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In September Fernando Gómez Herrero, a Teaching Associate in the Department of Modern Languages at Birmingham, attended the Catastrophe Critical Legal Conference  (1st-3rd of September 2017) at the University of Warwick. He gave a paper entitled “Baroque Catastrophe Now? Space and Power and Carl Schmitt” and here writes about his paper and the conference.

The 2017 Critical Legal Conference was hosted by the University of Warwick. This year, the general theme explored was catastrophe and covered areas like Natural disasters and the effects of climate change in the anthropocene. 

Paper Presented: Baroque Catastrophe Now? Space and Power and Carl Schmitt. 

Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) has been a strong point of reference among social scientists and "humanists" from the Right and the Left in the last two-to-three decades, at least in continental Europe and intellectual circles in the United States, or the North Atlantic. Why the rebirth and persistence?

My presentation framed Schmitt in the first and second half of the 20th century and set him up against diverse scholars and traditions of (political) interpretation in different countries. I focused on the recent publication titled Dialogues on Power and Space (Polity, 2015; original complete Spanish edition of 1962 published by the Instituto de Estudios Políticos, Madrid, translated by Schmitt's daughter, Anima Schmitt de Otero (1931-1983). Schmitt's strong Spain connection found its place in this presentation before and during the long Franco Regime (1939-1975).

I addressed the basic meaning of these aforementioned nouns included in the title of the paper, and I also addressed the dialogic structure of this late text, likely to be private family entertainment and also as mini-radio program to be broadcast at least in post-WWII Germany. We are dealing with demanding scholarship about the brutal realtiies of politics and also with domains of “entertaining” popular culture.

I used "Baroque" in the common lax sense of the term, confusing and complex, excessively ornate and "messy," but also in relation to historical times of European absolutism, inspirational period of modernity for Schmitt. The theme of "catastrophe" is used in the conventional sense of "great destruction," but also in the sense of dramatic resolution, imagined, artistic or not, of major forces in superlative conflict before and after World War II. Why does any of this matter? Schmittian influence reaches us today in relation to the future of the Liberal World Order and its alternatives whether in Western Europe, including Britain, the U.S. and beyond.