Doris Sommer


While academic humanists today feel besieged by budget cuts and are

increasingly resentful of students and colleagues who prefer more "useful" work, and thereby deepen the cuts, constitutional lawyers in Bogota, Colombia, are seeking us humanists out, specifically a group coordinated by the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University. This is a case of the law appealing to art in order to fulfill duties; and it presents a complement to other cases we have seen in which art chooses to tease the law in order to achieve its irreverent effects. To be really useful in upholding the Law of Victims, Colombian legal theorists call on humanists and artists to help interpret new legislation that guarantees comprehensive human rights to victims of armed conflict. How many other opportunities exist for the arts and public policy to suture wounds to our body politic? This is not a rhetorical question, but an appeal for a collaborative research agenda.