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

What’s interesting these days?


First annual international conference
York University, Toronto, Canada
May 3-5 2013

The purpose of this conference is to bring together researchers whose interests in the digital economy are positioned at the intersection of social media and the engaged university. Social media enable social interaction through connectivity on the Internet, and therefore lend themselves to any and all aspects of social communication, including those at the university. Given that social media (Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) are very popular and ubiquitous, it is advantageous to submit their use in universities to a close scrutiny. The main aim of the conference, therefore, is to analyze, discuss, and answer the following four questions:
1. Can universities substantially change the manner in which they achieve their mission by using social media?
2. What are the opportunities, impacts, and challenges of social media on the workings of the university?
3. How innovative and effective is the use of social media for the purposes of research, teaching, and administration in a university setting?
4. Do social media have a critical function in the mobilization and dissemination of knowledge?
The specific themes which prospective participants may wish to address include but are not limited to:
(1) Teaching/learning and social media
Pedagogical strategies across disciplines; Transformative nature of social media in the classroom; Panacea/problem for large and small classes; Acquisition of digital skills in higher education and how they contribute to student learning outcomes; Student engagement with specific subject matter through social media; Professional schools and social media
(2) University administration and social media
Implications for recruitment and retention; University Web site vs. presence on Facebook/Twitter of University for marketing, recruitment, and other strategies; Expanding access to education; Role of the alumni and university-community partnerships
(3) Research and social media
Social media and the humanities, social sciences, arts, and sciences; Social media and the promotion of research collaboration; Conducting and assessing research in and with social media
(4) Civic engagement and social media at the university
Social media and university-community collaboration; Impact of social media on socio-cultural practices
(5) Poster sessions presented by undergraduate and graduate students on a variety of topics related to social media and the university experience.
Confirmed Keynote Speakers
Professor Mark Bauerlein, Emory University (
Professor Susan C. Herring, Indiana University (
Professor Sidneyeve Matrix, Queen’s University (
(Social Media Panel of Experts yet to be confirmed…)
Please send a title and abstract (350 words excluding bibliography) to the organizers before 1 July 2012, for a 20 minute presentation. All abstract submissions will undergo peer review and notification of acceptance will be sent out in early November 2012. Please also include your name, affiliation, contact address and telephone number.
Conference organizers
Professor Roberta Iannacito-Provenzano (York University, Toronto, Canada;
Professor Jana Vizmuller-Zocco (York University, Toronto, Canada;

Feminist sociolegal conferencing: LSA in Hawaii

Just in case you’re wondering what you’re missing, well, this:

and of course, even better, this:

You  missed Emma Cunliffe (L) at her author meets reader session.  [From the Program]

Author Meets Reader–Murder, Medicine and Motherhood, by Emma Cunliffe

Chair: Eve Darian-Smith (University of California, Santa Barbara)   Author: Emma Cunliffe (University of British Columbia)

Readers: Gary Edmond (University of New South Wales), Reader: William Haltom (University of Puget Sound), Reader: Karen A. Porter (Hanover College), Reader: Mehera San Roque (University of New South Wales)

apparently there is time between sessions for this (feminist content: three feminists, and a birthday girl).

In sum, “wish i was there”.




photo credits: Ruthann R, Gillian C, Claire Y, Susan B, Amanda G, Deb P.

CFP (deadline July 1): Mothering and Reproduction Conference Motherhood Initiative for Research & Community Involvement

The Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement is holding the MOTHERING AND REPRODUCTION CONFERENCE featuring an embedded conference on the topic of MOTHERING, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY October 18-20, 2012, Toronto, ON, Canada.  For consideration, please send a 250-word abstract and a 50-word bio by July 1, 2012 to ** TO SUBMIT AN ABSTRACT FOR THIS CONFERENCE, ONE MUST BE A MEMBER OF MIRCI:

Topics may include but are not restricted to:
Bioethics and fertility; abortion, birth control and assisted fertility in a cross cultural context; reproductive technologies
and the interplay of religion; mothering in families of high order multiple births; mothering on the blogosphere; queer
engagements with reproduction; motherhood and the technological womb; modern childbirth and maternity care;
(mis)educative experiences teaching and learning about menstruation and reproduction; re/productive roles mothers play
in de/constructing embodied understandings of reproduction; surviving traumatic birth experiences; mothers in
academe/research; mothering and the workplace, how technology permeates the work/home barrier; attachment with
adopted and biological children; birth plans; how science and technology inform social justice issues; assisted
reproductive technologies, state policy, and federalism’s impacts on women in the United States and around the world;
reproductive decisions and a politics of location; impact of social media on opinions regarding reproduction; “mothering”
from a distance; the experience of egg donation; mothers’ changing relationship with “the experts” regarding birthing, infant
care in the age of infectious diseases, baby books and birth control; reproductive rights and wrongs, including rise
of contraceptive technology alongside state-coerced sterilization; mothering in the Information Age; maternalist political
rhetoric in favor of labor rights; mothering bodies; pre and postnatal bodies and reconstructive surgery; eating disorders
and reproduction; reproductive consciousness and politics of reproduction; outcomes associated with
scientific/technological intervention; outsourcing of reproduction to developing nations; maternal and erotic/maternal
eroticism; history of reproductive technologies; Indigenous mothers and mothering; cross-cultural perspectives on
reproduction including reproductive technologies.


h/t Bita Amani, Carys Craig

Birth Control Sabotage

Was interested to hear on CBC radio’s The Current this morning about the appeal in this Nova Scotia case, now on reserve at the NSCA.  R v. Hutchinson, 2011 NSSC 361 involved a man who deliberately and secretly damaged condoms because he wanted his girlfriend to get pregnant, and she did not want to have a child.  There are some complexities in the case (like a finding of fact that she did not in fact become pregnant through the damaged condoms, but because a false positive home pregnancy test prompted the couple to give up on birth control altogether).  In any case, Mr. Hutchinson is appealing his conviction on sexual assault (he was charged with aggravated sexual assault).

One of the things that is really bothering me about the commentary (both on the radio and in the article below from the Halifax news) is that some people are assuming that if the charge/conviction are appropriate that they would be equally appropriate in the case of a woman who sabotaged or lied about birth control and had sex with a man.  I don’t deny that this could be seen as the same thing.  But surely we understand the difference between the consequence to a man (genetic connection to child, possible liability for child support, etc) and to a woman (sperm in her body which could lead to conception and pregnancy,  plus the consequence of being a parent).  Again, I’m not arguing that these couldn’t or shouldn’t be treated the same way in law, but could we please acknowledge the differences between becoming pregnant though this kind of sabotage and making someone pregnant due to sabotage?

Appeal has social policy implications | The Chronicle Herald.

Anyway, I don’t feel ready to comment on the merits of the claim that lying about birth control (because you deliberately sabotaged it) on the part of the man vitiates consent to sexual activity or amounts to aggravated sexual assault.   But I did come across a comment, Birth Control Sabotage as Domestic Violence: A Legal Response, today, on SSRN.  That whole transit of Venus thing must have lined up some coincidences in the world.  And other madness like Americans (other than Ruthann Robson) writing about Canadian law!

Written by a law student at Berkeley, the article argues in favour of criminalizing birth control sabotage, but not, it appears, through existing [US] provisions.  It closely considers the first trial and appeal in the Hutchinson case (starting at p27).   For clarification about the progress of the Hutchinson case, the Chronicle Herald’s Clare Mellor, June 5 (from the article linked above):

The case, which has been before the courts for several years, has involved two trials. In 2009, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge found Hutchinson not guilty of aggravated sexual assault, but the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturned that decision and ordered a new trial.

In 2011, Hutchinson was found not guilty of aggravated sexual assault but guilty of the lesser offence of sexual assault.

While the woman did not consent to sexual intercourse with damaged condoms, the Crown failed to prove that her pregnancy was a result of having had sex using those condoms, the trial judge said at the time.

On Monday, the case was heard by a special five-member appeal court panel headed by Chief Justice Michael MacDonald, instead of the usual three-member panel.



Shane Trawick University of California, Berkeley – School of Law

This Comment responds to a series of recent studies linking domestic violence to birth control sabotage — a phenomenon where male partners destroy or manipulate contraceptive devices to force pregnancy, attempting to hold their female partners captive in a violent relationship. Birth control sabotage can take many forms, including the destruction of birth control, the piercing of condoms, or the forceful removal of contraceptive vaginal rings or intrauterine devices. Its existence begs two questions: what legal remedies are available to victims of birth control sabotage, and what policy steps should be taken to limit its occurrence? The absence of legal scholarship resolving these questions is glaring, and virtually no legal scholarship addresses the intersection of birth control sabotage and domestic violence. This Comment contends, first, that the recent studies linking birth control sabotage and domestic violence provide a sufficient justification for labeling sabotage as an intentional, fraudulent misrepresentation tort claim. Second, this Comment normatively argues that state legislatures ought to act quickly to criminalize birth control sabotage. As sabotage can now be understood as an act of violence in continuing domestic violence, criminalization and incarceration are crucial in preventing further abuse. While legal remedies for birth control sabotage have been severely limited in the past, creative attorneys and motivated legislators should address this important issue to improve the lives of survivors and their families.


Of course there are also links to other cases about the context of sexual activity and how it might or might not vitiate consent, such as Mabior and DC (french only) in which appeals to the SCC have been heard and decisions are reserved.  Both are cases in which HIV+ people did not disclose their status to sexual partners.


New on SSRN: Face to Face by Robert Leckey (McGill)

Robert Leckey (McGill, other work on SSRN here) has posted Face to Face on SSRN

This draft paper uses queer theory, specifically literature on Bowers v. Hardwick, to analyze debates over legislation proposed in Quebec regarding covered faces. Queer theory sheds light on legal responses to the veil. Parliamentary debates in Quebec reconstitute the polity, notably as secular and united. The paper highlights the contradictory and unstable character of four binaries: legislative text versus social practice, act versus status, majority versus minority, and knowable versus unknowable. As with contradictory propositions about homosexuality, contradiction does not undermine discourse but makes it stronger and more agile.