descriptors, and a volatile/anarchic populace. Drawing on diverse bodies of work such as architecture, cyberstudies, urban studies, materials science and design, I chart the de(con)struction of the city from a place of materiality to immateriality, and the subsequent transformation of law in such a digital space through Lawrence Lessig's concept of 'code' as a new juridical architecture. Turning my focus to the inhabitants of cybercity, I consider the sexed and gendered aspects of the cyber city in terms of the virtual red light district, and how law might translate here, in this context. This is a deliberate attempt to contribute a specifically politicised reading of cyberlaw, which is overwhelmingly lacking from most commentaries. As Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos explains, 'Bela Chatterjee's Cyber City ploughs lines of information grids where sex workers protect themselves from both physical street dangers, and from the law itself [...] utopia can turn dystopia at the click of a mouse'. (p.16)
Different Space, Same Place: Feminist Perspectives on Contract Law, edited by Mulcahy and Wheeler, offered a thematic feminist critique of contract law as a much-needed counterpoint to the ubiqitous and masculinist classical/neo-classical view. My chapter contributed a feminist analysis of contracts in cyberspace, most usually uncritically conceptualised in mainstream analyses as legitimate commercial transactions. Challenging the recent (yet already-orthodox) view of cybercontracts as ungendered, my chapter considered the position of women, contracts and cyberspace, and in particular, women's role as consumers and consumed, in the context of sexual services. Contracts for sex and sexual services go largely un-noticed in traditional contractual doctrine, with no exception for e-commerce, and this chapter explicitly sought to argue otherwise.
Pixels, Pimps and Prostitutes: Human Rights in the Digital Age, edited by Mathias Klang and Andrew Murray, was a groundbreaking text which brought together an international group of experts with expertise in the area of law and technology to interrogate the interface between law, technology and human rights. My chapter opened the volume with a discussion on the human rights aspects of the cyber sex trade, in particular new forms of trafficking. Drawing on the work of Donna Hughes, I catalogue the ways in which new technology can and is been used paradoxically to facilitate women's sexual liberation and exploitation. Focusing on the latter, and critically examining several national and international human rights related provisions intended to help and support women in the sex trade, I conclude that whilst these efforts are laudable, they fall short of meeting the new challenges posed by cybertechology, and the real needs of vulnerable women trafficked through cyberspace.
Last of the Rainmacs: 'Rainmacs' formed part of one of the earliest collections on cybercrime; Crime and the Internet, edited by David S. Wall. As Wall argues in the preface to the collection, 'in the first years of the new millenium, the questions about what cybercrimes are, what their impact will be and how we should respond to them remain largely unanswered: the time for understanding is now.' (p. xi) Drawing on elements of cyberstudies and cultural studies, my chapter aims to trace some of the changes that cyberspace has wrought on pornography, asking what new forms of pornography have emerged, and how they might be understood by contemporary postfeminist debates, postfeminism on this understanding being feminism informed by, but critically engaging with, postmodernist and poststructuralist theories.
This Section lists miscellaneous works such as interviews, published conference proceedings and research reports.
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