Category Archives: What we’re thinking/reading/doing (IFLS blog)

What’s interesting these days?

Mayanthi Fernando at Osgoode on Regulating Intimacy – Religion, Sex and Secular Cunning

Fernando-WebAnthropologist Mayanthi Fernando from UC Santa Cruz gave a very interesting and very well attended talk as part of the Law Religion and Social Thought symposium today (check the website later for the tape, if you missed the talk).

The paper explored tensions in the way that liberal republican France situates and interrogates Muslim women in terms of their religion and their sexuality – both areas typically placed by liberal thought into the “private” arena.  I’m worried about doing it justice so will say only that it will be forthcoming in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 2014 (speaking of, have a look at the set of things forthcoming from Signs in 2013! Set aside some time).

Fernando’s work focuses on the situation of Muslim women in France -“Exceptional Citizens: Secular Muslim Women and the Politics of Difference in France.” Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale 17:3 (2009), pp. 379-392 is perhaps a decently representative choice.  While not focused on law, law takes on a particular significance in her work, perhaps because it is a state forum where attitudes are on display and both demands and claims are made.  In her talk today, she began with two cases to illustrate the tension she sees – first, a marriage annulment involving a Muslim couple (here is a Reuters report) and second, a discrimination claim brought by a Muslim woman told to remove her niqab whilst in the public areas of (ifI recall correctly was) an inn. Fernando focused on how Muslim women in France – particularly but not only those who wear the headscarf or niqab –  are faced (!)  the relatively contradictory demand and compulsion to talk about intimate, “private” aspects of their lives in order to justify themselves as members of the French public, referring to Foucault’s idea  of “incitement to discourse” which can serve a regulatory and categorizing function.

As a scholar working in what is now an interdisciplinary space, Fernando’s work is cited in articles appearing in legal journals and by scholars attached to law schools.  See, for instance:

To ask that we pay greater attention to context, and in particular, to power and material effects, resonates with the work of such scholars as sociologist Dicle Kog˘acıog˘ lu and anthropologists Lila Abu-Lughod
and Mayanthi Fernando, who have all recently argued that particular gendered discourses about Muslim women divert attention from where it should instead be placed: institutional politics (Kog˘acıog˘ lu); history and politics (Abu-Lughod); and structural root causes of social and economic problems (Fernando). While the cases these scholars examine are varied (honor crimes in Turkey, u.s. discourse about women in Afghanistan, and
“secular Muslim women” in France), all point to how gendered discourses about the oppression faced by Muslim women function transnationally to fuel a general vision of Islam as synonymous with the oppression of women,
which absolutely ignores fundamental issues at work.

CFP: Revaluing Care Workshop 2: Caring about Social Interconnection

h/t Doris Buss

ReValuing Care Research Network.

Revaluing Care Workshop 2: Caring about Social Interconnection,

1 – 2 September 2013 University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.

Call for Papers

Following on from the Resourcing Care workshop at Keele University in September 2012, Caring about Social Interconnection will take forward conversations about care from theoretical, conceptual, and empirical perspectives.

We invite papers which critically analyse how care has been, and is being, theorised, imagined and practised across a range of contexts in light of the following questions:

  • How can the normative asymmetry of ‘care’ and ‘dependency’ be revalued to support more productive and egalitarian forms of social interconnection?
  • How do concepts of embodiment, feeling, touch and emotion interact with regulatory and governmental understandings of social interconnectedness?
  • What new perspectives on care, connection and value can be brought to bear through thinking towards future times and spaces?
  • How are academics, activist and advocates able to imagine caring spaces for social connection in the face of austerity measures, the contraction of welfare support and increases in governmental surveillance?

Please submit a title, abstract and bio with contact details to and, by 22 February 2013. Contributors will be notified of acceptance by end April 2013.

Download the Call for Papers (pdf).


A small contribution to help offset the cost of attending the Adelaide workshop will be available to support a limited number of UK participants. To apply for support, please send a 2 page CV and a letter of application by email to by 22 February 2013.

Your letter of application should detail: the amount of support required, any other sources of funding available, the importance of attendance at the Adelaide workshop for your research plans, and the contribution that your research will make to the ReValuing Care network. Applications for financial support must be accompanied by an abstract submission, and be received by 5:00pm GMT on 22 February 2013. Applications for funding will be assessed on the basis of fit with the workshop themes and ‘need’, especially with regard to access to other sources of financial support to attend.

More on Trinity Western University's proposed Law School

For earlier posts on TWU, click here.

Ottawa law Profs Jena McGill, Angela Cameron & others wrote for the National Post… Why Trinity Western University should not have a law school.

The crux of the issue is how the discrimination and institutional environment at TWU impacts the ability of the school to teach law. In order to permit entry into a provincial or territorial law society (as determined by the Federation), the law degree program must meet national standards in its curriculum. Those standards require critical thinking about ethical and legal issues. No person can truly think critically from one pre-determined lens, in this case, a lens mandated by TWU.

The Post has otherwise been publishing a number of pieces arguing the other side.  Here, from Don Hutchinson vice-president and general legal counsel with The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, here, from NP Columnist Johnathan Kay and here a response to McGill, Cameron et al, from Barbara Kay.



Supreme Court of Canada finally releases Eric c Lola

Lola loses.  But looks like there will be an interesting discussion of choice, finally!

Decision here.

I’ve cut and pasted in the way the court split on the constitutional questions.


Held (Deschamps, Cromwell and Karakatsanis JJ. dissenting in part in the result and Abella J. dissenting in the result): The appeals of the Attorney General of Quebec and B should be allowed, and the appeal of A should be dismissed. Articles 401 to 430, 432, 433, 448 to 484 and 585 of the Civil Code of Québec are constitutional.

The constitutional questions should be answered as follows:

1. Do arts. 401 to 430, 432, 433, 448 to 484 and 585 of the Civil Code of Québec, S.Q. 1991, c. 64, infringe s. 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Answers: McLachlin C.J. and Deschamps, Abella, Cromwell and Karakatsanis JJ. would answer yes. LeBel, Fish, Rothstein and Moldaver JJ. would answer no.

2. If so, is the infringement a reasonable limit prescribed by law that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society under s. 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Answers: LeBel, Fish, Rothstein and Moldaver JJ. would answer that it is not necessary to answer this question. McLachlin C.J. would answer yes. Deschamps, Cromwell and Karakatsanis JJ. would answer that only art. 585 is not justified under s. 1. Abella J. would answer no.