Posts Tagged ‘Body modification’

Next HEAL seminar: Sam Walker, ‘The Sword of Damocles: Criminal Law’s Shadow Over Contemporary Body Modification Practices’, Wed 22 April 4-5pm

In 2015, Meetings on April 17, 2015 at 1:12 pm

The next HEAL Seminar will be held on Wednesday, 22 April 2015, from 4pm in Room 04/4053. Sam Walker (University of Manchester) will be speaking on The Sword of Damocles: Criminal Law’s Shadow Over Contemporary Body Modification Practices. All welcome. Any questions: please email heal@soton.ac.uk. 


I seek to demonstrate that the formal legal system is in conflict with the contemporary social practice of body modification. I will show that the social practice of body modification meets the definition of a convention as stated by David Lewis to which two attendant secondary conventions exist; one relating to the conduct of law enforcement agents and the other relating to the role of medicalisation. This leads, I will argue, to the existence of two conflicting normative systems which have only avoided conflict due to the presence of the two secondary conventions (primarily the one relating to enforcement). As a result of the potential for conflict between these two systems, due to the expansion of body modification techniques and technology, one or the other of them should be amended. I argue that the law concerning assault should be amended to explicitly permit body modification as a lawful activity.

Next HEAL event: Extreme Body Modification: At the Limits of Individual Liberty

In 2014, Meetings on February 25, 2014 at 11:55 am

Our next HEAL event will be on Wednesday 5 March, with Sam Walker on ‘Extreme Body Modification: At the Limits of Individual Liberty’. We’ll be in room 3007/4 (Highfield), from 3-5pm. All welcome.

Abstract Body modification occupies an ambiguous place within the offences of assault. This presentation will outline the law of assault and how it relates to body modification with the aim of considering how to clarify the law on body modification activities. Initially a classification of body modification will be stated in order to provide the context in which the law of assault would apply. In this context the focus will be on assault that is intentional, causes an injury, wound or harm to a consenting adult and that is non-therapeutic. Following this the features and case law of assault will be analysed which will draw out the ambiguities of these offences and relate them to body modification. These ambiguities relate to the exceptions to assault and how they are construed in particular the concepts of ‘good reason’ and public interest. Having highlighted these issues the potential problems of trying to include body modification as an exception to the offence of assault will be discussed with a view to identifying a ‘solution’ to the equivocal status of body modification. This presentation is intended to be the initial phase of a larger and longer term research project by contextualising and identifying the relevant issues and problems.

As usual, please let Adrian know at A.M.Viens@soton.ac.uk if you wish to attend.