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

What’s interesting these days?

A few New Things


This seems neat – UK organization “Just Fair” (one of the people behind it is Nottingham Professor Aoife Nolan, aka @commentator01 on twitter) is putting “Austerity on Trial” tonight.  The “charge” is breaching international human rights standards. See here for more information. There are briefs for both sides – an interesting way of gathering attention and bringing people together.  The page has links to scholarship and backgrounders aimed at non scholars including children & young people.

Those who were at or followed last year’s LSA in Hawai’i will remember that there were linked panels on Austerity organized by some stellar UK feminists (see this post from IFLS, Care & Autonomy in the Age of Austerity with lots of links).


2University of Manitoba Law Prof Deb Parkes is putting on a really interesting international conference at Robson Hall (U Man Law) this month, Ending the Isolation: An International Conference on Human Rights and Solitary Confinement see here.  Here is Prof Parkes in Manitoba’s research magazine talking about her work.


3There is a new volume available of the William and Mary Journal of Women & the Law: 2012 Special Issue: Gender and Post-Conflict Transitional Justice on Hein online (sorry,not open access).  Here are a few of the articles:

Introduction: Making the Link between Transitional Justice and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Wallstrom, Margot [former UN special rep on violence in conflict]
19 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 1 (2012) Pp: 1-6

Gender and the Charles Taylor Case at the Special Court for Sierra Leone
Oosterveld, Valerie
19 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 7 (2012) Pp: 7-34

2012 Special Issue: Gender and Post-Conflict Transitional Justice
Dealing with the Past in a Post-Conflict Society: Does the Participation of Women Matter – Insights from Northern Ireland
O’Rourke, Catherine
19 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 35 (2012) Pp: 35-68

2012 Special Issue: Gender and Post-Conflict Transitional Justice
Reparations for Conflict-Related Sexual and Reproductive Violence: A Decalogue
Rubio-Marin, Ruth
19 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 69 (2012) Pp: 69-104




Coming up: Whatcott, Audre Lorde's Legacy (Toronto), Vulnerable Workers Report

Whatcott is finally coming out from the SCC today, after 16 months (usually, cases do not take that long – 12 months is a long time, in fact).  What was it about? You can find factums here the hearing webcast here (lots of interveners, long hearing!) and the lower court decision here.

See the SCC summary :

Human rights – Freedom of conscience and religion – Freedom of expression – Freedom from discrimination – Hate propaganda – Respondent distributing flyers containing crude, harsh and demeaning comments about potential sexual practices of same sex partners – Whether the appellate court was correct in holding that the flyers did not violate s. 14(1)(b)  of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, S.S. 1979, c. S-24.1 (the “Code”) – What is the correct process, and which contextual factors should human rights administrative decision-makers and courts consider, when applying hate propaganda provisions of human rights legislation so that free expression is not unduly limited, the right to be free from discrimination is protected and the State’s obligations to protect citizens from incitement to hate is met - Does “sexual orientation” include sexual practices and, if so, to what extent - Is it possible to “love the sinner, hate the sin” so that hateful messages directed at conduct do not violate hate propaganda provisions of human rights legislation.

The Respondent, on behalf of the Christian Truth Activists, distributed four flyers in the mailboxes of various homes in Saskatoon and Regina in 2001 and 2002. Four persons who received the flyers filed complaints alleging that the material in them “promotes hatred against individuals because of their sexual orientation” in violation of s. 14(1)(b) of the Code. The Applicant appointed a Tribunal to hear the complaints. The Tribunal concluded that the flyers contravened the Code.  The Respondent appealed, arguing that he was exercising his right to freedom of expression and freedom of religion and that the flyers do not violate the Code. Alternatively, he argued that if the materials exhibit hate, it is directed towards sexual behaviour, which is not a prohibited ground. If sexual behaviour is a prohibited ground within the meaning of sexual orientation, he argued that it is overbroad and should be inoperative to the extent that it conflicts with s. 4 and 5 of the Code and s. 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.




Community Arts Practice, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

in association with Women and Gender Studies, University of Toronto Invite you to



FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: #audrelordeslegacy2013

Medicines for Survival: Indigenous Knowledge and the Sacred: a lecture by M. Jacqui Alexander

DATE: Thursday March 7th PLACE: HNES 140, FES, York University TIME: 6 p.m.

Litanies for our Survival: Visual and Performative Conversations with Audre Lorde and inaugural exhibition in new Community Arts Practice Space

DATE: Thursday March 7th PLACE: HNES 283 and throughout the building, FES, York University TIME: 7:30 p.m.

Film screening, Audre Lorde: The Berlin Years 1984-1992 (directed by Dagmar Schultz)  Followed by panel discussion with Dagmar Schultz, Marion Kraft, Gloria Wekker, M. Jacqui Alexander, Carol Allain, Farrah Khan, Bonita Lawrence

[see clip above]

DATE: Friday March 15th  PLACE: William Doo Auditorium, University of Toronto, 45 Willcocks Street  TIME: 6:30 p.m.

Audre Lorde, the highly influential, award winning African-American    lesbian poet came to live in West-Berlin in the 1980s. During her    stay as a visiting professor, she was the mentor and catalyst who    ignited the Afro-German movement. Lorde also had a decisive impact    on white women, challenging them to acknowledge the significance    of their white privilege and learning to deal with difference in constructive    ways.

What’s (Homo)Sexuality got to do with it? Lecture by Gloria Wekker, with responses from Anna Agathangelou and Jin Haritaworn, chaired by Ena Dua

DATE: Tuesday March 19th  PLACE: HNES 140, FES, York University  TIME: 1 p.m.

“After the 9-5 in Audre’s Livingroom” (An intimate, collaborative poetry marathon recite & respond multidisciplinary hangout!)  presented by backforward collective  

DATE: Thursday March 21st PLACE: Whippersnapper Gallery, 594b Dundas St. West TIME: 6 – 11 pm





The Law Commission of Ontario is releasing the Final Report on Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work April 3 10-1130AM at the Law Society of Upper Canada.  Details + RSVP here.  See here for a newspaper piece on the Comission’s work and here for the Consultation Paper, Background Paper  and Interim Report.



Suggested Bookmark: Oxford Human Rights Hub Blog

website-screenshotTravelling is more than just delays and time to read novels on planes.  You have a different kind of conversation with colleagues when you are out of your usual work environment, even if they are still in theirs.  I am going to come home with lots of new how-to ideas about tech, teaching, conferences, what to read (law, fiction, and non-work non-fiction), cats, maps, and other intangible things (thanks to inter alia, Emily Grabham Toni Williams and Kate Bedford of Kent)  Also, of course, new things to read: After hearing about this from Judy Fudge  I have added it to my RSS feeds.  The blog is here. Posts are by professors, students, post-docs, practitioners, and others and there is plenty of gendered (and some critical) commentary.  It looks well run and I look forward to following.

Here’s a bit about the whole Human Rights Hub itself:

The Oxford Human Rights Hub (OxHRH) aims to bring together academics, practitioners and policy-makers from across the globe to advance the understanding and protection of human rights and equality. Through the vigorous exchange of ideas and resources, we strive to facilitate a better understanding of human rights principles, to develop new approaches to policy, and to influence the development of human rights law and practice.

OxHRH is based in the University of Oxford Faculty of Law and is directed by Sandra Fredman, the Rhodes Professor of the Laws of the British Commonwealth and the USA. University of Oxford academics, research students, and visiting academics form the core of our network, while our reach extends to over 20 countries through our growing network of human rights academics, practitioners and policy-makers.

For more information please visit our website at or email OxHRH is also available on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.


Uncomfortable Marriage: Nicola Barker's book & Leckey reviews Joshi on Jotwell

Here at Jotwell, McGill’s Robert Leckey has reviewed London based writer and UCL-affiliated Yuvraj Joshi’s Respectable Queerness.

On Joshi’s reading, and it is a fair one, the push for same-sex marriage has proceeded less by demanding respect than by attempting to demonstrate gay men’s and lesbians’ respectability. The agency associated with respectability is a key analytical insight: while assimilation refers to pressures imposed by the mainstream, respectability gestures to efforts made by gay men and lesbians to remake themselves as worthy of recognition. Think of the factual accounts of model plaintiffs advanced to courts in same-sex marriage litigation, which were advanced in order to establish couples’ stability and heteronormativity.

Check out the review and the original article.

Also touching on the respectability point as part of a much larger development of the feminist critique of same-sex marriage is Dr. Nicola Barker in Not the Marrying Kind: A Feminist Critique of Same-Sex Marriage (Palgrave-MacMillan Socio-Legal Studies 2012)  (not that Nicola Barker, this one, from Kent Law School (UK)).  You can hear her discuss the book here, podcast from Feminist Current. You can also download a sample chapter from the publisher here

Not the Marrying Kind is a new and comprehensive exploration of the contemporary same-sex marriage debates in several jurisdictions including Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. It departs from much of the existing scholarship on same-sex marriage, which argues either for or against marriage for same-sex couples. Instead, this book begins from a critical analysis of the institution of marriage itself (as well as separate forms of relationship recognition, such as civil partnership, PaCS, domestic partnership) and asks whether and how feminist critiques of marriage might be applied specifically to same-sex marriage. In doing this, the author combines the theories of second wave feminism with insights from contemporary queer theory.


A little roundup of reading for reading week

I’ve been neglecting the blogging, again in favour of easy but less satisfying tweets.  Here is a small round up of reading material, for reading week, which at Osgoode is… next week. 

First, this (which is from twitter, so sorry for duplication):  17 Essays by Female Writers That Everyone Should Read what a treasure trove this is. Incls 1 law prof, Ruthann Robson   (a piece that is already on at least one Canadian law school syllabus that I know of).   The list is very america-centric, but it is still a list of 17 essays you might like.  And of course if you don’t, it’s the inspiration for your own list.  These aren’t particularly, or at all, law, but they are examples of well written and thoughtful non fiction – when does that ever get old?

Second,  Jotwell.  If you are looking for things to read, the Jotwell Equality section (Kim Brooks & I are nominally editors to the set of contributors) gives you one new monthly option – check out the other sections for other reads.  This month, Davina Cooper is recommending Erik Swyngedouw, Interrogating post-democratization: Reclaiming egalitarian political spaces, 30(7) Political Geography 370 (2011).  This isn’t light reading, as you can see from the quote below, but both the review and the article deserve a chance.

Swyngedouw suggests democratic political spaces are active moments in constructing new egalitarian spatialities inside and through existing geographies of the police order. These active moments go beyond demands for inclusion that work to sustain a post-political consensus; they go beyond rituals of resistance which leave the police order intact; and they go beyond acts of violence that generate and legitimate, in turn, the reciprocating violence of the state. “Proper politics,” Swyngedouw suggests, involves practices that challenge the symbolic order of the police; it involves designing space as an egalitarian and libertarian field of disagreement, opening up room for other speech acts; and it involves radically re-organizing what can be heard, seen and known. At the same time, politics may take shape as refusal: “I’d prefer not to” — a strategy Swyngedouw argues that is also an invitation to think again, and to form new egalitarian imaginaries. Fundamentally, Swyngedouw argues we need to rethink equality politically – not as a sociological concept which demands policy responses to inequality but as a presupposed condition of democracy.

Third, some books.

I still haven’t ordered Mariana Valverde’s latest (the review in the Globe wasn’t positive, but made me want to read the book): Everyday life on the street: City governance in an age of diversity (Chicago)

Gender, Religion, and Family Law: Theorizing Conflicts between Women’s Rights and Cultural Traditions Eds Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Sylvia Neil out of the Brandeis Project on Gender Culture Religion and the Law.   Here is a link to the Table of Contents, which includes papers by two women working at Canadian law schools Ayelet Shachar and Pascale Fournier.  Lisa Fishbayn Joffe is an Osgoode Alum, too. 

Columbia U P (i’m not using links to online booksellers anymore – a bit late, but I’ll be linking to the presses instead and will encourage the effort to find these at a bricks and mortar store or library….) is republishing 1983’s Scotch Verdict: The Real-Life Story That Inspired “The Children’s Hour”  by Lillian Faderman.  Luckily for me, I drive @lawandlit to the subway and chatter at her the whole way – she was the one who let me know that the “new book” i was curious about was about thirty years old.  Ahem. Anyway, 30 years old means “new to many of us”, I shall claim.  New forward, but it’s not clear whether there’s any new material, so probably not. 

In 1810, a Scottish student named Jane Cumming accused her school mistresses, Jane Pirie and Marianne Woods, of having an affair in the presence of their students. Dame Helen Cumming Gordon, the wealthy and powerful grandmother of the accusing student, advised her friends to remove their daughters from the Drumsheugh boarding school. Within days, the institution was deserted and the two women were deprived of their livelihoods.

Award-winning author Lillian Faderman recreates the events surrounding this notorious case, which became the basis for Lillian Hellman’s famous play, The Children’s Hour. Reconstructing the libel suit filed by Pirie and Woods—which resulted in a scotch verdict, or a verdict of inconclusive/not proven—Faderman builds a compelling narrative from court transcripts, judges’ notes, witnesses’ contradictory testimony, and the prejudices of the men presiding over the case. Her fascinating portrait documents the social, economic, and sexual pressures shaping the lives of nineteenth-century women and the issues of class and gender contributing to their marginalization.

Finally, from the Thesis Whisperer  who is also/really Dr. Inger Mewburn of Australia.  She runs a really amazing site with all kinds of fabulous things for grad students, supervisors, academics…but this time it isn’t one of her great tips or tricks, but rather just a post, about academic assholes.  It serves as both self check (am i doing that?) and many other things (helpful cheat sheet for ranting, “oh, that’s what that was about” reminder after faculty talk, warning about what will happen if you don’t become the solution, fun anthropological approach to academic culture).  Worth a read.  She concludes: “I am deeply uncomfortable with the observation that being an asshole can be advantageous for your career” and asks us all to think about what we can do about it.  She’s on twitter here. If you have grad students, or are a grad student, you might want to have a look.

Here are some other little snippets from Twitter  you might have missed.

Ready to read? Other suggestions welcome.   I am off to Kent and Boalt Hall and  long plane rides = time to read.